A Day in the life of having Labradors

This is my journal on having my beloved labbies. I will be recording my thoughts and some of their antics here.

6th July 2014

My apologies there has been a massive gap in my journal!  We have been enjoying having Maggie, she is growing into a beautiful young dog.  Now just over a year old.  Maggie has now been hip and elbow scored, we are still waiting for the results.  Maggie has also had her BVA eye test, which she has passed. We will of course have to do the test again before we go through the process of having her mated as by that time this current BVA eye certificate will have expired.  Thankfully the vet has said we should have a good result on both hip and elbow scores.  We have quite a waiting list for one of Maggies puppies already but hope to have puppies with her spring 2015.

We have been doing a lot of agility with the dogs from the summer of last year.  Melvin was doing really well in agility, though he has taken a break from it due to me having a few horse related incidents resulting in broken ribs and a punctured lung, then a separate incident where I thought I had broken my foot and had a very bad sprained ankle.  Anyway, Maggie has been doing Agility since March 2014, she is flying!  We have been going fairly regularly once a week and we are due to be taking part in a display next weekend so we are all very excited about that.

We have of course been going to a variety of dog shows and showing off all the new collars I have been collecting over a period of time!  We have done well collecting rosettes.

Our training is on-going, I am loving our training sessions which sometimes we get to have a longer session than others but I always endeavour to do something every day with them.  I have been inspired by a display that I saw at Crufts this year.  The gundog display was amazing and made me realise the full potential of our dogs.

Charlie is getting a little older in the body – but his mind is still the same as he was at the age of four and is still hot for finding any morsel of food whilst out on a walk.  He is still healthy just a bit creaky and stiff.  I am trying a new tablet to support his needs.  It is stem cell nutrition.  I am very hopeful this will make a difference to him and give him a spring in his step.

Maggie seems to have inherited a few bad habits as she likes to find dead animals and bring them to us.  She loves digging.  Her relationship with Melvin is very close indeed.  They are like a pair of kids play fighting all the time.

31st March 2013

Molly’s puppies have arrived safely, we have seven little fluffballs to keep us busy!  they are developing well and I have to make a decision on which of three black girls I will be keeping!  It is very hard!

Beautiful Molly with her babies

Whilst being busy with the puppies we still take Molly for walks with the gang.  We have now successfully increased the length of our long distance recall to almost 300metres.  We have also changed the start of the stay, by putting them close together at the start,  walking away a few metres and calling them one at a time to spread them out.  Then walk down the hill.  They probably stay for approximately 15 minutes.  I am so proud of the woofs.  We are getting pretty well known at Jennycliffe now to the point our spectators are giving a running commentary to their friends!


24th February 2013

It has been a while since I have posted in my journal!  The litter of puppies from 2012 hav all gone to their new homes and I have been very lucky to have regular updates from the pup’s new owners and still updates from the litter of 2011!  So I am one happy girl!  Particularly when I get photos!!   (is this hint subtle enough?!!)

My dear Molly is now 6 weeks pregnant with her final litter.  She is looking very healthy and hopefully we will be given a good sized litter that Molly can cope very well with.  It is important to us that Molly remains in good health and gets back to the peak of her physical fitness as soon as she can after having her pups.

look hard and you will see the woofs!

In the above photo the woofs are doing a long sit stay.  Dave had put them in a stay whilst he spoke to one of our neighbours.  Dave went out of sight for about five mins and peeped round to check on them – they hadnt budged at all!  They probably stayed here for at least 10 minutes if not longer.

It is so gratifying to see the dogs doing what they are meant to be.  We have had a few issues with Archie inching forwards we are working hard to correct this.  So even if we have gone some distance from him, we DO go ALL the way back to put Archie back into position.  Otherwise it just makes it all the harder for next time as he will think he can get away with it!

look at them sitting so patiently!

Im very proud of my dogs and feel we have come such a long way with them!  We are mainly working with hand signals at a distance with good results.

24th April

Molly did very well in giving us 4 healthy puppies.  After having a slightly different labour due to her leg and not being able to nest properly.  The safe arrival of the puppies was a huge relief.  Though tinged with dissappointment at not having a little black girl to keep.  The puppies have been keeping us busy and I have been endeavouring to keep a good log for the prospective buyers.  The idea being I want them to feel involved as much as possible.

