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Yellow Labrador at 9 Months

July 3rd, 2007

Well the “pup” is growing bigger everyday… where’s the little puppy I brought home?!  He’s about 71 pounds now… amazing.  Last time I weighed him he was only 57 pounds- I think at 7 months.  He’s not going to get a lot bigger- his sire was about 85 pounds.  The “English” style Labrador Retrievers tend to be smaller than the “American” type of labs, but also a little more blocky and full-bodied.  He’s a charmer… and so full of energy now it’s incredible.  I took a week off from training retrieves in the pond.  Yesterday we started again when I launched a decoy across the pond. I didn’t intend for it to go that far- probably close to 100 yards.  He charged right in and swam almost to the other side, picked it up, and swam all the way back.  First time to swim that far!  I wondered if he would see the shoreline a few yards away on the other side, and get out of the water- maybe even run back on land. But he didn’t even think about it… at least not yet!   It’s not all cake and roses however… he’s getting more rambunctious, and testing me at every step.  He listens and does pretty well overall, but I need to be more consistent with his obedience training.  We have two other dogs, and when I let him run around he just goes nuts playing with them.  It’s important for him to run and get the exercise though.  My goals for the rest of the summer include dedicated training sessions with introducing decoys and multiple retrieves.  If all goes well, I should be able to take him on his first duck hunt in late fall.  He’s such a loving dog though, and very smart.  He’s got me pretty well figured out!

Yellow Labrador Retriever at 9 months

Welcome Summer!

June 22nd, 2007

Hot, humid and busy days this week.  Summer is upon us, and the temperatures agree… it was 90 F today and sunny.  I’ve always been one to enjoy air conditioning here- the humidity is so high it can be overpowering in the afternoons.  We have not had enough rain the past month, and so much needs watering.  I can hardly keep up with all the hoses… some day maybe we will put an irrigation system around the house and property- that would be wonderful!  But here are a few pictures of the young lab at the lake- it was nice to be in the water. 

This picture was overexposed, but with a little adjustment it made a neat black and white picture.  He’s such a happy Labrador Retriever!  The puppy became quite the “boat dog.”  He loved jumping to the dock, or just sleeping in the boat.  And he “fell in the water” a few times as well.  Swam like a pro and climbed back up the ladder!

A Black and White picture of the happy Labrador

 

 I had fun being pulled on a tube behind the boat.  It was my first time, and yes- I finally fell out…  You can see the big splash… that’s me!

Falling out of the tube with a big splash

 

Another picture of the Yellow Lab… he enjoyed laying down in the front of the boat.  It was fun to have him with us!

Yellow Labrador Retriever

Pond Swimming, Swallows and Turtles

May 16th, 2007

A day spent cutting grass… after yesterday’s rain a cool front came through so the opportunity was perfect to get more things done outdoors.  But there was time to see the sights and take the dog swimming for a few retrieves.  He loves the water now and dives in with abandon.  I threw the orange bumper way out in the pond today and he swam for it… but missed it and swam in circles several times!  He almost swam across the pond, but came back at my call and finally saw the bumper floating in the distance.  He was ready for more when he finished.  

 Yellow Labrador Retriever swims for the training bumper.

We have a pair of Barn Swallows that migrate to South America and back and return each year in mid-April.  In May they begin to nest… using the same nest each year above the garage on top of some outdoor lights.  I don’t know how many years they’ve been coming, but it’s at least 5 or 6 years now.  Once they begin nesting they become a little pesky and swoop at you when you stand too near the nest. But their flight is beautiful to watch and they eat many insects each day.  Last week there were five barn swallows all flying around the garage area… I’d like to think they were last year’s young birds returning to say hello.  In some places they can become a problem, with many birds building nests.  But we’ve only had one pair and that’s just fine with me!

 Barn Swallow perched on roof while watching the nest.

The Barn Swallow nest above the garage.

