Saturday, September 29, 2007


I received several photos of Am. Can. Ch. Surry's Dark Side of the Moon this morning. Floyd is owned by Orlando Fernandez and is living in Spain. He is a son of our first champion Ch. Fernwood Miss Daisy. His sire is Ch.Sugar Hollow's Can't Touch This who was owned by friends Robin Moody and Gina Cheatham.

Floyd was always a happy boy. He is a gentle soul who really would show off in the ring. Orlando has shown him in Veteran's Classes in Spain and he has done well. He evidently still has the enthusiasm of his youth.

It makes me very nostalgic to see Floyd. Daisy, his dam, was such a special girl for us. And seeing her son in his senior years really brings home the fact that a lot of time has passed since those days when I was showing Daisy and that these wonderful dogs aren't with us long enough.

I'm always glad to get pictures of the dogs and getting these of Floyd this morning really brought back a lot of memories. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bathing Labradors

Here's a photo of baby Tweedle (Surry's Talk of the Town) getting a bath. Most Labradors really like being wet down. And they will tolerate with good nature a shampoo.

Bathing Labradors occasionally isn't going to do any damage to the coat but frequent bathing can cause the skin to dry out and will strip the coat of oils. I suggest that the best way to keep a Labrador smelling fresh is just to hose them off and then spray them with a 10% solution of Listerine and water. It will make them smell fresh and clean.

And if you are showing your dog, don't ever bathe them before a show. It will definitely make the coat too soft. A Labrador's coat should be harsh to the touch, not soft and fluffy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Safe Toys for Labradors

Labradors are wonderfully playful dogs. They enjoy all kinds of play things--sticks, a plastic bottle, dead squirrels, and furry doggy toys. Most owners don't want their dog to be deprived of anything so there is an abundance of all kinds of toys about. I have an entire basket of toys and shelves filled with them. Some are in various forms of disrepair but they are still old favorites for the dogs.

But what kind of toys are the safest? I think that Kong toys and Nylabones are probably the safest toys. Labradors love to chew so these toys are really close to indestructible. You can fill the Kong toy with peanut butter if you don't mind a mess. I also like Zanies but recommend that any furry cloth toy be used only with supervision just in case the Labrador decides to rip it open, eat some of the stuffing or the squeaker inside. Large hard plastic balls that can be filled with water or sand are also fun for the yard. There is one of these in each of the kennels and they get bounced around and played with a lot.

I would never recommend toys such as a tennis ball (except for throwing) because they can be easily chewed apart. I also don't like tug toys because it can teach a dog to not "give" up what it has in its mouth and may contribute to a "hard" mouth which isn't desirable for hunting.

Neilley, aka The Pinkster, is shown above with her newest toy, a large frog. Her human mom and dad supervise her and make sure that she doesn't chew off one of the frog legs. That can always be a danger with some of the cute stuffed toys that are available. There was a scare in 2006 with Greenies that became lodged in the esophagus and caused fatal obstructions.

A study was conducted that showed that compressed vegetable chew treats, of which Greenies is the most popular, are now the third biggest cause of esophageal obstruction in dogs behind bones and fish hooks. Greenies are made of digestible products like wheat gluten and fiber, but the molding process makes the treat very firm and hard. Rawhide chews can also cause obstructions and have preservatives such as arsenic and may include antibiotics, lead and insecticides.

So if you purchase toys for the dogs, make sure that they are safe and fun.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The working Labrador

I thought that some of you would enjoy seeing the video below. This is a video of Ch. Surry's Ducktale Masquerade retrieving at a Senior Hunter Test. Calvin now has three legs towards getting his Senior Hunter title. It's nice to see him doing what Labradors were bred to do.

The senior hunter (SH) title requires Qualifying scores in five senior hunting tests, or a junior hunter title plus four qualifying scores in senior hunting tests. For both senior and master hunting tests the dog must come quietly and steadily up to the line and honor a working dog’s retrieve off leash and without a collar. On these levels the handler will carry and shoulder an empty shotgun.

Dogs are not ranked against each other in retriever hunting tests, and every dog who qualifies is a winner. The events are designed to be enjoyable, and handlers can continue entering their dogs who have already earned the titles. Everyone can root for everyone else, because one person’s success doesn’t hurt anyone else’s chances.