The adult dogs have enjoyed time with the puppies in the garden today and it is interesting to see they all hold a healthy respect for Molly and her pups!  Melvin showed a big interest in his little brothers and sister.

Today bought us a different little challenge with our grown up dogs!  On our walk at Radford park, we met up with two groups of school children.  Although our dogs are fine with children we had to have a respectful distance in case the children didnt like the dogs.  In effort to achieve this we did our usual long distance sit stay.  The result – after sitting for at least ten minutes (with a jack russell sniffing their bottoms too – how rude!!) we recalled them and they came DIRECTLY to us.  This of course is what we expected them to do but it was about using their training to our advantage as it meant we could get them past all the children without having to worry about the children getting upset.  It also enabled the teachers to see we had control.  We did pull quite a crowd whilst the dogs were sitting.  This of course does make you feel good when it all goes well!

In the middle of the sit stay – Archie did stand up, so we just pointed at him.  He sat.  This supports that they can do as they are told at quite a distance (dont ask I have no idea but it was big!) and the fact we can get them to sit without having to return to them, I feel IS something to be proud of.  When I talk to people about training their dogs, I hope that I convey how nice it is to be proud of your dog.  To actually put their skills into practice is not us showing off but did prevent them from going up and saying hello to approximately 40 children, which I feel may not have gone down well if this were the case.

I know I write about this time and time again – but to me, the fact they can do it reliably and we can use this to help us have a better time is what it is all about.  I simply love the fact our dogs are SO focussed on us when we do this sort of thing.  I just wish I had the camera with me as their faces are just FABULOUS – full of intent gazes at us.

1st March

Today has been full of doggy events.  Our most important event was Molly being scanned to see if she is pregnant.  I did strongly believe she was before the scan but it is always nice to know that everything is as it should be.  It is very exciting to see the little pups on the screen!

Today has proved that training hard definitely pays off.  There will always be unexpected occassions when you need your dog to do more than just behave itself.  The dog has to do exactley what you have asked without question.  Today was one of those days when I was walking a customers dog with my dogs (not Molly – so just four of my five dogs).  When the customers dog picked up the scent of something rather interesting at the cafe in the distance.  Needless to say this is an area I try to avoid with my dogs.  So in effort to maintain order (as opposed to mass destruction!)  I gathered my dogs up and got them into a sit stay.  I had to walk quite some distance while I retrieved the rogue dog whose head was in a bin.  I even took my time getting back to the dogs and they remained in situ for a good ten minutes.  I was really pleased with them.  I had many spectators being very impressed with them and saying so.  I allowed myself to take the compliment as I was so very proud of their achievement.

In a nutshell our hardwork of doing something “just for fun” turned out to really go in our favour today as they had to do it for real.  I simply could not allow the dogs to go scavenging as the bins at the cafe has allsort of food leftovers in (as well as chip oil…yuk). The dogs had no idea it was not for fun and did precisely as I needed them to.  Training in short doses, regularly definitely does pay off!  GOOD DOGGIES

So – congratulations to our mum to be Molly and praise to the other dogs for doing what they were supposed to.

We have had a few medical occurences which has required trips to the vets.

Melvin, last week had eaten something he shouldnt have (likely to be mouldy bread or mouldy cheese) he had a toxic reaction and ended up with the shakes.  So he was taken to the vets for blood tests, diazepam and to have a drip.  He has made a full recovery and is back to being “Tigger-ific”  bouncing around like a loon as is the norm for Melvin.

Molly sadly has incurred an injury, last sunday.  The poor girl is very lame.  We have taken her to the vet who initially could only suggest keeping her quiet and giving her painkillers.  We are trying to minimise her stress and trauma as much as possible to get her past the 29 days so that we are in a safer part of her pregnancy.  We can now get her xrayed tomorrow at 30 days pregnant).  Hopefully we will be clearer on what the problem is tomorrow.  I would be lieing if I said I was not worried as the timing of this is terrible for any dog, let alone a pregnant one!

14th February

We are having lots of fun with our woofs.  Stanley is proving to be a bit of a star when it concerns football.  Of course it is in his genes as his mother (Molly) is a bit of pro when it comes to playing with a football.

