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Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It’s hard to believe! Oliver and Amelia have turned two!

The memory of the super soft fur, tiny ears and puppy breath still lingers in my mind.

While watching them play in the littler box, I used to wonder how they would be when they grow up?

I also remember all the planning, socializing, natural rearing so they would grow into smart, loving and healthy dogs.

Let me tell you that even though they were raised in identical conditions, they have turned out to be my YING/YANG pair!

Oliver is the best dog one could ever hope for: loving, obedient, smart, eager to please, an awesome retriever and swimmer. The icing on the cake is that he is also a handsome dog. When we go to agility trials, he has a fan club of admirers that come to pet him and comment on how gorgeous he is. As a proud mom, I could not be happier and more grateful.

Amelia, on the other hand does not come to the trials with us. Why? First of all she is not even close to being ready to compete and second she is a HANDFUL!

Amelia has one and only one mission in her life: cram the most amount of fun into the shortest amount of time! She wants your undivided attention all of the time, she wants to play, chase, run, steal anything remotely edible, hoard all the toys, jump on you, bug the other dogs and sleep on top of you. All of this done with at least three times the force a “normal” dog would use leaving everyone involved bruised and exhausted.

She had her own B-Day party by jumping on the dining room table, stealing a Blueberry marmalade jar (glass of course), taking the lid off and eating it’s contents until it was not even sticky anymore.

Maybe the lesson in this is to be grateful for the awesome things in your life and love everyone for their own uniqueness.


Brian has a home! I should say a perfect home.
My colleague Marge Spence, who teaches up in Alachua, referred the most wonderful family I could every hope for. After a bad experience with a previous puppy that they ended having to return to the breeder, they were looking for a little guy or gal with a nice mellow temperament. Their perfect Labrador girl “Amber” had died at 12 1/2 years from a brain tumor and finally the “right” time had come for a new puppy to enter their lives.
I prefer to sell my puppies to previous lab owners, because the chewing phase in Labradors can be quite a challenge, to put it mildly. So when I know that they know what they are getting into I feel better. The cherry on the sundae is the fact that both mom and dad jog and they will eventually take Brian on their runs. A tired dog is a GOOD dog!

The couple came first to check Brian out as they did not want their 10-year old to have to go through another disappointment if this was not “the” puppy. One week later, they came with their son. Since they wanted to keep it a surprise, he was told that they were going out to lunch and then that they were taking a different route back home. Content in the back seat, probably playing a video game, he all of a sudden found himself in our yard with a playful Labrador puppy running to meet him.

While emailing back an forth I learned that the son’s birthday had not been long ago. I offered to put a bow on Brian as a surprise gift for the boy. Upon further thought, I realized that a bow would quickly be shredded to pieces by a curious 14 week old puppy, so I got him a “Gator” bandanna instead. I also knew the dad worked at the University of Florida and I assumed they must be Gator fans. My hunch was confirmed when they all got out of the car and the THREE of them are wearing Gator T-Shirts!

The look on this little boy’s face when he was told that this was HIS puppy is one of those special moments when you get divine reassurance that you are doing what your are meant to do here on this earth.
So it was a literally a bittersweet moment when I placed Brian in the arms of his new family. But I know that he has a mission: to bring them joy, companionship and happiness, what dogs are meant to do here on this earth.
Brian is now named Zeus. He has big shoes to fill, but I have no doubt in my mind that he will do a fantastic job. I also know that “Amber ” who is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge is smiling down on him.

“Who me?”

Today Oliver had his first mud bath. His sister Amelia was his partner in crime. The photo speaks for itself!
If you do not feel like – or have the time- to bathe a muddy dog, the best way to deal with him is to put him in his crate until he is completely dry. All the dirt will fall off as it dries. A quick brushing is all it will take to get him looking like a decent dog again. You will have to wash the crate tray, but that is less time consuming than bathing a dog.

I decided Oliver could have his first bath after his mischivious incident. He took it fairly well, letting me lather and rinse him.
Baths always exhaust puppies, so he took a long nap laying on top of me.
Tired dogs are GOOD dogs!

