WELCOME TO
"FOR THE LOVE OF LABRADORS"
My goal with this blog is for you to enjoy your time here. Most of the posts talk about my experiences raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, some are just for fun, and others share the best dog related information and products I have found.

Use the tabs above for quick navigation. I have imbedded links for as much as possible so that you can find the resources easily from this blog. The links in the side bar are for websites that have been helpful to me. I hope that you find them useful for you and your canine "family member"

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blogging on Blogger - now out of Beta!

When I started this blog I just wanted to share all I had learned and in that process hopefully help even just one other person improve their relationship with their dog. I hope that the information I have compiled here has helped someone do just that.

What I never considered would happen was this:
How cool is that! I speculated on how this happened here, but it wasn't until "Pappy's Fella" posted something similar that I even considered that a search for my dog's names, much less the terms "raising labradors" would give me back what I've worked on for the past 5 months. That's some Christmas present for me in my estimation.

As the "world wide web" continues to ebb and flow I look forward to riding the "waves". For now, to all my visitors - "Happy Surfing" to all of you. "Never Stop Learning" or "searching" as the case may be!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Nothing in Life is Free"

I recently came across some very good dog training articles. They are all presenting the dog training concept of "Nothing in Life is Free". This approach is one of the clearest simplest ideas I've seen. The idea makes so much sense on so many different levels I hope you will check it out. Living with a dog or dogs in your family should be a pleasure not a burden. If ever there was a simple owners manual that should come with every dog this would have to be it. Check out these links below:

On Dog Training in general
Even though NILIF is the least of what you should know when it comes to raising a dog it is the simplest starting point I've seen out there that can save even the most careless owner a lot of grief.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday: "Tag you're it" - I've been tagged, no tag backs!

I was invited out to play tag by Jason @ Fleasgang. Come join me in the fun!

The Rules: Here's how to play the game . . .

  1. Players start by listing "3 things he/she would love to get for Christmas"
  2. Then they also have to list "3 things he/ she definitely does not want to get for Christmas"
  3. Then he/she tags 5 friends and list their names
  4. The ones who get tagged need to write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes, as well as state these rules clearly
  5. Then tag 5 more victims. And the one who tags need to leave a comment that says "you've been Christmas tagged!" in their comments and tell them to read your blog
Merry Christmas to all!!

Shelby:
"What I want for Christmas . . .
  • Mom having another week of jury duty so I can finishing tearing up the lattice fence I started a week ago
  • Long walks on the beach every weekend, with a minus tide please
  • A patch of warm sun on my favorite blanket everyday between 10am and 12pm"
"What I don't want . . .
  • Manicures ending with the emery board - now listen mom, those can't be for dogs
  • Dad giving me a new fence in the driveway before I've had a chance to finish my own project on the current one
  • A cold shower - like the ones I get after going to the beach; Ok, maybe those are worth it but only after the beach
Nutmeg:
"What I want for Christmas . . .
  • Long walks on the beach every weekend, with a minus tide please; (Hey Shelby, just cause mom let you go first doesn't mean you can steal mine)
  • An endless supply of soft wet rich dirt to dig in
  • Real fresh frozen cow bones, bones, bones, bones, and more bones
"What I don't want . . .
  • Fire engine sirens especially at 2am in the morning, (Hey Shelby, you really need to deal with your issues here - howling at them at 2am is seriously not a good option, right Mom?!)
  • A "White Christmas", (Mom only thinks she's the sunshine girl, she stole that name from me the original sun worshiping doggy goddess)
  • Anymore art projects with my brother out of lattice fence - I pooped the last one for three days!!
Ok, I get the computer back now that the dogs have put there list out there. Now for the next lucky group of "just got tagged":
Update:
Well after much searching and fun, I have my list completed. There are so many great dog blogs out there! Hope you all have fun playing too.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Because dog pictures always make good blog posts!

Getting into the "Spirit"

There are blogs with a dog theme and then there are Blogs like "Pappy's Dog Blog" that can knock your socks off. Check out the link above for some fun web exploring or as I fondly call it, "chasing a white rabbit . . ." adventure time. Thanks "Pappy" for this one!


