Saturday, September 16, 2006

Our Next Little "Girl"

Well, here she is (the black Lab on the right). This is the little girl pup we'll be adding to our pack in about a week (if she's ready). We're scheduled to pick her up on next Saturday, Sept 30th.

She comes from the same FABULOUS breeders where we found Elsie (different genetic lines, though): Deep Run Farm Hunting Retrievers in Goldvein, Virginia (225 miles from here, or about a five-hour drive one way). If we could, we'd take a hundred more like Elsie; these guys are the one of the best Lab breeders out there.

We think we'll name her "Kenya" in fond memory of our teaching trip to Kenya in 2001, and because she's nearly pure black like a fully roasted Kenyan coffee bean (my husband roasts his own coffee here, and Kenyan coffee is our favorite). Besides, we both like the name, and it sounds different enough from our other Labs' names for her to recognize it as hers.

So, are we nuts? We do, afterall, have Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge to love us, keep us company, work for us, keep us smiling, and to nuzzle against us on cold winter evenings. And they do require loads of attention and work, there's no doubt about that.

So here's the deal. This is why we're getting one more Lab.

All along we've hoped to begin breeding Labs as a small, home-based kennel that would raise and train Labs for folks here in southeastern PA. It's been difficult to find Labs in this area--quality, well-socialized, hunting-oriented Labs raised in a home environment, but also with exposure to the sounds and activities of hunting. Our plan is to breed Elsie this winter, once her hip and eye test results come back clean (we're assuming this of course, but will find out shortly). Ridge is our stud investment (gorgeous color, incredible agility, and very strong hunting background).

The catch is that Ridge and Elsie, because both are yellow Labs (Ridge is fox-red, Elsie is near white--both of which fall within the breed standard color range for yellows), they will only ever be able produce yellow pups.

We know from his previous owner (another terrific Lab breeder five hours away) that Ridge is capable of throwing (siring) black and chocolate pups (he did for them). But genetically, it's only possible for Ridge to do so if he mates with a chocolote or black female. [For you geneticists, black is dominant; yellow is recessive). So we need a black Lab female if we ever want to produce black or chocolate Lab pups.

It just so happens that our little "Kenya" (that's her name, unless she doesn't fit it when we see her) has a chocolate mom and a black dad. She should carry both color genes.

So in two years, as long as Kenya thrives and as long as her hip and eye tests come back fine, we'll try mating her with Ridge and see what happens.

In the meantime we'll have bred Elsie once, or maybe at the most twice, so we'll know better what to expect.

We did deliver one litter of Lab pups from our previous black Lab female, Stoney, then had her spayed, so we do have an idea of what we're getting into. But we're not ambitious; and we want to protect our dogs: we won't attempt more than one litter per year.

We just so want others (who you can be sure will be interviewed and cleared before we place any pups with them) to experience the joy of Lab ownership, especially with pups coming from a dam of Elsie's temperment and sire of Ridge's talent.

Labs are a GREAT breed; we simply want to perpetuate the best qualities of the breed.

So... that's our story. What do you think? Are we crazy?

Maybe we are; but it's a good kind of crazy.

'Til next time.

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