Friday, June 29, 2007


One of the things that I've learned in recent years is that you have to be very careful with co-ownerships. I have decided that unless I actually know the person very well (i.e. the person is a friend), I will not co-own again with anyone. People simply can be weird, lie, or have different principles than another party. That is life. We don't always agree. However, when it comes to the dogs, I want the best care for them. I also don't want them to be bred over and over. Nor do I want them to be where they aren't loved. Life is too short to get into wrangles over dogs or with other people who don't share my ethics. I used to think that co-owning not only helped me but was an opportunity to help out others to get started in the breed. No longer--if you want to get started in the breed, then buy outright the best possible bitch you can providing someone will sell you one, and then make your own way. That's what I did and I've never regretted it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dog days

The heat seems to be upon us. The dogs are lazing around and not wanting to do much playing. They bounce around for a bit and they go lie down on the coolest spot in the paddocks. We've got the misting systems ready to be installed and will get those going this weekend. I've written about those in the past as they keep the temperature about 5-10 degrees cooler during the heat of the day.

Misting systems are available for a variety of uses but we purchased ours from Ecologic Technologies. They are used in zoos and horse barns. Misting systems are popular in the southwest where they are a regular feature in many outdown venues. Ours are set up on a timer and basically start at around 10 AM and run for 20 minutes every hour until around 5 PM in the evening. The dogs love to lie under the mist.

It doesn't look as if there will be too many cool nights remaining and the days are only going to get hotter. Even with all the trees, it's nice to have the dogs receive some relief from the heat by using the misting sytem.

Friday, June 22, 2007

At the Beach

It's beach time for the dogs. Just remember though that there are leash laws and stiff penalties for violating them. Most of the beach communities in the Charleston area aren't wanting dogs around when tourist season starts. So find out what the law is for your area and abide by it.

Another thing to remember is to take plenty of water when you take your dog to the beach. Water temperature in the Charleston area can be very unpleasant and like warm bath water in the summer. It's best to rinse off your dog with cool fresh water and give the dog a drink of fresh water after visiting the beach. Also, remember to wipe out the ears and dry them so that yeast infections don't get started. A Labrador ear is a great environment for yeast colonies and with the humidity in Charleston, the yeasty beasties can get going and thrive.

Special thanks to Betsy Roumillat for supplying the lovely photos of Maggie who is from the breeding of Surry's Fleeting Glimpse to Ch. Trendlewood Song for Guy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I have my MMD

One of my hobbies is rowing. I also like photography and enjoy taking photos of boats and water scenes. With retirement coming up in a few short years, I decided that I wanted to get my Merchant Mariners Document or Z card as it is sometimes called. This is a basic original document for position as an Ordinary Seaman. What that means is that I'll be a Ph.D. who can paint decks, bust rust, handle lines and generally do other scut work on board a ship. It isn't glamorous but could come in handy for volunteering with the Spirit of South Carolina.

The Spirit is South Carolina's new tall ship. She is now in the water, rigged and ready to start education programs this summer. I've offered to volunteer as a crew member on the Spirit for some of the day trips. I'm hoping that my MMD papers will help since I've now passed the background check, drug test, and all the other necessary things that the US Coast Guard requires to get my card. It is a great opportunity for me as a marine scientist to go out on this beautiful ship. After retirement, who knows--maybe I'll sign on a cargo ship or a coastal tug boat. It all sounds exciting for now!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shedding time

The kennels are filled with black mats of hair. The dogs are really blowing coat now. Labradors just look naked when they blow coat. One of the main characteristics of a Labrador is having a double coat that is harsh to the touch. My dogs all have shed that undercoat and now look pathetic. The puppies have still retained most of their coat so they still look good. Stella is starting to blow and there are big dust balls of yellow hair in the doggy room. Tilly is holding her coat but I know that when she blows, it is massive fall out!

The best thing to purchase is a slicker brush. Just keep brushing and brushing to get all the dead hair out. If you don't, the result will not only be hair balls everywhere but a hot spot might develop. Hot spots are basically a moist dermatitis and look nasty. A course of antibiotic medication and some Neopredf topical powder or Gold Bond medicated powder will help.