We have also spent some of the half term holiday playing tennis, we did start with all of the dogs outside with us, but we soon realised our competition was too high as we were finding it rather hard to get to the ball before the dogs did.  Molly is maintaining her track record of being 99% certain of getting the ball first.  Way to go Molly.

As per the norm, on a walk we are doing some games of scenting with a ball and long (really long) sit stays.  Watching people watching our dogs does feel pretty good!

I have been busy walking my customers dogs and I am so very pleased to report that one of my dogs who is a little bit crazy (but we all love him for it) has been doing very well.  Always been good at a recall I decided we needed him to come back and sit straightaway then followed with a stay.  He does instantly but the incredible improvement is that he can now stay for about a minute but not only that he is TUNED in to me!  I am so pleased!

6th February

Had a wonderful training session with my woofs today.  Generally playing ball, sending them in for retrieves that they really had to work for.  Today I was working on getting the dogs to sit without a verbal command.  They have been doing this with a hand signal and voice command.  So today I just pointed at them individually and they all sat nicely.  We are at the stage where they know they have to do it before the game continues.  They also seem to understand they must be in a line.  As quite regularly if I have to call on of the gang to the group (from being on the sidelines) that dog will sit with the others choosing his/her space along the line.  Today, Stanley – bless him even changed his place to ensure he was sitting in a perfect line with the others.  What a good boy.  This wasnt upon request so was quite nice to see him re-position himself for the line up.  I received a alot of comments on how good they were and what good control I had of the dogs.  Which of course is nice to hear but it is not without alot of hardwork and consistent training that we can feel proud of ourselves now.  One of the people I bumped in to today remarked that she had seen us at Wembury beach doing our long distance recall and how impressive it was to see five dogs sitting at one end of the beach as we leave the beach before recalling them.  I love days like today that go well and they all did their party tricks with ease!

The famous five doing a long distance sit staystay…




shall I call you yet?!!

Look at Melvin fly!

I am reading a gundog training book and I am really pleased that the training methods used in the book are the same as what we already do with our lot!

6th January 2012

Im very excited about our future plans to have another litter with Molly, we will be using Longcopse Bertie (a Field Trial Winner) a lovely dog who is worked and competes regularly.

We are very proud of Melvin.  His athletism leaving us gasping as he does put his “all” into leaping for the ball.  A competitive dog that tries his best EVERY time.

We have been putting our dogs to the test a little more by leaving them in a stay and just walking off out of sight.  We know they will stay and I can’t help but feel my chest swell up with pride when my dogs achieve our aims.  Particularly when Im approached by strangers when Im out and about to tell me they have seen my dogs doing this and how amazed they are!

During the festive period I asked my labby friends to set me a challenge.  I was given a couple of suggestions. The trick of “BANG, your dead” and another of “High Five”.  I have as yet not been all that succesful but WILL perservere!  As I “KNOW” my dogs can do it.  It is clearly ME who is the problem!  Stanley though does put his paws up when he thinks Im going to shoot him which is quite comical.

Today I took Molly and Melvin to have their BVA Eye test done.  They both passed.  I am in the middle of deciding about whether Melvin should be a stud dog as it is a decision that cannot be undertaken lightly.   So on the basis of not knowing how to proceed I am getting his tests done to help me make a decision.  It certainly will be a careful task ahead of us having an entire male dog in the house.  So watch this space as to whether our beautiful Melvin has a future in making delightful puppies or not (and maybe instead having the little boy op instead).

20th November 2011

I have been training customers dogs to do the scent retrieve of the ball.  Basically laying a trail in the undergrowth whilst the dogs stay sitting on the path.  Then they are sent in to find the ball.  Whilst spending time focussing on one of my customers dogs doing a sit tay, my dogs were beautifully behaved, remaining in a stay for 20 minutes without moving at all.

We had them playing on the beach.  Deciding we would see if we could leave them in a sit stay and US leave the beach.  They did us SO proud.  People were watching us thinking we were mad.  Quite possibly so!  But the dogs did stay until we had gone off the beach!  GO MARCHSTONE GANG!

I had another training session to focus on my one in five recall, attempting to re-jig it a little.

from this…

…. to this!

