If you follow our Facebook page, you already know that we are celebrating Riley's new Obedience Title. We participated in the Columbus All-Breed Training Club's Winter Obedience & Rally Trials this past weekend and earned our third leg for Beginning Novice. We are very excited about this accomplishment and look forward to moving onto the next level in our training.
The Labrador Retriever is a breed of many talents. Not only are they extremely accomplished at being a champion couch potato, they are also just as brilliant in field work, as well as in the competition ring. While they make wonderful companions, their intelligence and eagerness to please makes them remarkably trainable and excellent candidates for the world of AKC Companion Events.
Who Can Participate?
The AKC Companion Events consist of four different specialty areas: Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility. Anyone of any age can participate in these events as long as their dog is either registered with the AKC, enrolled in the AKC Canine Partners Program (registration for mixed-breed dogs),enrolled in the PAL Program (Purebred Alternative Listing), or a member of a FSS recorded breed (Foundation Stock Service).
How Do We Prepare?
Competing in these companion events offer more than an opportunity to show off your dog's athleticism and intellect. The time spent training with your dog creates an unbreakable bond and many hours of fun for both of you. In order to prepare for these events, the first step is to find a local dog-training club that offers classes that will help you and your dog develop the skills and understanding necessary to be successful. Visit www.akc.org to find a training club near you.
What are the Companion Events?
As noted above, the AKC Companion Events consist of four specialty areas: Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility. Here is a brief description of each:
To gather more detailed information about about each of these and how to participate in an AKC Companion Event please visit www.akc.org/events.
Whether a title is your goal, or you are simply looking to provide an additional outlet for your dog to learn knew skills, participating in training classes and companion events will be a rewarding experience. It is also another way for you to develop and nourish the everlasting bond between you and your dog.
Even though it’s still February, we cannot help but feel a bit of spring fever here at the farm. With temperatures in the 60’s and spring less than 30 days away, our energy is centered on waking up from winter’s hibernation. Just this past weekend we were out tilling the garden, cleaning out all the perennial flower beds, and pruning back all the lifeless debris in order to make room for the new spring growth.
If you have been to Ashling Place Farm, you know that in addition to keeping ourselves busy with raising Labrador Retrievers, we also maintain a fairly large garden that not only feeds our family and many of our friends, but also fills our roadside market stand. Since we grow many of our garden vegetables from seed, we have been sorting through all the various seed catalogues since January, carefully selecting the varieties that we hope will bless us with a bountiful harvest in the coming season.
Part of our planning process for deciding what to grow includes choosing vegetables that also serve as healthy treats for our dogs. Here is a list of the "dog-approved" fruits and vegetables that we love to grow for our canine kids:
Apples: High in fiber and a great source of Vitamins A and C, apples are a healthy treat for your canine companion. Remember to remove the core and seeds as these are not safe for your dog to eat.
Blueberries: Not only are blueberries considered a superfood for humans, but they provide just as many health benefits to our furry canine friends. Packed with antioxidants and fiber, they can be a healthy, low-fat replacement for the usual calorie dense training treats.
Carrots: Low in calories, yet high in fiber and Vitamin A. An added bonus is that the dogs love the crunchy texture that is also excellent for their gums and teeth.
Cucumbers: Low in calories, but loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1. They also contain essential nutrients such as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin.
Celery: Another crunchy treat that dogs love that comes packed with heart healthy vitamins like A, B, and C.
Pumpkin: High in fiber, pumpkin is not only good for our dogs’ digestive systems, but it has also been shown to be beneficial for dogs that suffer from urinary incontinence and can even help with weight management
Strawberries: These are a favorite summer snack for our girls…they steel them off the plants just as the fruit becomes ripe enough to pick! Strawberries are rich in fiber and vitamin C, but be cautious of how much you allow your dog to have as they also contain a bit of sugar.
Sweet Potatoes: Packed with nutrients, including fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins B-6 and C, they make an excellent treat for your dog as long as they are served washed, peeled, and cooked. Do not serve your furry friend potatoes that have been doctored with seasonings or sugars.