So brush out the old hair daily and even though you may have a naked looking Labrador, you'll save yourself some grief with no hot spots and less vacumning.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Judging in Wisconsin

I'm on my way back home after judging the Labrador Specialty at Winnebago LRC in Beloit, Wisconsin. I had a nice entry. My Winners Bitch was just lovely and my Reserve WB was a lovely puppy. It was nice to see many good Labradors and a pleasure always to judge bitches. They are really the strength of the breed.

Of course, you have to have those sperm donor males. Among the males, I really like Beechcroft Study in Black. He is a nice dog and seems to be producing nicely. What a lovely head he has! My WB was a daughter of his. I would like to breed one of my girls to Study at some point. I appreciate the good fronts that Mary Wiest has with her line. Her dogs go back to Bridget Docking's Ballyduff kennel in England and the heads are also so lovely.

I'm hoping to get into Charleston to enjoy a bit of father's day with Charlie's dad.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rain at last

I'm really liking these overcast days with cool mornings and some rain. There was a real down pour on Wadmalaw today and it was so nice. The dogs sleep and are quiet when there is rain. It's as if they are enjoying the soothing sound of the rain as much as I do. We have been in such a drought that having a couple of days of rain will green up the yard in a hurry.

If you notice brown spots in your yard, they may not be due to any die off of the grass due to drought but to dog urine. The girls love to pee in the front yard and wherever that occurs there will be brown patches that develop.

Here is some technical information from Penn State that may help:

Dog urine and feces can often be a frustrating problem related to lawn care. Small amounts may produce a green up or fertilizer effect while larger amounts often result in lawn burn or dead patches. While most burn spots will recover with time and regrowth, dead areas can be large enough in some cases to require reseeding or sodding. For homeowners who are also dog lovers, this can present a dilemma, particularly when one family member prefers the dog and another prefers a well-manicured lawn. An understanding of the interaction between dogs and the lawn can keep the yard (and family) at peace, not in pieces.

Understanding the Causes: The fundamental problem with the presence of urine or feces on the lawn is related to the nitrogen content and concentration of these waste products. Urine, when produced as a waste product in animals, primarily removes excess nitrogen from the body via the kidneys. Nitrogen waste products are the result of protein breakdown through normal bodily processes. Carnivores, including cats and dogs, have a significant protein requirement and urine volume/production varies due to size and metabolism. Urine is a more serious problem for lawns because it is applied all at once as a liquid fertilizer, whereas feces slowly releases the waste products over time. since stools are usually solid, owners have the option of frequent manual removal. With more time for the nitrogen waste to dissolve into the lawn, stools that are frequently removed damage lawns less than urine.

Young dogs of both sexes frequently squat to urinate. Leg lifting is often learned by male dogs around a year of age; castration or neutering does not seem to affect nature's timetable related to this behavior development. While most male dogs will hike their leg and mark once they are over a year of age, a few will continue to squat which is more common in female dogs. Female dogs may also mark although less commonly than male dogs. Once dogs begin urine marking, they often utilize many and numerous scent posts resulting in numerous, small volume urinations rather than large volume puddles. Grass can handle small volume nitrogen bursts easier than fertilizer overload. Unfortunately, the young bush, shrub, vine or tree sprout that becomes a marking post may have nitrogen (fertilizer) overload with repeated marking and may die if continually "marked."

The primary concern in addressing urine damage to lawns is minimizing the nitrogen concentration added to the lawn at any single time. Female dogs, being less likely to urine mark and more likely to squat, are the primary culprits of lawn damage since they will go anywhere on a lawn and usually all at once. This results in a single nitrogen dump confined to a small patch of grass. The brown spot that results will often have a green ring around the outside. The nitrogen overload at the center causes the burn, but as the urine is diluted toward to periphery, it has a fertilizer effect. This characteristic brown spot, green ring pattern has been called "female dog spot disease" by some horticulturists. As might be expected, lawns are most susceptible to nitrogen burns when standard fertilizers are maximized in the lawn. Homeowners making the extra effort to have a green lawn may be quite discouraged by their neighbor's dog damage or their own housepet's potty residue.