I am very proud of my dogs, we are training them using hand commands.  This enables us to give commands from a distance so if doing a long distance stay, should one stand up we can easily get them to sit again.

Here is a group photo of the gang taken this morning:

Charlie, Katherine, Molly, Archie, Melvin and Stanley

Today we have also taken lots of photos of them all leaping to get the ball, when we discovered that they all love to scramble a stone wall that was roughly seven foot high!  I love the fact my dogs continually amaze me.

Fun dogs when out, and chilled out when home – could I ask for more?!!

9th September 2011

Today is Melvin’s milestone day, reaching the special age of 6 months.  We took the gang for their usual walk and enjoyed them hoolying around.  Just to see if we *could* we got all our 5 dogs plus a customers dog to sit and stay.  Dave and I both walked away creating a wide circle, I walked clockwise around the dogs and Dave walked anti-clockwise.  It is smashing to see that all 6 dogs sat perfectly still despite having two distractions of us moving around them.  We had a spectator, a lady with a terrier (whose dog, I might add, was straining at the end of the lead!) so it is was even more satisfying to know that someone could see our dogs being perfectly well behaved.  I have to give “most” the credit to Dave (the dog whisperer!).  My dogs are tuned into Dave, I think his philosophy is to EXPECT the dogs to do what he wants them to do.  He has always liked to push the boundaries in how we achieve things.  Small steps definitely do lead to bigger achievements.  Well done doggies you did us all proud!

7th September

Time for more ramblings about the gang at Marchstone.  I have been focussing on ensuring that Melvin is on par for his obedience with the other dogs.  I have been spending time practising sit/stays at the start of the walk.  I walk to my walking area with all five dogs on the lead.  Getting them to sit, taking the leads off, the must then stay until I release them from the stay command.  I had been having a little stumbling block with Stanley who has always been keen to pre-empt the release.  So I have had to look at the gang and work at a different method.  Instead of leaving Stanley till last to be let off the lead, I have been putting him into a sit/stay, off lead after I have got Molly or Archie to sit.  This is working well, as I am then concentrating on Charlie, then Melvin but also enforcing Stanley’s stay and there is no sign of him trying to pre-empt me at all.  So I am now at a stage of having all five dogs sitting, looking at me.  All of them waiting to be released.  I feel confident that I can hold the stay for a good few minutes, I then release them to commence the walk.

I have also been working on some “quartering” this is something that gundogs do not do officially.  As I am not at all practised in the world of working gundogs I am going with techniques that my husband used on his police dogs for tracking.  I make the dogs sit and stay.  Walking away with my back to them they are eagerly watching my every move.  I lay a trail down by marking out where the ball “might be”, ie pretending to put the ball down at various intervals, put the ball in a bush and carry on pretending to put the ball down.  I then go back to the dogs and send them in to search.  It has been fantastic to see how quickly I have been able to get the dogs to remain in the sit stay, whilst I go off into the undergrowth for about five minutes, setting my trail.  The encouraging thing to see is how happy my dogs are looking for the ball.  The sheer joy in finding it and returning it to me.  Their tails swish rapidly when they have found it!    I feel very proud of how quickly they seem to pick things up which makes me wonder what I can get them doing next?!

31st July 2011

Well it has been a while since I have made an entry in my journal.  We had a wonderfully hectic time with the puppies, they are all settled in their new homes.  I have heard back from most of the owners.  My support for the puppies will be ongoing – for whatever the reason I hope the owners can feel they are welcome to ask me anything.

The Gang have now settled into their pecking order with our newest addition – Melvin being at the bottom of the pack.  Melvin is such a pleasure to own that we are considering him to be possibly one of the best dogs we have owned.  (sssh dont tell the others! wink!).

Melvin has formed a fabulous bond with his brother, Stanley.  We have moments of complete madness when the two of them charge around like loonies.  It brings us enormous pleasure to see them getting up to allsorts of antics and I think it is relatively safe to say that “Melvin” has landed.  His little paws are well and truly in our hearts.  (though he had me won over within a day or two of his birth if truth be known!).  Melvin is such a calm pup.  I have said it repeatedly throughout my posts Im sure, but he really is simply a steadfast and bombproof boy.  He is taking after his father Booza – which is why I am keen to attempt a go at gundog training.  Something I need educating on but hope to at least enjoy the training.  Out of all five dogs Melvin is the only dog I have owned, who brings me birds.   He seeks them out and holds them gently.  (they are already dead birds).

