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.