Speculations on the actual cause of the lawn burn has resulted in numerous theories on what else in the urine may be contributing to the damage. Dr. A. W. Allard, a Colorado veterinarian, examined numerous variations in dog urine and the effects on several common lawn grasses. His results support the fact that volume of urine (nitrogen content) and urine concentration had the most deleterious effects on lawns. The pH of the urine did not have any variable effect nor did common additives designed to alter the urine pH. Of the four grasses tested, Festuca sp. var. Kentucky 31 (fescue) and Lolium perrene (perennial ryegrass) were the most resistant to urine effects. In fact, the urine routinely produced a fertilizer effect on these grasses at diluted concentrations. Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) and Cynodon sp. var. Fairway (bermundagrass) were very sensitive to any urine concentration and severe burns resulted, persisting greater than 30 days after initial exposure to even four ounces of diluted urine. Even on the most urine resistant grass tested (fescue), urine concentration was a bigger problem than urine volume. Concentrated urine with volumes as little as 30cc (one ounce) caused lawn burn even on fescue grasses.

Problem Area Avoidance Technique: Where applicable, fences can be used to keep neighboring dogs from eliminating on the lawn. Advising neighbors of the legality of leash laws, where applicable, can restrict damage to areas near sidewalks and on tree lawns/median right of ways. Unfortunately, no repellents are universally effective, although a variety of home remedies have been tried. Hot and bitter products are most likely to have taste or odor aversive properties to dogs. Most repellents function better as taste repellents than to touch or odor repellents. Some odor repellents may actually encourage a dog to overmark the strange smell. Some of the better known commercial repellents have these limitations as well. A newly developed motion activated sprinkler, primarily designed to keep cats and rabbits out of gardens, may have benefits for some yards. The sprinkler may provide some benefit in small yards or at corners of front yards where damage is most likely to occur; however the presence of numerous squirrels, stray animals or children may result in over-watering and very high water bills if they continuously trigger the device.

In many cases, the problem dog is a housemate to the homeowner. While somewhat time consuming, walking the dog to a park or field away from the house is a simple remedy to this. The time can be well spent since exercise has physical and emotional benefits for both dogs and their owners. Homeowners are encouraged to choose an appropriate destination and not create problem lawns elsewhere that may affect the over-all aesthetics of the neighborhood.

A more feasible approach may be to train the pet to eliminate in a designated area of the yard. This area would be a landscaped area specifically designed for the dog. It will need a substrate like pea gravel or mulch that the dog finds acceptable and may even include a marking post like a large boulder, bird bath, lawn ornament or even faux hydrant. Collecting the dog's urine in a cup and using it in this area for several days can provide some odor attractant value to this area. Feces can also be collected and transported to the new designated area. Consistency for at least two-three weeks is important to establish this as a routine, trained behavior; several months may be necessary in some cases. Initially, training can occur with the dog on a short leash and food rewards employed to encourage use of this area. Dogs should not be unsupervised in the yard while this initial training is occurring. It is often easier to train a young puppy to a particular ground texture than an adult dog, but never impossible in any age dog. A variable reward system utilizing one standard treat if urinating anywhere outside and several treats or a special treat if in the designated area can be helpful in this process and avoid confusing the dog regarding the new housebreaking rules. Excessive food rewards in the form of meat or protein products will contribute to increased nitrogen content in the urine. Dogs that are being obedience trained should not be trained with treats on the lawn during this housebreaking or pets and reward systems can really become confused. Many dog owners will also find it helpful to train their dog to an elimination command during this time. common commands might include: potty, piddle, do your business, hurry up, etc. and take less time to accomplish the task when inclement weather is present or time schedules are busy.

