Chocolate Clan Labradors

To know one is to love one


Posted by Pat on June 17, 2013 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Well the disappointing end of the 2013 batch of puppies was accompanied by an unexpected incident.  In March we were contacted by the Duran's about Grace, Maggie's sister.  It appeared that Grace was developing juvenile arthritis and would require expensive surgeries or euthanasia.  While we have a refund policy for genetic disorders that we have tested for and feel our girls and studs are free from, juvenile arthritis was a new one for us.  Sure, we know that Labrador Retrieivers are prone to senior arthritis. Koko has suffered for years from senior arthritis.  And that is why we have fed her a good quality food and supplemented with glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). And that is why we are feeding the other girls a good quality food with added glucosamine and supplements.

So I offered to refund the Purchase price to the Durans for Grace's continued care.  However, they did not want to keep her.  When they brought back to us, she had a pronounced limp and you could see she was in pain.  When I took her for a walk that first day, I was not sure what to do with her.  And then I read the vet notes that the Durans' had brought with them.  Grace was suffering from suspected torn ACLs.  Now this is a problem that atheletic dogs suffer from. And they need to be repaired surgically which can cost from two to five thousand dollars per knee (stiffle). For a returned dog, that we had no attachment to, looking at $10,000 was not something I wanted to consider.  Especially as we had just spent $3,000 on a breeding that did not take.

What to do about Grace?  The thing about the internet is that there is a lot of available information.  Some good, some bad, some right, and a lot of wrong stuff.  All I knew was that we needed to stop playing fetch with her.  She definitely is obsessed with toss.  And then we started to give her supplements. And we have put her on a joint food.  And we took her to the vet to get her shots all up to date.  We had no indication from the Durans that since her shots at three months and  her spay at six months that Grace had any preventative treatments. We had no indication  that Grace understood any of the basic commands of sit, stay, come and down.

Rehabilitating Grace's stiffles is how we are proceeding. She is too nice a dog to euthanize without at least trying to restore her to health although we must acknowledge that we may never afford surgical repair. We have the challenge of training an older dog. Grace is too intelligent not to learn quickly, but we can have to proceed slowly as we do not want to further damage her knees. Patience is a virtue with Grace.

We send out a application form for all potential Labrador owners.  We converse by e-mail and phone.  We ask people to drop by for a visit or two.  If people have previous dog experience, a large yard and seem committed to meeting the needs of the Labrador Retriever, we think they will be good homes. In Grace's case, despite the Durans being good people, they were not good Labrador Retriever people.  At least not for the high drive of our American type labs.  It is disappointing to learn that despite these attempts at good placement, we failed. 

Endings and Beginnings

Posted by Pat on January 26, 2013 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, hard to believe it has been several months since Koko had her third operation for Mast cell cancer.  She is doing great for a Labrador who is almost 14 years old.  Oh, I know she is hard of hearing and cannot see very well anymore.  But her tail still goes up when she goes on walks.

Dave is taking Koko for her walks more often.  He just takes her around the block on leash, while I take Maggie and Kassey on long, off-leash walks.  Maggie is always wanting to play, and she tends to plow over anything in her way.  Kassey can still take it, but it is hard for Koko to get back up once Maggie blows her over.  And the snow is fairly deep in spots, and it is hard for Koko to leap through it like a deer.

Koko and Maggie went into the vet to give blood and start the genetic tests for breeding purposes.  I took Koko in as the OFA has a blood bank for canine research.  If there is anything in Koko's blood that helps researchers find a cure for Mast Cell cancer, that would be great.  As for Maggie, so far she has come back normal for Canine Narcolepsy.  We are still waiting for her CNM and EIC test results. 

And for Kassey we are trying to put a little weight on her prior to breeding.  She is in great shape for an eight year old.  Bustin' is off to South Carolina for some training, but Blindfaith's will have him back in time to get some semen sent to Canada.  We are starting to get excited about our next litter.