If you get a chance to, go watch the Labradors retrieve at one of these tests. It is a wonderful sight to see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alligators and dogs

The news this week in Charleston is about a man who lost his arm to an alligator while scuba diving in one of the large lakes near the city. For a gruesome photo of this event you can follow this link. (Yes, that is a human arm!). I don't think that many of us who live in the southeastern US need to be reminded that dogs and alligators don't mix well.

Labradors like to swim and having your dog retrieve in a waterbody that hasn't been checked for large toothy reptiles isn't healthy for the dog. I did a biological study of impoundments in the Santee Delta where there were on average 60 alligators per 6-10 acres of impoundment. The work required wading into the impoundments and nearby creek. We were always cautious when doing our work because of the alligator population. Now, I'm glad that I got the work done, the paper published, and don't have to go in alligator infested waters anymore.

Generally, one can't be certain what ponds and other water bodies in the Charleston area have alligators in them. It's best if you don't know the pond, to not send your dog into the water. Even a 6 foot alligator can easily grab and drown a 75 lb. Labrador. I don't even want to think about the Big Boys that are lurking about.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Camryn passes her CGC test

Camryn, one of the Surry girls, owned by Mardy passed her CGC test on Saturday. Most of the dogs in the class were Labradors. Mardy and Camryn are second from left. The Canine Good Citizen test is sponsored by the American Kennel Club. You can read a lot of details on the AKC website
Basically this is an overview of the test:

Your dog must appear for the test well groomed. The collar may not be a pinch collar, electric collar, or similar correction collar. You will provide the examiner with a brush to help demonstrate your dog's tolerance for being handled by a stranger. The dog must allow the examiner to brush it and to examine its body. The test also includes the dog sitting calmly while a stranger pets it.

Your dog must be comfortable with the approach of a friendly stranger. The examiner will approach you and shake hands. Your dog should accept the approach calmly, without shyness or aggression. A friendly dog can fail this by approaching with too much enthusiasm. A polite dog waits for permission before touching a stranger.

Your dog must be able to walk without pulling on its leash. A formal heel is not required. Your dog must be able to walk through a crowd of people. Often the people will be doing all the things people do - opening umbrellas, walking on crutches, swinging a sweater, crossing suddenly in front of the dog. Your dog should not pull at the leash, jump at the people, or show either fear or aggression.

The examiner will ask you to have the dog sit and lie down on command. You will be asked to tell the dog to stay, then to step away from the dog, about twenty-five feet or so and call the dog. The dog should stay until called, and come when called. Unlike formal obedience, repeating a command is allowed.

An ability to regain self-control after excitement is an important part of the test. The examiner will have you play with the dog briefly then calm it. The dog should calm quickly.

Your dog must allow the approach of person with a strange dog. Typically, the other person will approach with a leashed dog and shake your hand. Showing aggression, fearfulness, or even excessive friendliness is grounds for failure.

Your dog must remain calm if you leave it briefly, (I think its three minutes). You will secure the dog to some object as directed by the examiner, and go out of sight of the dog. The dog may move around but it must not whine, bark, pull or otherwise show distress. An important point to note is that the dog is not left alone but is being left under the indirect supervision of a stranger. You should try to interact with the examiner so the dog is aware that you are not abandoning it, but the examiner will not correct or otherwise soothe the dog.

The test is to basically demonstrate that the dog can be a good companion. Most therapy dog programs require that a dog at least have a CGC certificate. It's a great way to work with your dog and any breed is eligible including mixed breeds.

Congrats to Camryn and Mardy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Long-haired gene in Labradors

The Labrador has been added to the list of breeds that can be tested to determine whether they carry the gene for long-haired coat. Long-haired coat length is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. Therefore, dogs that are carriers of the long-hair mutation will appear to be normal (short hair) themselves, but will likely pass on the long-hair mutation 50% of the time.

Here is some history that I was able to glean from a few web sites:
The Labs behind the "quirk/throwback" in Switzerland were imported some 30 years ago. The two imports became champions, one became the Bitch World Champion with two puppies (one definitely carrying the gene) from her first litter gaining the titles of Junior World Champion.