Dietary Modification Techniques: A great many dietary modifications for dogs have been tried, often based on home remedies or anecdotal experience. A veterinarian should always be consulted prior to making any dietary modifications, whether they include additions or subtractions from standard nutrient guidelines. As stated earlier, the pH of the urine has little or no effect on the urine damage to the lawn. The addition of acidifying agents, including nutritional supplements like D-1, Methionine (Methioform), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) or fruit juices, will have no benefit for this problem and may predispose the dog to an increased incidence of certain bladder stones. Likewise, alkalinizing agents, including baking soda and potassium citrate, can predispose to other types of bladder stones or infections. The addition of any of these supplements has enough potential to cause harm, with limited to no known benefit for the lawn and are not recommended.

When owners have reported successes, as is sometimes the case on internet forums, liquids likely improved the situation because the urine concentration after treatment was diluted. Safer ways to accomplish more dilute urine include feeding canned food, moistening dry food with water prior to feeding and adding salt or garlic salt to the regular food. One particular home remedy, tomato juice, likely has its primary benefit through both increased salt and water intake. While salt will make the dog drink more and dilute the urine, increased salt intake can cause problems for dogs with existing kidney or heart conditions. Owners should not alter their dog's diet without consulting with their veterinarian.

Dogs with more dilute urine may have to go more frequently as well and need more frequent elimination opportunities. While specific breed differences haven't been noted, smaller dogs produce less urine than larger dogs so are dumping less nitrogen waste. Dogs with bladder infections often demonstrate an urgency to urinate and typically squat several times, leaving small amounts or drops each time. These dogs may be less of a problem for lawns than normal dogs who empty their whole bladder in one sitting. Dog owners who actually note that their dog's urine is no longer causing lawn burn without having made any changes should have their dog examined by their veterinarian and a urinalysis performed to make sure there are no medical conditions causing this change.

The other option to consider besides diluting the urine is to reduce the amount of nitrogen waste being dumped in the urine. The average family dog doesn't have the activity

level that requires as high a protein level as most commercial maintenance dog foods provide. Although dog food purchasing often reflects consumer perception that high protein equals better food, in fact moderate to low protein foods are often adequate for all but the most energetic working and hunting dogs. When examining a food label, protein content must be compared on a dry matter basis and unfortunately it is not like comparing apples to apples. Dry foods vary in how much moisture they have, so the protein percent listed can't be immediately compared to all other foods. Canned foods will have a much lower protein percent listed than dry foods but also have much higher water content.

The quality of the protein also has an impact since some proteins are highly digestible, meaning less is dumped in the feces and possibly the urine than other proteins. In general, the premium and super premium pet foods, available from pet stores and veterinarians, will have higher quality protein and more digestible proteins than standard grocery store brands. The higher digestibility translates into smaller fecal size as well. It is probably best to discuss individual pet needs with a veterinarian or nutrition consultant in the practice to determine what is the best fit, based on feasibility, palatability and economics. In many cases, if a dog food is currently providing good overall nutritional support for the pet, diluting the urine by simply adding water to the food may be the easiest place to start.

Repair/Recovery of Damage Area: A leash can function to bond owners to their dogs and increase the time pets spend interacting with their owners. A leash can also be part of a responsible neighbor policy, be a great training aid, and is also one of the best ways to be at the site to intervene when urinations occur. Watering the spot after urinations will accomplish the dilution with no ill effects on the dog. Dr. Allard's study looked at watering feccue at different intervals following urination. Water volumes three times that of the urine were used to assess their dilution effects. A fertilizer effect rather than burn was noted when the site was watered at any time up to eight hours after the urination. When the delay in watering was extended to 12 or more hours, progressively worse burns were noted. It appears that routine watering of the grass in early mornings would not be sufficient to prevent all urine burns.

The use of gypsum or lime has been advocated, but it is uncertain exactly what mechanism this would have in helping prevent urine damage. Improved soil quality over time may result in better drainage and less urine concentration at the grass and root level, but additional information is needed in this area.

Lawn burn, when mild, will often repair itself over time, especially in the case of the warm-season turf grasses that spread by stolons and rhizomes. Dark green spots and taller grasses may remain for several weeks. Sodding can be a quick way to patch severely damaged individual areas that would otherwise be invaded by weeds.

