Friday, January 29, 2010

Labrador Retriever Remains Most Popular Dog Breed

The numbers are out and Labrador Retrievers are the AKC's most popular dog breed for the 19th year in a row! That always makes me sad. Of course I think Labs are the most wonderful dogs on the planet, but AKC popularity means many Lab were bred and, unfortunately, many Lab puppies were born in less than optimal conditions. The best way to combat this problem is to buy your Lab puppy from a truly reputable breeder. How do you know? For starters, the best breeders LOVE their dogs. They are not looked upon as livestock or "a means to an end" or simply a money making device. Be an educated shopper. Contact multiple breeders so you have some reference for comparison. Ask lots of questions and - if the breeder cares about their dogs - expect to be asked a lot of questions as well. There are many places online to find out what to ask and understand. Click this link for one list provided by the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac. Why does buying from a reputable breeder help? Good breeders do not produce many puppies each year and they will take their puppies back anytime in their lives if the need arises. These dogs rarely end up in shelters or rescues. They also require spaying or neutering and may sell dogs on limited registration. Supporting the good breeders means less demand for dogs from bad breeders. If there is no mass demand they will no longer waste their efforts on creating "supply".

Another way to bring a Lab into your life is through a rescue organization or directly from a shelter. Adopting such a dog will not help stop the irresponsible breeders, but it can save a deserving soul. Usually you will see Lab mixes rather than purebreds and the purebreds you do find may have been poorly bred. These can all still be wonderful dogs and certainly need and deserve good homes. Be aware that you may adopt a dog with health and/or temperament problems who will need rehabilitation. Your "good deed" is not done the day you bring him home -- rescuing your dog has just begun. There are many rescue group around the country, some taking a variety of breeds and mixes and others specializing. I volunteer for Rudy's Rescue for Labradors and occasionally other groups. Many rescue volunteers are just as protective about where their dogs end up as reputable breeders are, so expect a review process from them as well.

All dogs deserve a good home. I have fostered and directly rescued many. I believe the best thing I can do for the future of the breed I love is to support those breeders who truly care and I look forward to the continued honor of sharing my life with these beautiful, well-bred creatures.

(Pictured: Tegan - a wonderful yellow girl of my OtterTail line born in 1988. Incredibly smart and born to be Queen.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Black Lab Makes Fun Portrait Painting

Here is my latest portrait painting. This smiling black Labrador is living the good life now. A friend of his current owner found him on the side of the road, thin and missing patches of hair. Look at him now - glowing with good health and spreading happiness wherever he goes. It was fun to receive a variety of photos of him from which to choose one for this painting. His joie de vivre was evident in every one of them. I hope you can feel it in this portrait too!

The background is much richer and darker in real life. Not sure why my camera didn't pick it up this time. The reference photo was of this sweet dog trotting down his dock to the water and this painting is traveling to Florida, so I wanted to capture a bit of the tropical colors surrounding his happy life. Will have to have a discussion with my camera.

For information on commissioning your own custom dog portrait painting visit my website at or contact me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dog Gifts, Toys, and Holiday Fun

I hope everyone has had happy and fun holidays! We did and here is a picture with some of the proof. I always get a kick out of how the dogs can find simple pleasures in little things - something I emulate in my own life. Every year I wrap nylabones and other toys for my dogs to open on Christmas morning. This year included 2 boxes with stuffed animals for Tallulah and Nissa who are particularly fond of their stuffed buddies. As you can see, the boxes and wrappings prove to be more fun than the actual presents in the heat of the moment (the 2 new animals from that box thrown aside under the footstool). I always let the dogs make a big mess with wrapping paper and cardboard on Christmas morning. Once they get in the mode they want to help us open every gift, so it's good to have their packages on hand! Twelve year old Eponine is watching from the couch, but she already opened one package herself. Rescue dog Butch couldn't quite believe it, but he got in on the package opening and ripping himself this year (his 2nd Christmas with us). My dogs are so good about not touching anything that isn't theirs all the rest of the year, I like to give them freedom for "the big rip". There's a lot of free fun to be found in an empty cardboard box!

Now we are setting up for a great 2010 - hard to believe it's a new decade already. All of us wish all of you the happiest possible year full of fun, joy in simple pleasures and love every day. Best wishes for a wonderful new year!