Training the Lab

October 13th, 2007

Few thoughts for today as we all catch up with things put off until the weekend.  But who am I kidding… among all the things to do we still must find time to relax and enjoy each day.  :) 

The Yellow Lab is eager to make a retrieve.   In the field I put a couple of pheasant wings in different places.  I’m marking the path for a blind retrieve…. which doesn’t mean a whole lot to him at this point.  He races towards the mark I give him, but then tails off in one direction or another before he quite gets there.  Instead of being as “direct” as he was last month, I think he’s feeling his oats lately… he loves to choose his own path.   I’ve got to work on that- although he does make the retrieve, it takes him longer now, he runs from one side the other, sometimes back, and wastes energy.  Sometimes I struggle to understand “how” to get him to do things… it’s part of his education, and most certainly it’s part of mine!

Marking the direction of the blind retrieve

He has grown to muscled youth with a vigor I can only look back upon.  The pheasant wing is in his mouth on the way back from finding its hiding place.

Yellow Labrador Retriever returning from retrieve


The pond was foggy on several days this week- I love the mist on the waters, and it makes me wonder what lurks in the deep?

Morning fog at the corner of the pond

Happy Birthday Pup! Yellow Lab is 12 Months

October 1st, 2007

     A big Happy Birthday to the Yellow Labrador today!  He was born on this day last year, and is leaving his puppy days behind.  He doesn’t mind however and is getting to be a big dog- I don’t even know his weight.  I took him to the field yesterday with some other Labs for dove hunting.  He has never met another Lab until yesterday… or a female dog.  Suffice it to say he was very excited!   He did okay though,  he found the birds before I did, but wasn’t really sure what to do with it the first time.  After that he made a decent retrieve, but is still a little mystified about the whole process.  I didn’t have a chance to work with him with real birds yet this year, but hopefully he’ll pick it up quickly as the season goes on.  But he’s just a great friend and fun to be around.

The Yellow Labrador Retriever at 12 months. Happy Birthday!


  It was time to turn the garden under, clean it up, and prepare it for next year.  We cut down all the stringy vines, and pulled up the old vegetation.  After trimming everything back (except for one lonely tomato plant), I carted all of it off to a pile that I can burn in the months ahead.  So then it was time to lay compost on top of the garden.  The tractor was really helpful, especially since the fence encloses the entire garden.  We could lower the bucket over the fence for filling it up, and dumping in the compost!  Newspapers do the trick over top of weeds and such.  We put them down and I used the tractor to scoop our compost and dump right on top.  The compost is really just leaf litter and grass clippings that have been in a pile for the last 3-6 months.  Hopefully it will help keep the weeds down, and we’ll add more leaf litter as top dressing over the fall and winter months.

The tractor helps with dumping, hauling and just about everything else!

Days of Light and Play

September 26th, 2007

What is it about light and the colors of the sky, the sun, the trees…  maybe I’ve written too many times on this subject, but I find myself drawn to the interplay of light and color in nature.  So if you’ll forgive me for indulging… actually, I need to just make that a recurring theme because I suspect I’ll be writing and posting similar pictures again! ;)    But Autumn is here, and it’s time to begin preparations for winter.  The garden is on its last legs, with the vines and plants looking very sad.  But we enjoyed the vegetables this summer.  And I need to go into business selling Jalapeno’s or something… they keep producing and producing.  From about 10 plants we’ve taken hundreds of little peppers this summer!  Over the next week I’ll try to cut back the garden and begin laying newspaper and compost on top. 

We were at the bus stop a little early this week and enjoyed the awakening light of dawn in the sky.

 The early light of dawn across the sky

The young one turned 7 years old this week.  Where does the time go?   He’s growing up so fast, and seems to enjoy just about everything.  Remember rolling down hills?  He loves to do that with the Yellow Lab chasing him. Soon they’ll have piles of leaves to roll in too.  They’re both kids… oh, and the Lab puppy is growing up too… he’ll be 1 year old next week.  I guess that makes both of them seven years old!

 The young boy rolls down the hill with the Yellow Labrador

Another picture of light through the trees.  This was a late afternoon picture the other day, as the sun began setting to the west.  I think one could mark the seasons by the position of the sun and the light as it changed through the trees.  I’m not that analytical perhaps, I just enjoy the subtle changes over time.

Light through the trees from the setting sun

Yellow Labrador at 11 Months

September 12th, 2007

    The young pup is a rambunctious fool!  Well, sometimes so am I… but we won’t go there right now :)   The Yellow Labrador Retriever is growing up so fast, and he’s just bursting with unbridled energy and enthusiasm.  Admittedly, he’s getting a little harder to control, but we work on obedience training regularly.  He listens very well, but tests the limits at every turn… I hold him accountable every time and he seems to respond very well.  We are still struggling with “heel” however.  He does heel, but gets ahead and becomes distracted at times.  I probably don’t work on that skill enough, so we’ll have to fix that, and any tips or insight would be appreciated.  He seems to like pictures though!