While a high fence and dog-less lifestyle can ensure that "female dog spot disease" is not a problem in your clients' yards, homeowners and dog lovers have several practical solutions available to manage this problem. Coordinating these options can keep their four-legged friends on good terms and out of the dog house so they, too, can enjoy romping in your clients' well-manicured yard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lick sores

I've had a couple of Labradors over the years that have developed lick sores. The lesions that these dogs have had have been small oozing areas on the front part of the forearm or foot. The real name for this condition is a lick granuloma. Generally, dogs who develop these lick sores are bored. Some may suffer from separation anxiety. What happens is the dog will start licking the paw or foreleg over and over, gradually wearing away the hair and the skin underneath until there is a sore area. It's a similar motivation that causes horses to crib or weave in their stall. It's also possible that these are a result of an allergic reaction that results in inflammation which triggers the dog to lick at any area nearby. It has also been reported that hypothyroidism can play a role in Lick Granuloma. It would be good to test T4 levels as certain lines are prone to hypothyroidism.

Treatments for lick granulomas include laser surgery that removes the sore tissue. For the most part nothing works though because it appears to be a psychological compulsion to lick and chew the area. Some anti-anxiety drugs have been used with mixed results. Cortisone injections have also been used and may alleviate the itchiness. Cortisone cream can be especially useful. One solution that has been useful is long-term use of antibiotics. It may take from 3 to 6 months though to make a difference. If lick sores develop, consult with your vet about what kind of treatment is advised to keep the sore from getting worse.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Submitting preliminary radiographs

I generally get preliminary radiographs done of hips and elbows when the dogs are around 18 months of age. It's important to wait until the growth plates have closed. Taking x-rays too early can indicate subluxation on young Labradors.

Dr. Shong at Bohicket Veterinary Clinic does a wonderful job. He gets positioning perfect and also takes multiple shots. He is conservative in his assessment as well. I've always felt confident in his abilities and assessment for OFA submission. He always uses sedation for the positioning because he wants to be able to manipulate the legs into the correct position.

Once the x-rays are processed, we review them and he will point out what he likes and doesn't like. We don't submit them at this point. If the joint structure looks great, we keep our fingers crossed until the finals are submitted at 2 years of age.

Getting OFA hips and elbows done is a major milestone with breeders. It is imperative to have good positioning and a good x-ray machine when getting radiographs done.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Elbow calluses

Labradors are heavy dogs. They also tend to be laid back and most love to get their snooze time. Over time, you might begin to see red rough areas on the elbows. It's not at all uncommon for Labradors to get elbow calluses. It's nothing to be concerned about. I recommend getting Bag Balm and putting that on the elbows to keep the area soft. Most of the time though, the calluses will turn grey and will thicken no matter what you do.

If you are showing your dog, you can use cosmetic methods such as chalk to cover up the callus. However, I do think that Labradors should be shown naturally and without a bunch of froo-froo stuff done to them. Handlers will inevitably chalk, blow dry, clip, trim and generally do all kinds of things to these sporting dogs. I don't like to see Labradors all clipped with whiskers trimmed. It's just my preference since I think that they should be just given a brief brushing to knock the dust off and then presented in the ring. I don't like smelly dogs though so a bit of Listerine mixed with water will do the trick to freshen them up and cut the odor. Labradors don't need to be bathed often but regular brushing will keep their dander down and help get rid of old hair that can start to smell.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Pinkster

Once upon a time, there was a litter being birthed at Surry. The humans stayed up for many hours assisting Annabelle deliver her babies. There were lots of babies and one of the little ones birthed was very small. She weighed so much less than the others. She was kept snuggled in a heating pad next to her mom.

The humans worked hard on the little one. Elizabeth stayed up most of the night and was beginning to think that the little one wasn't going to make it. She kept getting pushed off the teats by the bigger pups. So, something had to be done to save this wee baby. Elizabeth opened a can of formula, mixed in some water, and gradually got the baby to latch on to the nipple. The baby didn't want to eat at first but after giving a dose of dextrose, the baby became ravenous. She latched on and nursed! After that she had supplemental feedings every couple of hours. It was a tiring process but Elizabeth didn't give up. Between supplemental feedings, the Pinkster, as she was now known, began to feed from her mother's teats.