M e r r y C h r i s t m a s !

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Blog's "Keyword" Search Stats

It has been fascinating to watch the keyword searches that bring people to my blog. Some of these very same searches I conducted myself with very few very good results when I went to the internet to research for answers the first year I was raising my dogs.

Google Analytics is a fascinating and very useful application that Google offers for free to any and every one. The best place for the java script to be put on a Blogger Blog is in the bottom of your sidebar or the page footer as these page components will load with every page that is viewed by visitors.

Here is a list of the keyword searches that have brought people to my website:
There are a couple ideas I have speculated on as to the ranking my site has received by Google's indexing.

  • First: Blogger is automatically indexed by Google - great start
  • Second: Some of you like what this site has to offer and you have linked to it on your own site, through your blog feed reader, etc. - thank-you!
  • Third: Having my own blog has made me a more active participant in the blogging community. I like finding good blogs out there and telling the authors what I enjoy about their site, feedback is always nice to hear - get involved
So if you have a blog I hope some of these ideas help you as you think about what you can do to get your site noticed.
  • Good content of course is the first given.
  • If you have an opinion, keep it constructive.
  • Acknowledge that there is more than one way to do things

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jury Duty & The Home Alone Twins!

I've been proud of the fact that my dogs have been minimally destructive throughout the past 19 months. I've even bragged to family about how good my dogs have been. I've left them in the past for 6 hours at a time with access even to the inside of the house with no problem. And then along came this week - JURY DUTY!

I was assigned to be part of the jury pool for a murder trial - ugh!! The first day they sent us home in the morning, unfortunately telling us that we would likely go all week as the final jury was chosen. The next morning I was up and out before my husband and the dogs were out of bed. Fortunately I was close enough to the courthouse that I came home for lunch, only to find this most charming "artistic" rendering strewn across the entire surface of my driveway.

I was so frustrated I couldn't say a word. After standing dumbfounded for several seconds I opened my cell phone and pix messaged the above photo to my husband. I knew what he had done without him even telling me. He decided to take one of his garage mats and leave it for them to lay on so that they "could be comfortable". Obviously they had other creative ideas when it came to the grey foam mat.

The next morning he assured me that any overblown compassion he may have felt the day before was gone. I suggested that when he left he should bring out all their bones to keep them occupied. My morning in the jury pool was exasperating as the lawyers began to interview the first group of 18 chosen as jurors. Several were dismissed and as the noon recess approached I began to dread the next roll call. Sure enough I soon found myself in a jurors seat being interview by the defence attorneys. By the time the noon recess was called I was juror #2. I had very mixed feelings at this point as much as I was willing to do my civic duty I had no desire to spend likely over a month of my life being dragged through the details of the murder. I don't enjoy TV shows or movies of this nature and I certainly didn't want to have it in my face, real life with no ability to turn it off or change the channel. I would be a very long and hard month.

This was my state of mind when I arrived home to fine yet another artistic rendering strewn across my driveway. My hope of enjoying my lunch snuggled up with my dogs went up in flames. There before me lay another wasteland. And the source of their artistic medium hung pathetically in tatters.

What had inspired this was beyond me. It's not like the fence had magically turned into beef jerky but from the looks of things you would have thought is was. Their throw-up and their poop over the next 8 hours was proof that some bizarre delusion had over come them. More had been eaten then I dreamed possible given the complete lack of enticing flavor that wood could possibly have had.

Once again I spent my lunch cleaning instead of getting my mind off my morning. The return to the court room was a dread. Obviously our driveway was in much need of dog proofing, dog proofing that I thought we were well past at this stage. When the lawyers took up their juror questioning again it was hard not to be frustrated at the redundancy in their line of questioning with some of the potential jurors. After a five minute recess the judge called us back into the court room and the lawyers were given the opportunity to dismiss jurors. When the defense turned and thanked me and said I was excused I could have jumped out of my seat. I happily stood and floated out of the courtroom. I was done, and obviously the dogs and the driveway were better off for it.
I categorized this photo under Humor as someday soon I'll be able to laugh about this weeks foray into my dogs hidden Picasso talents.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dog Dreams - & other Sunday morning reflections

Sundays are made for snuggling with your dog, especially cold Sunday mornings when your husband offers to get up with the dogs and feed them so you can stay in bed. Of course, when he sends one back into the room to snuggle with you the perfect Sunday morning is set.