A possibility is that the gene comes from the St. Johns dog, a progenitor of the modern Labrador. The drawing of the St. Johns dog portrays a shaggy dog with a long coat and the actual "Breed Points for the St. Johns or Labrador Dog", published in 1879 called for a very different coat than the one we now see as typical. Here is the quote:

"COAT is moderately short but wavy, from its length being too great for absolute smoothness. It is glossy & close, admitting wet with difficulty to the skin, owing to its oiliness, but possessing no undercoat".

Actually, one of the factors that influenced the formation of the LRC of Great Britain in 1916 was the problem of inter-bred Retrievers. Up until 1917, the KC allowed registration under the breed they most closely resembled and the 1915 Lab Crufts winner had a sire that was a purebred Flatcoat with relatives in that breed's ring.

Other thoughts from the LRC, Inc. are that particular dogs and particular bitches carry the same gene perhaps linked to an interbred retriever as far back as the 1930's or farther:
"It was not uncommon in the early days of the breed and after WWI to use, for example, to use the offspring of a Flat-Coated Retriever x Labrador Retriever cross to refine or adjust a trait in the Labrador Retriever.

Many old pedigrees note that a particular dog or bitch was "interbred". One of the well known Labradors imported into the United States in the 1930's had an interbred bitch in his pedigree 3 generations behind him. Those interbreds were probably short coated but may have carried a gene for long coat. So when two Labradors who carry the common gene are bred, it is more than likely a "long hair" throwback will result.

You will not find references to "long haired or long coated Labrador Retriever" because the trait is not part of nor recognized in the breed and breeders would quickly eliminate a Labrador that would produce the trait from the gene pool."

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy birthday to the cookie lady!

Today is Nancy, the Station 12 Cookie Lady's birthday. Nancy sits in her red jeep in the morning at Station 12 on Sullivan's Island and gives out treats to all the dogs who come by. She started doing this because she liked to bird watch in the morning and then, over time, started giving something to the dogs who would come by. She is a happy soul who likes to talk about politics, the weather, and the different breeds that wander by with their owners in tow.

She had a nice birthday celebration tonight at Fonduely Yours in Mt. Pleasant. Although there weren't any dogs at the party, she did receive a gift from Stella, Cayenne and Cooper. They gave her a handbook to the breeds of dogs, a bag of their favorite treats, and a doggy bookmark. Stella was wagging because she knew that she would get some of those treats the next time she meets up with Nancy at Station 12.

Hope that you have many more Nancy.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Disguise for attack dogs

We are so lucky to have Labradors because they aren't one of the "vicious" breeds. Dog legislation is popping up everywhere, and it is becoming more and more difficult to own one of the large working breeds such as a Rottweiler, Doberman, German Shepherd, and Akitas.

But if you have one of these breeds, there is always an innovative solution that could fool even the most snoopy town councilman or neighbor. Here it is: the dangerous dog disguise kit
This is one of the funniest things that I've seen in a while. Unfortunately, dog legislation against certain breeds isn't funny. Be vigilant because you never know when the gentle Labrador may become a target because they are a large breed.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pink is now with her new family

Pink, who is now known as Presley, went to her new home last week. I received photos of her today. She is enjoying her family, sticking to them like glue. Presley was never going to like the show ring as she didn't have the outgoing Labrador temperament that makes a great show dog.

That's one of the difficulties in living on a large piece of property where the only entertainment is the running of squirrels. I take the dogs to the dog park on Isle of Palms and Presley interacted fairly well with them. She was a happy puppy but as she aged, she developed more reticence about various situations. I think that now she is in a neighborhood and with her new family, she will be exposed to a lot more activities.

Labradors should be outgoing but sometimes the occasional one will not be as bouncy as I would like. Her sister, Vera, is outgoing and personable. Presley will get there in time and already is a loyal companion for her owners.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


It is one of the things that we have to put up with when there are intact males and females in our kennel. At the current time, there are two girls in season and the boys are sending up a chorus of mournful howls, expressing their lust for these girls. We have Clara inside so she isn't nearly as enticing since she is out of sight but Meddle is causing a paroxysm of passion among the dogs.

Not only do the girls mount each other during heats but the boys mount each other as well. It's a nasal overload with all the pheromones wafting through the air. Almost as bad as walking through the market area on a Friday night.

Luckily, we only have to put up with the mournful noises for about a week. Then the boys quiet down and the girls, although still isolated, are not as enticing. I guess this is another reason that I have dogs instead of children.