Gradually, as the days passed, the Pinkster gained weight and began to be a strong baby. She still enjoyed being nursed with the bottle and would work her little paws when she nursed from it.

At several weeks of age, some nice people came to visit and they fell in love with this tiny puppy who had quite the heart. Pinkster was chosen to be their companion for her life. She grew to be a fat healthy baby who could run and jump with all the other babies.

Her new parents, Ann and Paul Key, dote on this girl who is now called Neilley. Neilley goes with them everywhere and is the model for their great line of Scottish doggy clothes and accessories. Neilley still sends cards and emails to us. She will always be the wee one in our eyes.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A story about Jack

I want to share an email that I received from Mavis who owns Jack, an Anna son:

Dear Elizabeth,

I wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear of Anna’s passing. She will always be in your heart, and I am sure you must have had wonderful times with her when she was alive. I have always loved your web site and your blog, and all those stories about your labs. I didn’t realize at first that Anna was Surry’s High Hopes, until you mentioned her full name and her daughter’s. Then I suddenly realized that Anna is Jack’s mom, and it hit me pretty hard too. I held Jack tight and told him his Mom had gone on to heaven. Jack’s (Ch. Surry Jack of Hearts) dad is Trendmaker’s Tycoon.

Jack is an absolutely super, kind hearted, gentle and goofy lab. He loves to play and run a lot. I am blessed to have him with me. I have another lab too, Buzz – and Jack thinks the world of Buzz. He adores Buzz, but Buzz is a lot more mellow and laidback, and you can see Jack trying his best to make Buzz play with him all the time. It is wonderful to have labs.

I am attaching two photos of Jack for you. He is the black one, the yellow one is his best buddy, Buzz. Does he look like his Mom too?

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and the two dogs. My labs are my kids, and they are spoilt rotten!

If you ever happen to be in Los Angeles, we would very much like for you to come and visit us. The dogs will love to meet you!

I hadn't heard anything about Jack for sometime. It's a long story and one of the reasons that I don't like to sell to "show" homes--ever, unless I know the person or they come highly recommended. Even then, there are dangers such as what happened with Jack.

A lady that I was mentoring and helping really wanted a puppy from me. I had known her for a while and she had some nice dogs, several of which she had gotten from a breeder friend. She came to see the Morgan x Anna litter and really liked a cute black boy. All seemed well for a while but then I began to get the thought that this lady was breeding too much. She had a personal hardship and then seemed to totally want to breed for money. I visited and found that the care of the dogs was not up to standard. I bought back a bitch that I co-owned with her and took another dog home. Jack was owned outright by her and she promised to find him a good home. I regreted ever having sold him and regreted that he lived in a kennel as just another dog.

Jack made his way to another breeder who I think took care of him. Yet, I still couldn't get it out of my mind that he needed to be in a companion home. I emailed his new owner who assured me that he was well taken care of.

Now, after this time, I am so glad to hear that Jack has a wonderful home. I think that every Labrador deserves a couch. And yes, I have a kennel but I know that the dogs are cared and loved with me. I didn't get that feeling with Jack's first owner for a number of reasons that I won't go into here. These aren't just dogs. They have a soul.

Thanks Mavis for writing. I can rest easy now.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Having more than one Labrador

I often get calls from people who want another Labrador because they want a companion for their current Labrador. I do think that Labradors like company and are happy when there is another dog to have as a playmate.

What I don't advocate is getting siblings or dogs that are too close to each other in age, such as two puppies. It's hard enough working with one puppy. However, if there is an age separation, then things can work out well. Getting a retired show dog is a wonderful idea because they are generally quite mellow, crate trained and already highly socialized. They also have the ability to cope with a younger dog.

So if you think that two is a good idea, I would agree. Labradors are gregarious and really enjoy having another dog to hang out with. Two can be better than one.