Caught somewhere between sleep and that half sleep state my conscious was stirred when Shelby's legs began to twitch and my hand across his chest sensed the change of rhythm in his pulsing heart. His snoring had shifted to quick breaths with long pauses in between. His eyes fluttered quickly almost in rhythm to his heart beat. Half a sleep myself all this was captured in mere seconds as I drifted deeper into my own blissful Sunday morning dreamland. I remember subconsciously whispering in his ear, "where ever you are little boy, I hope you are having fun".

I remember after Nutmeg had her spay surgery she used to whimper and cry in her sleep. Sometimes in the middle of the night I would soothingly call her name and in a soft steady voice offer reassuring words. The whimpering would stop and a soft groan or deep sigh would signal that she had woken just enough to shift positions and go back to sleep.

There is something very special in these wonderful creatures we share our lives with that we will never fully understand. What do dogs dream of? Do they process their worries and cares, joys and fantasies in their dreams?

We took the dogs to the beach on Saturday. It was a gorgeous day for the first week in December. Low tide, clear skies, warm sun, wide open beach, you couldn't ask for anything better. The dogs were grinning and laughing from ear to ear. Every muscle pulsed with excitement as we walked down to the shore. I was not the only one relishing in the sheer joy of the moment, we all felt the treasure laid out before us. My husband laughed at Nutmeg who was bubbling over with excitement at his feet. As he launched the ball out along the shore our two dogs charged after it like unfurled bolts of lightening. It was a very good day.

Perhaps Sunday morning Shelby was once again back at the beach, chasing waves and flying red balls. Where ever he was hopefully I was not far behind. Slowly my own thoughts drifted away leaving me light as a feather floating on a soft bed under warm sheets with my personal heater snuggled in front of me chasing ahead of me into dreamland.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let's be honest about Labradors

Labradors are a challenging breed to own. Raising Labradors from 8 weeks old is even more challenging. Just when you think the worst is over, because they have stopped chewing everything in sight including you, they become "teenagers". If you make it through puppy adolescence with your sanity intact the full realization hits as to the extent of the commitment you've embarked on.

Please don't misunderstand me. I absolutely love my two Labradors. I wouldn't trade them for the world regardless of the challenges the last year and 1/2 have brought. I just think that it's very important to really consider what you're doing when you choose to bring a Labrador into your life.

My thoughts went in this direction after talking to a young woman at the park. She was in the area on chance and when she saw me and my Labradors out for some exercise and ball fetch time she stopped to let her dog get some wiggles out. As it turns out she was raised with a Labrador as the family pet. Of course, this Labrador was the ideal perfect temperament of a Labrador. When her mom got divorced they bought her a Labrador, this was her mom's Labrador she had with her. Unfortunately with the house a lot quieter, now that all the children were adults and no longer at home, this new addition to the family had been able to set all the rules. As the daughter told me the story I realized quietly to myself what a huge mistake they had made. Her mom was out of her element in setting limits and establishing good leadership for the Labrador, not to mention offering him good exercise. Than there was the fact that he was intact and even she admitted this made him harder to control if another dog was around. At two years old this Labrador's behavior was easily 8 months behind Shelby.

With this in the back of my mind I saw an article and it made me think that more people need to see the full picture when it comes to Labradors. The article is titled: "Labrador Retrievers: What's good about 'em, What's bad about 'em." Although I don't agree with everything mentioned in this article it is worth considering many of the points brought up before you decide on a Labrador Retriever as your next "family member."

If you find yourself reading this and saying, "too late - I've got one and they are part of the family now", please realize that the challenges I found in raising my two Labradors is why I started this blog. Hopefully this blog will help you find the answers you need to enjoy what in my opinion is one of the best breed of dogs.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's really in pet food?