Old Age

Posted by Pat on November 27, 2012 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The average life expectancy of a Labrador Retriever is 12 yrs.  At least that was the number I came up with a few years ago when we were trying to decide on further surgery for Koko.  The average life expectancy for dogs over all breeds (purebred or not) is 13 yrs.  So our Koko has made it over the life expectancy for her breed and is now at the life expectancy for all dogs.  Given that the bigger the dog, the shorter the life expectancy, I guess we can consider Koko to have had a good long life.

But last week when we noticed that the lump on her side was back, it was hard to not do something about it.  So once again Koko has gone off to the vet for a check-up.   And once again it looks like she has cancer.  We will get a needle aspiration done tomorrow and have it sent off to the lab for confirmation.  And this time what will we do? She has actually gained weight this fall, and we are thinking "diet".  She still loves to go for walks.  She still loves to be part of our family. But.....

In the past year Koko's hearing has diminished, so she is often startled.  She has pacing times, around and around the house without seeming to have a goal.  Sometimes as she is going up the stairs her back end just gives out on her.  Sometimes she poops in the house.  She has had that session for the past few summers with allergies (loss of hair, loss of weight, vomiting and so forth).  She has a muzzle infection that comes and goes (not sure why but we put hot compresses on it for a few days, and it does seem to drain away).  

Senility, arthritis, and old age.  We just keep hoping she will fall asleep some day and not wake up.  But even though we hope that, I know it will not be any easier saying goodbye to her.

So next week I have booked family portraits for our canine family.......

The Test results

Posted by Pat on October 31, 2012 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Dr. Nowle called on Monday with Koko's test results.  The lump on her side was indeed a Mast cell tumour (her third such cancer growth).  This time it graded as a 2 (scale of 1-3), a little higher than we had hoped but not at the final stage.  The margins were narrow but there were margins, so this lump was totally removed.

Koko is looking great.  Her stitches come out at the end of the week.  The incision is healing nicely.  It has not ruptured which is great, as Maggie was so excited to have her back on walks, she kept plowing her over. And that is why we went ahead with another surgery.  To keep that spring in her walk for as long as we can.

The Dilemma

Posted by Pat on October 21, 2012 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Well Koko went for her bi-annual wellness visit the week before last.  She had a great check-up for a 13.5 yr old Lab. Dr. Cindy thought she was looking much better than in the spring, as she has put on some weight and has had a good summer of going for walks. 

However, she has a few bumps and lumps.  So Dr. Cindy did a needle aspiration on two of them.  As in all things, the one we were most worried about under her arm pit, turned out to be a lipoma (fat lump).  The one on her side has turned out to be a mast cell tumor.  This is the third time Koko has had this type of skin cancer, and both other times we had them removed. 

Our Dilemma now is whether to put Koko through another surgery to remove the one she has now.  Because of its location and Koko's benign personality at having things done to her (needle biopsy's done on the examining table with just me holding her), Dr. Cindy thinks she can excised this lump with just local anesthetic. I guess if we were to consider the cost (about $600) one would wonder why we would even be considering the operation.  When we consider her age, 13.5 yrs, she is well over the average lifespan of 12 yrs for a lab.  Even with surgery, really how much time does she have left with us?

Well we have decided to go ahead, but we are still wondering if it is the right decision.  Let's hope it all goes well.


Posted by Pat on October 8, 2012 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Once in awhile, I need to take time to say some really positive things about our girls.  This Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks that all three are doing well. 

We got Koko through the summer by giving her two benadryl in the morning, and another two in the evening.  This dosage has kept her summer-time allergic reaction to a minimum.  She has lost most of her hair again this summer.  But no infections.  And no pancreatitis.  All and all she has had a great 14th summer.

Kassey is finally growing some hair on her tail.  She still looks like a pointer.  And it is amazing how strong the tail she has remaining is.  She had absolutely no trouble with swimming this summer.  Still as game as ever to go for walks and go for ball throwing in the lake.