Life Lessons

No nagging, no anger, no getting upset. Swift, to the point and perfectly fit to the “crime”. That is how dogs correct puppies, I wish I could be as effective.
I watch Oliver tug at a toy Holly is playing with. She follows along for a while, then Oliver starts getting cocky: growling, tugging harder and harder. Holly stops, stares at him and moves forward about 1/8 on an inch. Oliver drops the toy, pulls his ears back and bows in submission. Holly keeps on playing with her toy, Oliver wanders around a few minutes later the game, or should I say, lesson, starts again.
Sabrina has a slightly different method. Her Royal Highness enjoys a little more force in her corrections. Oliver comes over and tries to lick her face, already showing deference and submission. Sabrina growls deeply, Oliver plasters himself to the ground. Sabrina sniffs every inch of him while he remains paralyzed, Sabrina walks away smug and happy!
Now, if Oliver approaches Sabrina while she is chewing a bone or has any other precious possession nearby, Oliver will be pinned to the ground, he will squeal like she is killing him and Sabrina will poke and peck him a little. Oliver retreats bowing to her Royal Highness. Sabrina is in Cloud 9!
Either because Oliver is persistent, or because he is young and has the attention span of a gnat, this is repeated over and over when he is loose around the house. As hard as it is to watch, he is learning something we humans cannot teach him and these valuable lessons will make him an expert at reading “doggy language” a skill that will keep him out of trouble as well as enable him to make many new dog friends during his lifetime.

Welcome Oliver.

My son had decided on his name before we knew who Oliver was! Alas, after many days of watching my litter of four adorable Labrador Retriever puppies we have decided which one will be Oliver. He will be 8 weeks old on August 5th and his training has officially started. My hopes for Oliver is that he will become my next Agility dog. I thought it would be fun to write a blog while I watch him grow.

Today for the first time, I separated him from his two other litter mates that are still waiting for their “ideal homes”. They each took turns and stayed alone in a crate. No fun at all! Screams, howls and barks. No amount of toys in the crate convinced them even for a minute that this was a good idea. I decided to wait it out, surely they would tire and when they were quiet I could run and open the crate door. It took a while but we all survived. Hoping to make a “positive” impression I also fed them inside the crate.
My daughter stated that if I was going to repeat this tomorrow she was getting ear plugs!

Since Oliver is now a member of pack of five other dogs, we are also working on making this a “smooth” transition. The sooner he learns his place the better. Each dog in our pack has a slightly different method to accomplish this:

  1. His mom Holly who will be 5 years old in December would probably play with him however, all Oliver wants to do is nurse and she is totally sick an tired of this, not to mention skinny and with half the hair she used to have before she became a mother; she looks at me with the most grateful eyes when I take him off of her. We try to keep the pups way from her so she stops making milk
  2. His Grandfather Andre 12 years old who can’t run away from him fast enough
  3. His aunt Sabrina almost 10 who consistently and clearly teaches him the meaning of “alpha bitch”. I know that in few weeks she will play with him but for right now she is having a ball terrorizing him by growling a low fierce growl and watching him crawl away or roll over in deference to Her Royal Majesty!
  4. Morgan, a 6 year old Sheltie who knows that if this pup doesn’t respect her now that he is just about 5 pounds, she will be dead meat in a couple of weeks! If Morgan auditioned for Cujo II, I am sure she would get the part. The puppies now know that if they tease Morgan, they better run away FAST.
  5. Ella is a 7 year old Lab that is presently rehabbing from an injury, so we try to keep her quiet and walking on a leash, so right now she is not interacting to much with him. Ella usually pretends he doesn’t exist.
  6. Matilda, aka Tilly the Godmother of the litter. She is a rescue that belongs to my good friend Susan and we are boarding her for a year as Susan is on Army duty in Kuwait. We have estimated she is about two and very active and LOVES to play so she tolerates sharp puppy teeth much better than the rest of the pack