Have you ever wondered what is really in commercial pet food not to mention all animal feed? (That also includes the animals that become our own meat source at our table.) I did and before our dogs came home I did the following Google search:

"What's really in dog food?"
I learned a lot more than I'd bargained for. When it comes to dog and cat food the Animal Protection Institute has some disturbing things to say.
Get The Facts: What’s Really in Pet Food
Animal Protection Institute
[excerpt]
What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.
Than there is the animal feed indusrty in general. Check out this disturbingly insiteful news video clip.

If your thinking, "well what do I feed my dogs than?", check out The Animal Advocate link here and in the sidebar. Also worth your time are the following books I've mentioned before.
You can also check out the back issues of "The Whole Dog Journal" to purchase the following excellent articles:
I feed my dogs and cat Flint River Ranch, that being said it may not be the right fit for you and your pets. However, I hope that armed with the above information you will find a dog or cat food that you feel comfortable giving to your beloved "family members".

Updated 11/28/06
Here's a very informative article form "The Peeing Post", and editor Mogens Eliasen
Our Holistic vet told us to include a handful of chopped salad with the new food and to make the switch in one meal. Although it worked for us at the time I am not sure it was the most ideal. Personally I just wanted my dogs off the commerical "garbage" that the breeder had unfortunately started them on at 3 weeks of age. The extra bulk/fiber from the salad I believe is what helped ease the diarrhea almost over night. This had been making the transition very difficult. The customer service person I contacted at Flint River recommended adding a heaping spoonful of cooked outmeal to the new food. This also worked very well and with in 2 months we were fine. Part of the picture was the dogs had just gone through spay and neutering surgery. The holistic vet recommended Milk Thistle for a month to help detox thier liver of the anesthesia. I recently read that Mild Thistle also works specificly in the intestines and is good for diaherrea bouts in general.

Home Sweet Home

There's nothing like coming back home to our beloved pets after 5 days away. We were fortunate enough to have a great young couple stay and house sit and care for our pets while we were gone. Even with this in place I was still anxious in the weeks leading up to our departure.

With everything we've worked through with their training, especially with Shelby, I was a darn proud "mom" when, prior to leaving we went to the park with the couple who would be caring for them, and Shelby made a smooth and obedient transition from me giving him the commands to them giving him the commands. I knew this was critical as without the assurance that he would obey them it would have been impossible for them to take the dogs out for good running and exercise at the park. I figured that if the dogs were mainly taken in the evening with there "Fetch & Flash" glow ball there would be very little chance of distraction from other dogs. This would avoid the possibility of Shelby taking off.

Well much to my pride and joy, by the last day our house sitting couple felt so confident with how good the dogs had obeyed they took them out mid afternoon. Despite several other dogs being around our dogs were mindful and obedient. I felt like a parent hearing about their child being named on the honor roll for their straight A report card. All that we've worked for, all the time we've put in had paid off. My dogs had learned the rules so well they were able to enjoy the freedom and fun of extended off leash play time even without me being there. What a huge milestone in their development. Of course it is also very true that they were in the best of hands and all went well.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bark Busters - The truth will be told: Part 2

Once again thanks to all for continuing the discussion. I appreciated the link someone provided to the journal entry where another dog owner, Erin, talks about her own personal experience with Bark Busters. For those of you who are interested here it is as an edited active link: journals.aol.com/erinsjournal[ ...]bark-busters. I must however comment on this journal entry.

Erin writes the following:

"The only downside is that during the 5 week training period, the dogs are not allowed to be on the couch or bed when I am. Part of establishing dominance. We still fight about it at bed time every night."
Suzanne Clothier in her book "Bones Would Rain from the Sky" she discusses the absurdity in the notion that to "establish dominance" dogs can not share the couch or bed with you. She points out that the couch or bed is not the issue, the issue is will your dogs willingly give up the location at your request.