We have several turtles in the pond, but I’m not really sure of the species.  Missouri has quite a few different turtle species if you want to see them here.  We did see a Snapping Turtle last year, walking through the grass to look for a place to lay eggs.  The turtle in this picture is about 10-12 inches long, and probably a Slider or Missouri Slider, especially with the small indentation in the side of the shell at the rear.  I took the photo from a distance with the telephoto lens… when you walk anywhere near them, they slide quickly back into the water.

A pond turtle basking in the sun on a stump.

Yellow Labrador at 8 Months

May 9th, 2007

The pup is really growing up now… he’s been going through an independent phase, but the training is working.  A little more each day I find his responsiveness to commands is increasing.   He is so eager to please, so enthusiastic, and so… vibrant in his zest for life.  The only thing he really lacks is a quality field trainer!!!  I believe he could do amazing things if I was more knowledgeable… today he stayed while I threw multiple “marks” or floating bumpers in the pond.  I sent him for the first and without hesitation he dove right in, brought it back, then I sent him for the second and he brought it back.  I threw one half-way across the pond… probably 50 yards out, and he swam out and back with confidence.  I’m enjoying the time with him, and I hope to train him more effectively in the next few months.  Many duck hunters would be using electric collars, live birds and many more tools to achieve a quality hunting retriever.  I really don’t want to use the electric collar… he has a gentle temperament and somehow I think we would lose something.  Many dogs can be very stubborn and refuse to learn or train, but thus far he is eager to learn at each step.  We’ll keep training and trying new things.  He may not become an extroardinary hunting retriever, and that’s okay.  Somehow we’ll figure things out along the way.

Yellow Labrador Retriever at 8 months © Fox Haven Media 2007

Water Dog… the Yellow Lab Pup Learns to Swim!

May 5th, 2007

A wet day today!  But not because of rain… it was warm and partly sunny.  I let the pup out earlier to play and he proceeded to get very muddy.  So it became the day for the pup to learn to swim!   During fall, late winter and over the past couple months I took the lab to the pond to play by the shoreline.  He loved splashing in the water and racing up and down, but was a little hesitant to venture more than a few inches in, partly because the water was so cold I’m sure.  So now the water is over 60 degrees, just perfect for swimming.  The six-year old also wanted to swim in the pond, so we made it a family affair with Mom taking the pictures.  It was actually great to have the young boy jumping and swimming in the water after his floatie toys, and I had my waders on to get in with both of them. I was suprised how ready the pup was however.  I started out by coaxing him in the water so he could stand on his feet.  Then I supported his chest and swung him in a circle in deeper water a few times.  At first he didn’t like not having something under his feet.  But by the third time he was paddling furiously, and I had an orange bumper to entice him.  He loves toys, especially retrieving them.  So after teasing him a little and letting him get the bumper in shallow water, I threw it out a little bit further a couple times.  Then it was time… I threw it out about 10 feet in deeper water. Without hesitation he ran and jumped in the water after it.  When he reached the deep water he just kept on swimming!  Hooray!  He grabbed the bumper and turned right around to bring it back.  I think he was suprised at himself.  After that there was no stopping him- he sat and stayed while I threw it out a little further each time, and jumped in to swim for it each time without hesitation.  He loved it so much he was going crazy waiting for me to throw it.  After five times, with the last one being about 20-30 yards out, I stopped him on a good note.  He was ready for more, but I want to keep his enthusiasm up before he tired out.  I didn’t mean to throw it out so far the last time, but he went right for it, and was swimming stronger than he had so far.  I was really happy for him- certainly swimming should be natural especially for a Labrador Retriever, but he’s 7 1/2 months old now, and had never been swimming.  I’ll keep training him and working with his enthusiasm, but so far so good!

I coax the dog into the water and help him swim in circles while supporting his chest.

Supporting the 7-month old Yellow Lab in the water for his first swimming lessons.

The boy shows the Lab how fun the water is when he “retrieves” his own bumper!  It was great to see the six-year old swimming in the pond also.  He has been asking for weeks to swim in the pond (he takes lessons at the YMCA), but we waited until it warmed up enough. He wore shoes and a good life vest as well, and had a good shower after he finished!

