Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adopt a Rescue Labrador Retriever - or foster one!

Meet Jake - our current foster dogs. He is a purebred black Labrador Retriever who was saved from a kill-shelter in Kentucky. Jake is 6 years old and the poor guy was surrendered by his elderly owner who felt they could no longer take care of him. It's a shame, because that owner had obviously been doing a good job. Unlike most shelter dogs, Jake came to us in excellent shape. He is very fit, has clean teeth and ears and a shiny coat. Jake is a gentle sweetheart and I hate to think he might have been killed for lack of another home. He gets along well with our other dogs and cat. He is house trained and crate trained, and not at all destructive. Unfortunately, large black dogs are the least likely to be adopted, so we may be fostering Jake for some time to come. Jake is a neutered male, up to date on vaccinations and heartworm preventative, and lovable in many ways! We are volunteering for a Lab rescue group based in Rochester, NY called Rudy's Rescue for Labrador Retrievers. The area we cover is quite large, although we do require home checks for all potential foster homes and adopters. But we also work with other rescue groups who can do home checks for people out of our immediate area. If you are interested in helping these wonderful dogs in need, please contact Rudy's Rescue through our web site or any of the many other rescue groups working to save homeless dogs all across the country.

Another great way to help rescued dogs is with your donation or by shopping for Labrador Retriever t-shirts, home decorative items, art and gifts in the designated sections of my shop (including one for which 100% of profits are dedicated to LabMed) or visit Rudy's Rescue Store, which I maintain. I have also donated most of the designs. There are many ways dog lovers can help and every bit, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dog Show Trophies and Custom Gifts

I have been providing custom pieces for dog show trophies, judges gifts, and awards for about 20 years. This example is a tile-topped wood box created for the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac Bare Bones Specialty Show coming up in October. These boxes are provided by and tiles printed by my professional print-on-demand company. In this case I supply the custom artwork to be applied to a wide variety of products. To see more of the products and gift items available visit my OtterTail Art for Dog Lovers Shop.
Most of the Labrador and dog show trophies we have created over the years have been original pieces made by my husband and me - particularly our wood OtterTail Lab Art items. In addition to conformation trophies, we have made many obedience trophies, hunting test and field trial awards, club awards for outstanding members and versatile Labradors, and judges gifts. Of course, we are also happy to make special pieces for any Labrador lovers' Christmas, holiday or special occasion gifts. And, we're not just for Labs - we have designs to delight dog lovers of all types. Here is an example of a general dog design. Since this is also a trophy for the LRCP Bare Bones show (all-breed obedience is being offered), I created a unique design that features bones!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Training Tips for Labrador Retrievers and other dogs

For years I have been writing training tips in articles, letters and emails. I thought it was about time to make my efforts available to anyone who might just need the tips I have to offer, so here is my first entry. Please note, I am NOT soliciting questions - I volunteer tons of time to a Lab rescue organization adopters, fosters and friends. The tips shared here are free for the taking .. or not - as always, use your own best judgement regarding whether my tips fit your needs and never do anything with your dog that makes you uncomfortable. There are many ways to approach every training situation. Mainly, like my Labs themselves, I like to have fun! There will be no particular order to my training posts. Some will be for puppies and/or first time dog owners and some will be for experienced trainers, dog sport competitors, and rescue dog rehabilitaters. So here we go!

(Names will be changed to protect the guilty :-).)
Problem: Nora is ignoring the chewies and her designated stuff in favor of tearing up pillows, her crate bed, and other soft items. Sometimes she retrieves the items, sometimes she shreds them. We scold her for ripping the pillows, but she still does.

Tip: That's typical for a young Lab. They do have a high need for human attention. If chewing and playing with her own toys gets ignored, but tearing up pillows gets attention - even if negative - then pillows it will be. I suggest you play with the Nora's toys with her, and tell her how wonderful they are and make a fuss when she is doing the "right thing". If she only gets noticed when she is being naughty, then she will be naughty. And it all starts innocently - she rips a pillow as a puppy mistake and it gets lots of attention vs. she bites her bone and no one notices because she is being good and owners don't realize they need to "make note" that she IS being good. Labs are needy. It is important to make a little celebration about all of her good behaviors at first - not just ignore them. Labs love to be praised - that little effort you take to tell them when they are just being good, whether it's being quiet, chewing a bone, sleeping in their crate, whatever - that little positive reinforcement can make all the difference for a Lab - especially a puppy. It takes concerted effort and training for most people because it is so easy to ignore them when they are being good or think "phew, the Lab is finally quiet" and not make note of it to the Lab. But that is what they really need - that is what they thrive on. The "secret" to Labs is that they are needy - pay attention to the behaviors you want to see more of, because you will see more of the behaviors you pay attention to!

Enjoy your dog! Labs just want to have fun - Share the Spirit!

See some of my OtterTail Labs having fun and inspiring my OtterTail Labrador Retriever Art.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Labrador Retriever Christmas Card

Here is my first new design for 2007 dog holiday cards. This is a digital painting of a black Lab catching snowflakes on her tongue. There are 2 choices of verses inside. One says "Enjoy the Moment. Happy Holidays" and the other says "Share the Wonders of the Holiday Season". Many of my Labrador Christmas cards are now available to purchase individually or in sets of 10 or 20. They are professionally printed on your choice of matte or glossy stock. Please visit my OtterTail Art for Dog Lovers Shop greeting card section to see all of my available Lab and dog holiday designs. More new Lab Christmas cards will be added this season. The black Lab who modeled for this greeting card was my own OtterTail Silky Bonnie Blue. To see more of my Labrador models and dog art please visit OtterTail Lab Art.