Then there is this comment:
"Basically, they teach you how to be the leader of the pack using vocal and body language that my dogs at least, seem to understand."
Is she saying here that Bark Busters teaches owners to use vocalizations such as "growls" and "barks" to redirect dogs? Please, someone correct me if I am wrong. Is this what Erin is referring to when she says: "using vocal . . . language that my dogs at least, seem to understand." If spoken commands can be taught and used for many other behaviors than why are unintelligible sounds needed? We are the ones here with the higher intelligence, are we not? I implore any and all "dog owners and lovers" (hopefully these two are synonymous) to read Suzanne's book. Dogs are very intelligent creatures and with loving, fair, dog compassionate leadership they are the best companions anyone could hope for.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I realized in planning our trip for the holidays that are dogs vocabulary understanding is quite impressive. I put together a list, for the couple that will be house sitting for us over the holidays, all the words are dogs know. I know this will help them as they spend time with the dogs in the everyday routines they are familiar with. I thought I'd share the list here in hopes that if you haven't considered how intelligent your dogs are you'll see that you've underestimated your faithful companions. Of course this is only the spoken words that our dogs understand and says nothing about the nonverbal communication we convey; nonverbal communication that they are masters in deciphering.

  • Sit
  • Wait -- stay there until I say you can move, or at least stay in that area
  • Stay -- stay there and don’t move until I come back and release you
  • Lay down -- lay completely down with your hip on the ground - not the easy jump back up again position
  • Down -- same as “lay down”
  • Come -- come and sit in front of me
  • Go to your bed -- when in the kitchen refers it to their kitchen bed, when in the office it refers to their office bed, used before meals and when they’re under foot or pestering me
  • Go outside
  • Outside please
  • Go potty
  • Out -- get out of that room, space, location - more corrective in our house
  • Inside please -- into the house typically
  • Ready -- for the next throw when playing fetch, to go some where
  • Ready to “eat” -- a very magical phrase as far as they are concerned
  • Back up -- for when they are in the way, when Shelby is not all the way on his bed in the kitchen before meals - tell him to "back up” onto his "bed”, when they are pushing ahead of you to go in the door
  • Behind -- when they are rushing ahead of you or blocking you when going through doorways
  • Off -- if they jump on you and you want them to get off you
  • No jump -- if their jumping when you first get home and are over excited
  • Let’s go -- when walking after coming to a stop & sitting by your side, said before crossing the street, or continuing after stopping
  • Heel -- walk at your left side
  • Side -- walk on your right side, a new command so they are still getting the hang of this one
  • Go Play -- when I’m sending them outside to burn some energy on their own out in the driveway
  • Bring it -- return the toy or ball and drop it at your feet or in your hand
  • Find it -- used when playing with them, i.e. “go find your bone”, “go find your ball”, “go find your toy”
  • Go get your -- "ball", "bone", "toy", ect. - when you’re playing with them
  • Go to your crate -- at night when we’re putting them to bed
  • Life is a beautiful dance, Always keep your balance

    Life is a beautiful dance, Always keep your balance

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    About Me

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    I'm a California girl! & Happily married "mom" of 2 yellow labradors, who teach me everyday.

    Leave a "tail wag", send a note, or say "Hi"

    If you find the information useful please let me know.
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    2labs1mom[at]gmail[dot]com

    Start at the beginning

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    For the Love of Labradors (Only)

    Year 1: Puppy Album

    What we live for . . .

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    Because . . .
    full moon = low tide,
    & low tide = yipee,
    we're headed to the beach!!

    Fun Labrador Artwork

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    My Disclaimer

    Everything you will read here comes from our real experiences; all the fun, all the mistakes, all the struggles, and how I have tackled each problem. I'm not promoting a training approach solely for monetary gain as so many are on the web. All of the links to web based dog "training articles" are Free. I simply hope this blog serves as a starting point for your quest. Remember the answers are out there if you only look so,
    "Never Stop Learning".
    Despite the knowledge I continue to acquire while raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, I am not a trained professional. The information contained in this blog, "For the Love of Labradors", is strictly intended to be experiential and educational in nature. Readers should always seek professional advice, before initiating any of the advice contained in any blog post here in the "For the Love of Labradors" Blog.

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