Not all vegetables are safe for our fur-kids, so be sure to do your research and check with your veterinarian before slipping them a treat from your garden. However, replacing your dog’s dense, high-fat processed treats with a few of these healthy fruits and vegetables could be one of the best things you can do for your pet’s health.
Like humans, our canine companions are equally at risk for inheriting a wide range of diseases and genetic disorders and the Labrador Retriever is no exception. While we cannot control everything in nature, it is the goal of every responsible breeder to take steps to eliminate these diseases. The first step in this process includes completing regular health screenings and genetic testing to ensure that they are not passing on diseases to future generations.
The following list describes the genetic diseases noted to be the most inheritable amongst the Labrador Retriever breed:
Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is when the hip joints fail to develop normally, which results in a gradual deterioration and can, in severe cases, lead to the loss of function in the hip joints. It is an inherited disorder commonly seen in larger breeds, including the Labrador Retriever. While it is a genetic disorder, it can be influenced by environmental factors including obesity, exercise, and nutrition. Radiographs are used to screen for this disorder and a grade of Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Mild, Moderate, and Severe are assigned by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
Elbow Dysplasia: An inherited disease of the elbow which may not be recognized for a long period of time. Symptoms of Elbow Dysplasia include lameness, changes in the gait, and decreased range of motion in the elbow. While genetic, environmental factors including weight gain and level of exercise can influence its progression. Radiographs are used to screen for this disorder and are noted as either Normal or assigned a grade of I, II, III when diagnosed as abnormal Elbow Dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): PRA is a genetic disorder that causes cells in the retina to degenerate and eventually die over time. In most cases, this will cause the dog to go blind as there is no treatment or cure for affected dogs. Signs typically can be recognized in early adolescence. There is a genetic test that is available for the Labrador Retriever, which should be completed before breeding, to ensure the disorder is not passed on to future generations. It is recommended that an annual CERF eye exam be conducted to ensure that any breeding Labradors remain clear of this disease, along with other retinal diseases.
CNM (Centronuclear Myopathy): CNM is a serious form of muscular myopathy that affects the Labrador Retriever. First signs of the disease are seen in puppies 2-5 months of age. Symptoms include: loss of muscle tone and control, exercise intolerance, and awkward gait. There is a genetic test available for the Labrador Retriever, which should be completed before breeding to ensure the disease is not passed on to future generations. There is no cure or treatment for this genetic disorder.
EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse): EIC is an inherited disease that causes exercise intolerance and possible collapse in an otherwise healthy Labrador. Affected Labradors are generally normal at rest and can typically tolerate mild to moderate amounts of exercise; however, may become uncoordinated and even collapse with longer periods of strenuous exercise. Symptoms of the disease may show as early as 5 months of age or as late as 5 years of age. There is a genetic test available for the Labrador Retriever, which should be completed before breeding to ensure the disease is not passed on to future generations. There is no cure or treatment for this genetic disorder.
Cardiac Exams: Congenital Heart disease is thought to be a genetically inherited in canines and signs are can be present at birth and develop over time. It is recommended that all breeding Labradors undergo an annual cardiac exam using either auscultation (listening with a stethoscope) or an echocardiogram (visual exam of the heart and valves).
When searching for our Labrador puppy, ask the breeder what genetic tests and health screenings have been completed on both parents of the litter. The breeder should happily provide you with proof of these examinations and be willing to show you the OFA certificates. Furthermore, you can find detailed information about the health screenings completed on the parents, their siblings, and their offspring by visiting www.ofa.org. Be leery of any breeder that is unwilling or unable to provide you with proof of these examinations and genetic tests.
Now that you have done your research on the Labrador Retriever breed and decided that you are ready to adopt a puppy, you will need to determine whether you are interested in rescuing a dog or working with a breeder of purebred Labradors. If you decide that you want to work with a breeder, it is imperative that you do your research to ensure that you choose a responsible and ethical breeder.
Here are some tips to help guide you in your examination:
Check in next week to learn about the importance of testing for genetic diseases.