Now, THAT’S what I call a stick! The Labrador Retriever
Tags: 'PLEASE DO NOT FEED THIS DOG!', 19th century, a huge stick, active gundogs, aid in swimming, avoid overfeeding, Black Labrador, bodies of water, bracken, bracken-lined woodland path, bred for the show ring, broad tail, Canada, Canadian, Canadian Maritime Provinces, canine companions, Chocolate Labrador, competitive field trials, Connecticut, consume as much food as is given to them, Derbyshire, desire to please, devoted, dogs, dogs bred for field sports, energetic dog, England, extremely good fun, family dog, fishing nets, gained so much weight, general retriever, Great Britain, guide dog, gundog, in the field, Labrador, Labrador bitch, Labrador Retriever, local homes, longer-legged, Longshaw Estate, love of life, loyal, Maritime Provinces, muscles ripple, Newfoundland, Peak District, Peak District National Park, printed notice, regular daily exercise, retriever, retrieving 'lures', retrieving game, running jumps into water, scraps, seeing eye dog, shiny coat, show ring, small tent pole, St. John's Water Dog, tail was wagging, throw it for him, trained to do difficult tasks, U.K., U.S.A., webbing between each toe, woodland path, Yellow Labrador
Some dogs radiate energy and a love of life. The Labrador Retriever is just such a breed. It’s origins lie in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, and to be sure, it has always loved the water. It comes in three colours – Black, Yellow and Chocolate. To each his own, but I really love the Black Lab! Although it’s roots lie in Newfoundland (not Labrador), and it was known as the St. John’s Water Dog in the 19th century, it wasn’t until the breed reached England that it began to be used predominately in the field as a gundog, particularly in retrieving game from bodies of water. This fitted in well with the traditional use of the St. John’s Water Dog as a general retriever, especially of fishing nets which had drifted.
You can see in the above photograph the webbing between each toe, and the strong, broad tail, both of which aid in swimming. Given these attributes, and its general desire to please at all costs, it is hardly surprising that the Labrador excels at competitive field trials, retrieving ‘lures’ and taking massive running jumps into water to try to catch up with a thrown object. Inevitably, this has meant that the dogs bred for field sports have diverged somewhat from those bred for the show ring; in many cases the active gundogs are longer-legged and weigh more than their show counterparts.
Here we can see a relatively young Black Labrador in fine condition. His muscles rippled underneath his shiny coat, and his tail was wagging as he trotted towards me carrying a huge stick – it could easily have been used as a small tent pole! He offered me the branch, obviously wanting me to throw it for him, but I suggested that his owners (following behind their energetic dog) might care to do that, instead! The Lab continued his walk along the bracken-lined woodland path, which was on the Longshaw Estate in the Peak District of Derbyshire, feeling very proud of his ‘stick’.
Please remember that all Labs will need regular daily exercise (the more the better), and try to avoid overfeeding, for a Lab will consume as much food as is given to it. I knew of one delightful Labrador bitch in Connecticut, who established a ‘circuit’ of a number of local homes, where she appeared just as dinner was coming to a close. She was fed so many scraps, and gained so much weight, that eventually she arrived wearing a printed notice around her neck which read, ‘PLEASE DO NOT FEED THIS DOG!’
Labs, whatever their colour, are loyal, devoted, and extremely good fun. A true family dog, yet able to be trained to do difficult tasks (‘guide dog’ in the U.K., ‘seeing eye dog’ in the U.S.A., for example). I think that the combination of their many fine qualities, including their wonderful nature, make them one of the best all-round canine companions that anyone could wish for.