Page 338 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 338

                 Labrador Retriever Q & A
 “I was once told that every dog that comes into your life is for a reason and he is here to teach me something. When I struggle to understand one of my puppies or dogs, I have always remembered that.”
I live in Loudon, New Hampshire where my husband and I have lived for the past 25 years. I currently work for USDA-Food Nutrition Service.
Do I feel the breed’s popularity helps or hurts the breed in the long run? I think it’s a combination of both.
How has the breed adapted to civilian life? While our Labradors compete in the show ring, my husband also is an avid bird hunter. I as I mention below, I really believe their temperament and how you raise them allows for its true Labrador qualities come out.
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? The temperament of the Labrador is so important. As with any breed it’s important to socialize and train them when they are young. If you don’t provide that foundation early, spend time with them, then the dog is not easy to live with. Which means you won’t be able to enjoy them and most importantly, it’s not fair to the dog.
What special challenges do Labrador breeders face in our cur- rent economic and social climate? Social media. I think social media has had a huge impact not just with Labrador breeders but with all breeders. While I feel it can be positive, I also feel it’s negatively impacted our breed. Breeders are more likely to reach out to that social media breeder, who has is always posting their dogs on Insta- gram and/or Facebook, to either buy a puppy or breed to their stud dog, without doing their research. I have been mentored to research pedigrees and the health of the pedigrees when selecting a stud dog or purchasing a puppy and most importantly physically see and put your hands on the dog.
At what age I you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I think it’s an individual decision for each dog. Some pedigrees mature fast and other pedigrees mature for three to four years. I think you need to assess each dog on its own. As we know, not all dogs are considered “show-worthiness”. In our kennel, we keep dogs to improve the breed and our kennel, not just to compete in the show ring.
Can the breed’s hard-headedness can make them difficult to train? I wouldn’t say that a Labrador is “hard-headed”. Labradors are very smart and intellectual dogs. Like people, some are very smart. I think as a breeder and owner you need to adjust your train- ing styles to accommodate the dog’s needs. I was once told that every dog that comes into your life is for a reason and he is here to teach me something. When I struggle to understand one of my pup- pies or dogs, I have always remembered that. It seems to work for us.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? When I have judged sweep- stakes, I always think to myself “which dog would I like to take home today?” and stick true to it. Don’t fault judge. Find a dog and use that dog to compare the other dogs to throughout your assign-
ment. You may not find that dog until later in your assignment. And most importantly, find a breeder who you respect and admire. Ask them to become your mentor, sit with them at ringside, ask them to explain to you what they like and what they don’t like about the dog as it is being judged. Ask lots of questions and always keep learning.
My ultimate goal for the breed? That we stay true to the Labra- dor Standard in all areas; whether conformation, hunting, agility and/or obedience.
My favorite dog show memory? Oh where do I start! There are so many memories I could write a book. It was last year at the National Labrador Specialty when Theodore won Best of Breed. It was an emotional and overwhelming moment for me. A year of my hard work and my husband’s time and energy on helping keep in condi- tion along with the knowledge and experience of our Handler truly made it a rewarding experience.
I live in a small town called Sanger, Texas on the north side of Ft Worth. I have been involved with my family in the breed since the age of ten. Our first show Labrador was shown beginning in 1989 at which time I also showed in Junior showmanship.
For my outside job, I am actually a sales rep in the pet food industry. I work for Smuckers and we have a variety of brands including but not limited to: Natural Balance, Nutrish, Natures Recipe, Milkbone to name a few.
Diane — I live just north of Erin in Gainesville, Texas. We got our first Labrador in 1987 with the intent of showing her in confor- mation and for Erin in junior showmanship.
I work as the Director of Laboratory services for Medical City Plano hospital in Plano Texas.
Do I feel the breed’s popularity helps or hurts the breed in the long run? I have been in the breed so long with it being number one I honestly don’t even notice it anymore.
How has the breed adapted to civilian life? We actually take great pride in our dogs trying to get titles on both ends of their names. We currently have a young boy in training for his JH, and some that are ready to compete starting in Rally soon. I really feel that is provides balance not only in the breeding program, but for the dog as well.
I think if you train your dog to work- you gain a dog who has obedience that can really make a difference in your home. No one wants to live with an unruly dog!
What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? A Lab- rador is a dog that should be able to walk into any household and assimilate to daily life without any major disruptions. Sure, you are adding a new family member, but the breed itself is biddable and easy going. While they may be big and strong, with proper train- ing, the Labrador should not overpower anyone in the household. They should be calm, willing to please, and easy going. These quali- ties in itself make the breed desirable. I commonly hear and joke about shedding. Labradors definitely shed and sometimes we do vacuum daily!
 336 • ShowSight Magazine, noveMber 2019

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