The training in the pack has now resumed, we had been a little lax due to the pups but we are back to ensuring our dogs all do as they should.  A well behaved dog is one that must be enjoyed without fear or frustration of what they might get up to.  So to have five dogs it is even more crucial to have control – recall being important but also a sit/stay to keep order, so that it doesnt appear chaotic when leaving the house or getting the dogs into or out of the car.

Blackberry season is here and all five dogs are getting their “five-a-day” and vitamin c boost.  It amazes me that they enjoy the berries as much as they do!

So now I am officially back to owning five dogs – is it something that I would still want to be doing?  The answer to this question has to be met with a resounding YES.  My dogs all have different characters I couldnt be without any of them – though of course the issue of whether we have enough sofas might be a different equation to consider!

(Im still on the lookout for a stripey dog and desire another black bitch so whether our numbers increase to 6 or 7 remains to be seen!).

23rd April

Now the lovely weather is here we are seeing a very happy Charlie.  We think that Charlie suffers from SAD, as soon as the sunshine comes he is sitting in the sun for as long as he can and starts behaving like a little puppy again, frolicking about.  It is a joy to see him being happy as in thw winter, darker months he is a little bit grumpy and turns into a bit of an old man.  On our walk yesterday he was rolling in the grass happy as a pig in muck!  He found “half a tree” and played tug of war with Stanley!

The pups are adoreable, soon to be leaving the nest.  I will find it hard to see them go but I will have to focus on the positives of being able to concentrate on Melvin.  The puppies have just had a mad half hour in the garden and are now asleep.  (6 of them on my lap yay!!!!)

Me wtih my boy Melvin

12th April 2011

The puppies are now five weeks old.  It is hard to even contemplate that they will be going in only three weeks time.  It has gone so quickly.  The puppies have achieved so much since my last entry.  Toilet training has gone really well. We started to wean them at the age of three weeks on to the puppy food (soaked initially into porridge consistency).  Now here we are about to do the second worming – if only we didnt have to!

The puppies are vibrant and full of life, these little ones will definitely inject energy through their little paws into their new homes.

Today the puppies were bold enough to go up to the rabbit to sniff him.  The rabbit wasnt exactley enthralled at the idea of being taken out by 8 puppies.  As though the rabbit is aware their breeding means they will enjoy picking up a dead bunny…ho hum.

Stanley is still a little peeved at no longer being the baby of the gang.  Im sure he will come round.  He is making every opportunity of nicking a ball when he thinks he can get away with it.

1st April 2011

The puppies are now three weeks old and thriving.  We are having the puppies chase about in the living room for playtime antics, during which time Archie has taken on the role of Step-Dad.  He seems to have mothering instincts as he wants to lick them, but does get a little scared if they start looking to him for milk.  Stanley is still very unsure of them.  He will stay in the room with them and knows he shouldnt grumble them (but he really doesnt like them walking towards him).  Charlie stays out of the way altogether.  Im sure he will be relieved when things return to normal.  Though we havent told Charlie of our plans in keeping one!  Im very happy with our litter they are a smashing bunch of mischievious puppies and the characters are just starting to form now.  We have some sharp cookies amongst them.

We have been continuing training with our adult dogs whilst on walks, as it is so important to maintain continuity.  I think there is a competitive streak between my husband and myself as he is now determined to prove what he can make the dogs do (heh! heh!).  Anything you can do… I WILL do better!!   Full of fun and capers here at “Marchstone Manor” !!

10th March 2011

What the boys thinks of the puppies?  It is interesting to see that Archie is allowed to be in the room with the pups, but poor Stanley and Charlie cant come anywhere near as Molly is very maternal and growls if they glance in her direction!  Stanley was hiding in the bedroom upstairs and wouldnt come downstairs, even when the dogs food was being prepared.  We heard a rather disgruntled Stanley growling and whining at the idea of missing out on food but he didnt dare come downstairs in case Molly growled at him.  Poor lad.