 The young boy swims in the pond for his first time also his first water retrieve!

I give the “Stay” command for the Lab to wait until I throw the bumper.  Then as he quivers with excitement… “Back!” and he leaps in the water.  He knows he can swim now, and is intent on the orange bumper… he wants to get it!

The Lab stays for his first water retrieves he really wants that bumper!

The Labrador’s fifth water retrieve… he doesn’t hesitate and paddles furiously.

Yellow Lab swims for the bumper

The pup grabs the bumper and begins turning around.

Yellow Lab pup gets his bumper

Look at me!  I got it!  He was swimming really well after just 30 minutes in the water.  I waited seven months for the water to warm up so his first time would be all fun.  What a joy to see the Labrador swimming!

The Yellow Lab returning with the bumper after his first 5 water retrieves.  He loves it!

Yellow Lab is Growing Up

March 19th, 2007

The Pup is almost 6 months old… he’s getting big!  He’s a charming one to be sure… great temperament and a fun-loving nature.  We are still training for retrieves, yet not as much as I would like.  He finished his first obedience class with flying colors.  Now we’re working on refining that including heeling better.  He is still teething somewhat and loves to chew. But I see a glimmer of hope that he won’t eat everything he sees… he is calming down ever so slightly from puppyhood.  I’m more concerned that he’ll eat something to hurt himself or make him sick!  I am amazed at his energy, and try to allow him the chance to run and play outside as well as walking and training.  He’s not swimming yet, but loves to play in the shallow water of the pond.  I will probably need to get in there with him in a couple months… he can be tentative at times.  He didn’t want to go up or down stairs until about a month ago.  He does so just fine now, but prefers that I lead the way.  He rides in the car very well and doesn’t bark at all.  The only time he ever whines is to let us know he needs out, or he’s really hungry!  I’ll be traveling next week and will miss him and the family!  I’ll be curious how he responds when I return… I’ve been his primary trainer and companion for these six months. 

Sleeping quietly on a deck in the warm March sun when visiting “Meemaw”!

Yellow Labrador Retriever, sleeping at 6 months

And who’s that in bed for story time?  I think he loves it up there…

Yellow Lab in bed for story time

 

Yellow Lab Pup… 5 Months old!

February 25th, 2007

Hard to believe the “little guy” is almost 5  months old now… he grows so fast!  Our training is going well, although the wet winter weather has dampened my enthusiasm a bit (not his of course!).  We get outside almost every day, and still practice obedience and retrieves.  As soon as it warms up I will try to get him in the water.  I really think he’s “a natural” when it comes to retrieving and training… the only problems are with my consistency which I’m finding is the hardest thing to maintain.  If nothing else, I try to do a little bit each day and hold him accountable for what he does know.  I find that reinforcing his prior training pays dividends toward what he learns next.  Perhaps that’s true with all of us!   Think I’ll look for some professional training opportunities as well. What a wonderful dog he is…  here’s a picture from a couple days ago.

Yellow Labrador Retriever © Fox Haven Media

Labrador Puppy Training!

January 9th, 2007

The Beau of Fox Haven (my psuedonym!) is the most recent member of the family- a beautiful Yellow Labrador Retriever.  He is now 14 weeks, and doing wonderfully.  One of my many dreams since childhood, many realized, some forgotten- was to have a Lab as a companion.  More specifically that dream included training the pup as a working retriever, including duck hunting. 

I have found the training to be as challenging as anything I have ever done, both in terms of time and the patience and discipline to be consistent.  I have tremendous respect for those who have the skill and motivation to be successful with training animals.  So much have we learned together during this process, and I must admit the pup is learning despite my shortcomings! 

© Fox Haven Media

What a gift to have such a wonderful animal be a part of our lives. His temperament is tremendous, and his energy is boundless as most other Labrador owners will attest.  It is hard to say how his training will evolve, and to what end. I suspect any limitations in his achievements will reflect the limitations of my own ability to work with him, and to that end we are starting a puppy class next week.  He shows tremendous promise, so perhaps we will also join a local retriever club and see what the future holds!



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