The LABRADOR RETRIEVER (simply Labrador, or Lab for short) is one of several kinds of retrievers, a type of gun dog. Even-tempered and well-behaved around young children and the elderly. Labradors are athletic, playful, and the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States (since 1991).
A favourite assistance dog in these and other countries, labradors are frequently trained to aid people who are blind and people with autism, act as therapy dogs, and perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies. They are prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs. A few kennels breeding these grew up in England; at the same time a combination of sheep protection policy (Newfoundland) and rabies quarantine (England) led to their gradual demise in their country of origin.
The first St John's dog was said to be brought to England in or around 1820; the breed's reputation had spread to England long before. There is a story that the Earl of Malmesbury saw a St. John's dog on a fishing boat and immediately made arrangements with traders to have some of these dogs exported to England. These ancestors of the first labradors so impressed the Earl with their skill and ability for retrieving anything within the water and on shore that he devoted his entire kennel to developing and stabilising the breed.
Labrador retrievers are registered in three colours: black (a solid black colour), yellow (it is considered from cream to fox-red), and chocolate (medium to dark brown).
There are so many stories about the bravery of these wonderful animals but one that stands out is that of Endal, here wearing his PDSA Gold Medal:
During a 2001 emergency Endal saved a man, retrieved his mobile phone from beneath the car, fetched a blanket and covered him, and then ran to a nearby hotel to obtain help.
I'd like to share with you the two labradors that have shared our lives:
First there was Jenny. She was a golden colour and a trained gun dog but her owner and his wife had separated. The man had kept Jake but had asked an aunt to look after Jenny while he found a home for her. Jenny it seems was kept tied up all day in the outdoor laundry of this aunt who apparently was not fond of dogs and not at all happy about having to care for Jenny. My first husband (who was a a duck hunter) heard of Jenny and bought her home. She was the most gentle, obedient, affectionate dog that I'd ever had anything to do with. I am more a cat person than a lover of dogs but Jenny stole my heart completely and those of my two children as well.
She was so well trained that when I went to the corner shop she would walk with me, sit and stay beside me before crossing the road and then while I was in the shop would stay put outside by the door, regardless of anything that happened, even other dogs would not make her budge from her post. We would take Jenny for a walk of an evening without the need for a lead and my tortoiseshell cat Angel would follow along behind. It was quite hilarious when Angel had kittens and the kittens would trail along too. It was a quiet street so no harm could happen to the kittens but we would round them up and take them back home, just in case. Jenny was so gentle she would carry the kittens around in her mouth just as a cat would, and Angel trusted her to do it. This is Jenny and Angel back in about 1965:
The other beautiful labrador that was part of our family for far too short a time was the one that my daughter Karen bought when she first began work. Dinky was a beautiful creamy colour and she was a lovely puppy that grew up into a gentle, loving pet. We had all the necessary immunisations etc., done but unfortunately when she was less than two years old she came down with a case of distemper and nothing could be done to save her life. Karen, Phil and I were devastated that we should lose such a wonderful friend when she was so young. The advice we received was that perhaps Dinky had not actually received a distemper injection which would have been the fault of the original vet we saw, but there was nothing to do that would bring Dinky back. Here are 2 pictures of her, ca1971, one as a pup and the other relaxing in one of the lounge chairs in our home. She always believed in making herself comfortable, and I am sure you can see a smile on her face.
(Hey, look at this...colour photographs at last!!).
The reason the last three photos are the shape they are is because I had cropped them for an album I made up of photographs of all our pets.