Molly’s Puppies – 9th March 2011

What a night.  It all started with Molly puffing and panting at 9pm, with an awful lot of nesting.  I kept an eye on her for the night wondering if this really was it.  At 2.12am I suddenly heard a puppy being born and this little yellow boy pup was on the floor in its sac.  I broke the sac for Molly and she looked a little shocked but got to work licking her baby straightaway.  We put Molly in her whelping box whilst she nursed her newborn.  For the next two hours Molly was calm with periodic episodes of panting and the odd contraction.  We decided to help things along by taking Molly for a walk, as I stepped outside the front door Molly strained and I held my hands out ready to receive the puppy (4.12am black boy).  It was amazing to feel this hot puppy slide into my hands and whilst I was trying to get the puppy sorted out, we realised that the placenta was still inside and Molly wouldnt walk back inside.  Luckily this resolved itself quite quickly and Molly was fine to continue back indoors.  After this we had two further puppies in quick succession. 4.18am yellow girl and 4.25 yellow girl.  Everything was going really well.  Then at 4.53 we had a yellow boy who had a retained placenta.  At this time my little girl was amazing.  I asked her to fetch me the forceps and the umbilical clamps, then needing a flannel.  She did this all very promptly. Katherine was very mature about all the mess and just did as she was asked.  I am very proud of her.  Anytime I needed anything Katherine was very prompt at getting it for me.   At 5.12am we had another yellow girl  and then at 6.12am a black boy who was born hindfeet first.  Katherine was on puppy duty for the last puppy and watched the black girl being born!

Molly has eaten most of the placentas.  I have also given her natural yoghurt with glucose mixed in.  For additional strength I have given her some nutriplus gel to aid with nutrition.

Im utterly shattered and have cried with sheer relief at how beautiful the puppies are and how well Molly has done.  As experiences go this just cannot be rated as a simple “great” or “fabulous” experience.  As it is so much more than that, I can not really put into words how wonderful it is to see the puppies arrive and the relief at seeing your precious dog being an excellent Mother.  I am relieved to have such well developed puppies and a healthy Molly.  I am looking forward to seeing the puppies grow and the next 8 weeks are going to be an amazing experience.  It will fly by but I will treasure every moment!  I hope you get to enjoy sharing the experience with me.


17th February 2011

Here is a video clip of my dogs doing a 1 in 4 recall.  It has taken alot of patience to get them this far.  Though I need to work on polishing the recall with them sitting at the end!


12th February 2011

My idea of a great day is spending it with my dogs on a walk making the most of the great outdoors!  To me the pleasure in owning dogs is very much enhanced by having well behaved dogs.

I have been teaching our four Labradors to sit stay together with the view of teaching each dog to come back to me, one dog at a time. To me this seemed unachievable as when I first attempted it, it was rather chaotic. As it would seem the dogs would sit stay really well but calling one dog would result in all of them come charging towards me! I have put time and effort into training the dogs and constantly addressing my technique! I have listened to a variety of ideas to see what suited me as their handler, taking into account their characters and individual needs. Training styles should not be set in stone but I think every individual has to be open to trying different ways with their dogs. What works for one might not necessarily work for another. I still have work to do with my dogs and the training will be ongoing with the aim of improving them and myself.

At the moment they are coming to the command of their name whilst the others wait for their individual recall with about 90% success rate. As a means of keeping things interesting for both the dogs and myself, I have now progressed the recall process so the dogs are walking to heel, I then make individual dogs to “sit stay” as I walk in a formation of a square. Resulting in them sit, staying at a distance from me.

Small accomplishments can lead to greater achievements. Believing in yourself and what your dog is capable of, is half the battle to gaining good results from your dog.

I am very proud of how my dogs are progressing. Seeing what I have achieved in such a short amount of time is inspiring to keep at it. Training must always be fun and I am getting more and more out of my dogs than I ever have before.

The ingredients to a good training session:-

  • A good bond between owner and dog.
  • Keen interest from the dog directed to the owner.
  • Patience. If a training session goes wrong – don’t lose your patience just abandon the training session and start again another day!
  • Keep it fun. Half way through the session, play ball or change tact and start another method before the dogs get bored!

I do firmly believe you CAN teach an old dog new tricks – so give it a go!  You will be pleasantly surprised at how clever your dog is!