Maggie is settling down in her age one year.  She loves to point.  When we are at the lake, she will point ducks, sticks, anything that is on the water.  If I let her, she will go out to try and retrieve them, but so far has only brought back the sticks. She loves water even more than Kassey.  Or perhaps it is just an age thing, as Kassey ages she is getting more like Koko.  This summer Koko found bliss by going out on the pontoon boat.  She can be on the water, but does not have to be in it.  With no hair, and a body full of arthritis being wet is no longer for her.

Another disaster!

Posted by Pat on April 14, 2012 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

OH NO, not another accident.  While we were out on Thursday, April 12, Kassey got her tail stuck in the screen door. (She and Maggie managed to break the screen on Dave's office door, so instead of fixing it, we have let it stay as an unofficial dog door.  Over the winter it worked great, as when Maggie and Kassey got cold they just jumped in to be with Dave. However, Maggie also learned as she has grown bigger that if she jumps just right on the door from the inside she can open it up. We figure that poor Kassey was just not fast enough to get through the door before it closed on her tail.)  And then when Dave and Sarah came home she had to go and greet them at the gate, and that is when she janked the last two inches of her tail off!  She continued to wag it so there was blood spray everywhere.  Dave and Sarah took her to the vet's right away, and she got blood all over the inside of Dave's car, and all over the inside of the vet's office.  And then they had to amputate another couple inches off to get to solid tail material.  POOR KASSEY.


Posted by Pat on February 1, 2012 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Okay I admit it.  I knew that I had not selected the sweetest puppy from our clan, Pink, because we already had Kassey, and she is just about as sweet a girl as anyone could hope for.  I waffled on the most dominant girl, Red,  as we already had one of those in Koko.  So, I thought we would select one of the middle of the pack girls, and when Purple girl was selected by one of our families that left us with Magenta.  SO WHY IS SHE SO CRAZY? Could it be because she got dropped on her head at six weeks?


This Girl can jump over tall buildings!  She can race circles around gazelles!  She can get to anything thrown first, but why does she drop it so her mom has to carry it back? She has a wonky ear!  Her eyes are staying golden and not turning brown!  She doesn't seem to be putting any weight on and she has been dewormed every month at least once!  AND why does she eat poop?


Nothing in our prior experience with Labrador Retrievers has quite prepared us for MAGGIE! 




Fall 2011

Posted by Pat on December 27, 2011 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

What a busy fall we have had.  Sarah and I completed introductory flyball with Maggie and Kassey.  Sarah and Maggie are naturals at that sport, however Kassey and I don't have the legs for it.


Then Sarah and Maggie enrolled in canine 4H.  This club is new to the Lacombe area, so it has been a pretty busy fall having two or three 4H events each month.

I will post some pictures of our fall, so you can see how our clan is doing.  As well I have finally updated the rest of the litter's photos, thanks to their families.

Thanksgiving 2011

Posted by Pat on October 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Well we have had quite a couple of weeks with our new and old clan members.  Maggie has finished her puppy classes and is now roaring to success in her "Fly-Ball" classes.  This girl can run!

The week before last I took Koko into the vet as Koko was not eating. Dr. Cindy said to give her one more try on liquid food.  Koko was then lapping up her expensive Z/D wet dog food, that was now further watered down in the blender.  But then this past week she declined further (vomiting and pooing in the house) and would not even eat the wet pureed food.  Our whole human family took her to the vet.  And Dr. Cindy said, "Oh she has old dog disease".  What?  Sure enough this causes nausea and loss of coordination.  (Oh that was why she was stumbling around.  It was not a stroke.)  Also known as idiopathic vestibular disease, it can have acute onset and resolve itself in 7 to 14 days.  And for the nausea, we give her "Gravol". Our old girl who is now down to about 55 lb and looks skinnier than Kassey, can eat all she wants (but nothing fatty as she is now prone to pancreatitis).


AND now we can add another disease onto "Did you know that dog's can get?"  ONCE again we are thankful that we have a vet named Dr. Cindy Nowle who is willing to suggest alternative treatments, and recognize "new" issues.  So although it is chilly out we will take a few more walks to celebrate our Chocolate Clan.