Maggie May the chocolate Labrador Retriever at 4 years old—"This is my Valentine Puppy, Maggie May. She was born in 2010 on February 14, Valentine's Day, which is funny because she is a chocolate labby:) I got Maggie in the spring of 2010. She was 4 1/2 months old. And totally crazy. For the first few months I had her, I had a tough-love relationship with her. Because she was pretty much out of control, along with being a very dominate puppy, I had to make sure from the beginning that she knew that I was the pack boss. As she got older she also showed some signs of aggression to dogs and people outside of our pack (family). I did not mind the aggression very much, as people don't expect Labs to be aggressive and that was good security thing to me, but I had to make sure that she knew that when I said "Stop it", "No", or "Knock it off", she would immediately cease her barking and/or growling. Maggie took to training like a pro. She loved to "work", as I called it. Her attention and focus on me was, and still is, out of this world. When she is playing with her doggie friends, I can call her out and she will practically fly to me, completely forgetting the other dogs and instead focusing on me. Her focus on me was so great that she was off leash trustworthy in nearly any situation by 11 months. Now at almost 5 years old, she is perfect. It takes a lot to get a dog close to perfection, and Maggie is as close to it as a dog can get in my opinion. Maggie has 3 canine siblings: Sugar, a 14 year old Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, is her best friend. Angus (3 year old mix breed) and Tippy (1 year old Pit Bull/Corgi) are her partners in crime. I call them The Three Hoods."
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most recognizable breeds of dogs. Even people who aren't dog lovers can recognize a Lab! They make great therapy dogs, service dogs and guide dogs, gun dogs retrieving upland game and fowl, search and rescue dogs, and are the best all-around family dog. Their health problems are similar to most large dogs. They are susceptible to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. Diabetes can also be a serious problem if your Lab suffers from obesity.
The Labrador’s hindquarters are broad, muscular and well-developed from the hip to the hock with well-turned stifles and strong short hocks. Viewed from the rear, the hind legs are straight and parallel. Viewed from the side, the angulation of the rear legs is in balance with the front. The hind legs are strongly boned, muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle, and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of the patellae while in motion or when standing. The hock joints are strong, well let down and do not slip or hyper-extend while in motion or when standing. Angulation of both stifle and hock joint is such as to achieve the optimal balance of drive and traction. When standing the rear toes are only slightly behind the point of the rump.
Best Made in USA Dog Toys: Because of all the work I have done reporting on the food industry, I’m frankly scared to give my dog chew toys made in China - which means almost all chew toys on the market. That’s why I love West Paw, a Bozeman, Montana-based company that makes all of its great products to exacting standards right here in the USA. My dog has always loved their plush toys (she still sleeps with one) but now she has grown into a powerful chewer and avid retriever, and because it’s almost impossible to find domestically made tennis balls, we use the durable Jive Dog Ball, made from a latex-free, BPA-and-phthalate-free, solid rubbery material that she hasn’t been able to even dent. It bounces, floats, and comes in three sizes. It’s part of the bigger Zogoflex line, all made of the same safe, clean and ultra-durable material, in a wide array of chew toy shape and sizes. These are great for outdoor play.
In his book Excursions in and About Newfoundland During the Years 1839 and 1840, the geologist Joseph Beete Jukes describes the St. John's water dog. "A thin, short-haired, black dog came off-shore to us to-day. The animal was of a breed very different from what we understand by the term Newfoundland dog in England. He had a thin, tapering snout, a long thin tail, and rather thin, but powerful legs, with a lank body, – the hair short and smooth." wrote Jukes. "These are the most abundant dogs in the country...They are no means handsome, but are generally more intelligent and useful than the others...I observed he once or twice put his foot in the water and paddled it about. This foot was white, and Harvey said he did it to "toil" or entice the fish. The whole proceeding struck me as remarkable, more especially as they said he had never been taught anything of the kind."
Number one in Americans’ preferences, Labrador Retrievers are the perfect companions for both single people and families. They’re playful, affectionate, and easy to train, so there’s no reason not to love such a dog. But having a Lab is a full-time job with no weekends off, and with vacations where you’ll be missing your dog more than you can imagine.
Just like people, as dogs get a little longer in the tooth, climbing and jumping onto things gets less fun and a lot less advisable. Unfortunately, as good as dogs are at doing dog-related things – like fetching and greeting – they tend to struggle with “don’t jump into the car anymore”, and other ideas that make sense to us. A portable dog ramp will save Fido from himself and help him get a lot more miles out of those old bones.