Picture 1 - Yellow Labrador at 11 Months

   His retrieving work is coming along very well.  He’s a total nut some times… The other day I had him sit/stay while I walked closer to the pond, then called “come” and he came running like a bulldozer, leaped off a small stump and went sailing about ten feet through the air like SuperDog!  “Whump!” as he landed and crumpled to the ground… I was concerned that he would hurt himself, but he jumped up ready for more as I shook my head.  And this dog loves water like there’s no tomorrow. Here he shows off his style running up the hill from the pond.

 The unstoppable Labrador Retriever!

    We have also been working on hand signals for marked and unmarked retrieves.  Put him sitting half way between a pile of bumpers, and give the “back” or “over” signal to the pile.  Off he runs and brings it back… not too bad, but he doesn’t like giving up the bumper.  We’re working on that aspect too…  But I placed one about 75-100 yards out, then gave him the “back” to retrieve… he started searching, nose-to-the-ground, about half way there, and ran the wrong direction left.  I whistled and gave him an “over” and he took off the other way… as he got close to the line of the mark/bumper, I gave him a “back” and he turned and went out like a pro!  He found it and brought it back, and I was amazed… sheer luck at this point, but he is a really smart dog.  As usual, he simply lacks a good trainer!  But we’re both learning as that goes, and it’s pretty neat.   

Picture 2-Yellow Labrador Retriever at 11 months


    The other morning we were surprised by a large flock of Canada Geese passing through.  They honked and honked while landing, and as I walked towards them to get a picture they flew off, scolding me for interrupting their choice parking spot!  They’ll be moving around a lot more in the months ahead.

Canada Gees flock after landing on the pond one morning.

Summer Canoeing in the Ozarks

August 7th, 2007

     We spent a few days last week in southern Missouri, canoeing and camping on one of the many beautiful rivers in the Ozarks.   We made the same trip when the young one was four years old… that was quite the adventure.  This time he was six, and probably had a lot more fun.  We were joined by the young pup this time however, and it too was quite the adventure!  A grand time however, with a canoe filled with camping gear, an excited boy and a water-loving Labrador.  My goal was to have fun… and not tip over!  The water is calm and peaceful in many places, and low enough that even the faster narrows were shallow and easy to navigate.  We took our time, fishing at most of the likely “holes” or pools.   We also swam and played in the fast water, and camped on a gravel bar one night. Canoeing is perhaps the quintessential Missouri experience in summer, with an abundance of rivers and choices for where to go. 

Young Boy, Yellow Labrador in Canoe on a Missouri River © Fox Haven Media 2007

The young boy and the Yellow Labrador enjoy paddling in the canoe.  Both have life jackets on, which many people thought funny for a Labrador Retriever.  But several stretches of the river had high bluffs on both sides… if you tip over you’re going to be swimming for a while.  Not having to worry about the dog allows you to focus on keeping people safe.  Besides… the pup really enjoyed having it on and swimming more easily! He did pretty well in the canoe, although 75 pounds of Lab walking from side to side can make the canoe a little tippy!




Boy, Girl and Yellow Labrador enjoying the river™s current

 For a little fun on a hot day, swimming in a cold river is a wonderful experience.  These rivers are spring fed and very refreshing, especially when it’s almost 100 degrees F outdoors… We found a nice fast water area where the kids could float down the river.  Life jackets are a must, and the adults waited to catch the kids as they came floating by.  The young boy met a young girl his age… they held hands with each other a dozen times or so.  The Lab was not to be outdone, he went down each time with them!



Dad and Yellow Lab going down the river

 ‘Ole Dad joined in the fun and went swimming with the boy, and the dog!  The Lab pup kept trying to swim upstream, which doesn’t work very well in fast water.  I finally managed to turn his head around and he enjoyed it much more.  It was funny… just like on the leash, he likes to “walk himself” by grabbing it in his mouth… so he found a strap on the life jacket to “swim himself” down the river.  What a funny dog… he was ready for more each time.





Young boy™s collection of neat stuff in the canoe

Naturally the young boy loves to collect things… here is his “river collection” gathered during one day.  He was cute… I didn’t really notice he was collecting things, but saw him sneak back to the canoe several times and found his treasure. The little stick bundle is a “boat” and of course he loves rocks and leaves.  We put them back in the river at the end of the trip, but he kept a few mussel shells, leaves and sticks to take home!





Dad and Son with Rainbow Trout

One of the pleasures of a canoe trip is fishing… and Rainbow Trout can be found in several areas.  It took some effort, but after waking up early on the river one morning I was fortunate to catch a few nice trout for lunch.  This one was almost 18 inches… a real beauty!  The young one helped me net the fish.  I’m not a purist by any means, and enjoy trying various methods with lures and “dough bait” on little hooks. On another trip I’ll try the fly rod… but this time we enjoyed trout for lunch and supper! 








He caught his own fish too!

The young one caught his own fish too!  We were talking and he said, “Do you think I’ll catch a fish?  I think I will!”… and the very next cast, he did!







After a long day on the river, the Yellow Lab was content to relax at the campsite… a gravel bar along the water.  He swam so much that he was really tired at the end of the day!  He was happy at that point to watch us playing and fishing in the river, but awoke the next morning ready for more. 

A very tired Yellow Labrador Retriever after a day on the river

It was a great experience… a few days of fun in the sun, and a trip to remember!

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