Thursday, March 6, 2014

LABRADOR RETRIEVER

I simply had to include this breed in my list of dogs as we have had two wonderful labradors in our life.

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 and second Earls of Malmesbury, who bred for duck shooting on the estate, and the 5th and 6th Dukes of Buccleuch, and youngest son of Lord George William Montagu-Douglas-Scott were instrumental in developing and establishing the modern labrador breed in 19th century England.  The dogs Avon ("Buccleuch Avon") and Ned given by Malmesbury to assist the Duke of Buchleuch's breeding programme in the 1880s, are considered the ancestors of the modern labradors.

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:
We never knew what had befallen Jenny before she came into our home but she was quite frightened of men.  I remember on several occasions when a man came to our back door (perhaps an insurance man or similar) poor Jenny would bark, to be protective of course, but would at the same time hide behind me.  I still think she was large enough, and her bark loud enough, to put off anyone from trying anything they shouldn't.  When my first husband and I separated the thing I missed the most was Jenny.  Aub went on to breed Jenny and I understand she produced some beautiful puppies.

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. 

8 comments:

  1. They have, and retain, such a large part of our hearts don't they? There are animals that I will always remember with love, just as you do with Jenny and Dinky.

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    1. Yes EC, I sometimes think they remain as vividly in our memories as do many of our friends we've had over the years.

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  2. They're beautiful! Jenny, Angel and Dinky. I love them. I've known a few labradors over the years, but never owned one. My brother in law had a cream lab when I first met my husband, his name was King and he was already quite old, having been with the family since before the kids were born I think. Much later, my daughters inlaws had a black labrador who sadly died from a twisted intestine. I've only ever seen one chocolate labrador, most have been the cream colour.

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    1. Thanks River, they were special.
      I've never seen a chocolate coloured lab nor many black ones for that matter. I sometimes think the females are a little gentler than the males but could be wrong, never having owned the latter. It is so sad when the die before their time.

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  3. You had two beautiful babies there...I just love that last picture. My folks had two black labs over the years. Both of them were real sweethearts.

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    1. They certainly were and you can imagine how my daughter, at just 16, was devastated when Dinky died so suddenly. The young dog took pride of place in our home while she was with us.

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  4. Lab. retrievers are wonderful dogs. The family of a former students raised this breed to become dogs for the blind. If we were to get a dog when we move, this would be the dog for us.

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    1. Labradors are so willing to help aren't they? Seems it's built into their nature. That's a wonderful contribution to society to raise dogs for such work.
      I would certainly recommend a labrador when you move and the golden retrievers are also beautiful but take more grooming. I do hope you are able to have one of these dogs as part of your home one day.

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