Lake McIntosh @ Line Creek Nature Area, Peachtree City, GA


Runtrails' Web Journal
Previous       2017 Journal Topics       Home       Next



"May we always have a young one full of promise to admit us to those places of   
wonderment only permissible while in the company of a Labrador."
~ Gene Hill, from the epilogue of Richard's History of the Labrador

We don't think there's anything much cuter or sweeter than a Labrador retriever puppy, especially a yellow one whose facial expressions you can read better than those of a black or chocolate Lab:

So we got another one, ostensibly for Casey, our five-year-old female yellow Lab.

Ironically, it was Jim's idea to get a puppy this summer. This is the guy who somewhat reluctantly accepted the fact, after we met and got married, that I came with two 90-pound Labs named Bubba and Tater.

"Love me, love my dogs," as it were:

Tater (L) and Bubba in 2001

Bubba died at age 12. Tater was by herself for a few months until we got Cody-the-best-dog-I've-ever-had in 2003.

We weren't thinking "Tater needs a puppy" for companionship. Nope. I was simply thinking, "I want a young Lab to accompany me on as much of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run in 2005 as possible."

Cody was full of energy that summer at age 2, running and hiking with me off and on as we trekked from Georgia to Maine.

7-week-old Cody playing with 7-year-old Tater

Eventually Tater died, also at age 12. Cody was just 5, a good age for him to have a new companion. That's when I started saying, "Cody needs a puppy."

But we were busy traveling in our RV all over the country then for most of each year and not at our house in Virginia long enough to raise a puppy with some veterinary continuity until Cody was 9, too old, really, to have much fun with a rambunctious puppy.

For various reasons we were home longer in the fall and winter of 2012 and Jim agreed that the timing was good to get another puppy. Enter Casey, our lively little girl who we can't believe turned 5 already this past August.

How can she be 5 already?? She was a Wild Child until about a year ago and we wondered whether she was making us and Cody older -- or keeping us younger?

Above and below:  Casey (2 months old) and Cody (9 years old
and surprisingly tolerant of a pesky pup)

Casey's "Silly Wabbit" pose

Sharing a stick; Casey wasn't quite 3 months old yet.

Two years later, Cody was over 11 and not as willing to play with Casey any more.

Despite their age difference, Casey and Cody have co-existed happily the last five years as we traveled all or most of the time in our RV from Florida to Alaska and California to Nova Scotia. Those dogs have been to more states and provinces than most humans! Cody has been less and less eager to play with Casey as he gets older, and she's learned not to pester him so much.

After we decided to stop traveling in our RV and buy another house this spring, Jim was the first to realize that "Casey needs a puppy" while she's still young enough to enjoy playing with one.

After all, she's still got a lot of puppy in her:

Casey (2016) in our camper

Wow. Jim's suggestion took me by surprise because Cody is still with us at age 14, which is the equivalent in human years of 90-something! I've never had a dog live this long. Not only would a puppy be hard on Cody, neither Jim nor I have ever had three dogs at one time.

Could we handle that kind of potential chaos?

I didn't hesitate long, though. Like I said, there's nothing cuter or more FUN than a healthy, well-bred Lab puppy.

In several ways the timing was even better this year than when we got Casey. Now we have a step-less, single-story house -- no dangerous inside or outside steps for a young puppy to maneuver like at our previous house in Virginia -- a large, grassy fenced-in back yard to run and play, and no plans to be traveling in the foreseeable future. We'd have veterinary continuity until the pup had all her shots, and we could take her to puppy training classes over several weeks or months.

Thus began the search for our newest family member.


Jim and I agreed we wanted a smaller, well-bred female Lab with an easy-going temperament that would get along nicely with the two Labs we already have.

That meant another English Lab; that type tends to be more stocky and calm (when mature) than the more slender and more hyper American "field" Lab. Both types excel at hunting and obedience trials but the all-English version is usually the one that wins conformation titles in competition, exemplifying the best physical standards for the breed.

I was OK with another black Lab like Cody and Bubba. Jim made it clear he wanted another pretty yellow girl like Casey. I was fine with that because you really can see their expressions better and people tend to be less fearful of a yellow Lab than a black one.

Entrance to Deep Run Farm

Since we are getting older (late 60s) and we well remember how exuberant Casey was as a puppy, we started out with the idea of an older Lab puppy or young dog that was already trained and house-broken.

We hit a lot of dead-ends during our online search.

Deep Run Labs in northern Virginia, where we got Casey, had no older pups or young dogs at the time, although we could have gotten one of their champion breeding females (free, even!) after her current litter was done feeding from her. At six years of age, she was older than we wanted so we kept looking.

We drove to another part of Georgia to see a five-month-old female Lab that was supposedly from championship stock but we were disgusted by how overweight she was (= high risk for later joint and other health problems) and how dirty the kennels were. No way, and certainly not at the sky-high price the breeder was asking.

After a lot of e-mails and phone calls, we realized that it would be easier to find a young Lab puppy than an older one. There are definite advantages to starting out with an eight-week-old puppy; we'd just have to suck it up and realize there would be sleepless nights and lots of work ahead of us.

Stock photo from the internet

Alas, finding a new litter with a yellow female English Lab this spring/summer within a few hours' drive turned out to be problematic, too.

The breeders we contacted didn't have any young yellow English females currently, weren't expecting any such litters soon, or advertised pups with dilute genes ("silver"), which is controversial and not up to AKC standards for Lab colors. The only acceptable Lab colors are yellow (which can range from light cream to dark or reddish yellow), black, and chocolate (medium to dark brown).

After failing to find any puppies that met all of our criteria in Georgia or nearby states at the time we wanted to adopt one, we went into default mode and contacted Deep Run Retrievers in northern Virginia, where we got Casey. The only reason we didn't immediately put down a deposit on one of their puppies was our hope to find similar quality pups closer to our new home in Georgia.

The pups I've adopted previously from a shelter or back yard breeders -- those prior to Cody -- have had multiple physical problems that caused an earlier-than-expected demise. The ones sold as "purebred," with full AKC registration papers that would have allowed me to breed them, were not up to breed conformation standards. I neutered all of them and did not breed them -- but many people do.

Deep Run is committed to producing only the highest quality Labrador retrievers. Dr. Phyllis Giroux is a vet, a breeding expert, and well known in the competitive ring for all the champions her kennel has bred. Casey's dam -- GCH Belquest Deep Run Easy Peasy -- was the #1 female Lab in North America in 2011, the year before Casey was born. Her sire, GCH Robnie's Two Thumbs Up at Midnight AKA Siskel -- was the #3 male that year.

One of Easy's many AKC best of breed/variety wins

Deep Run has a lot of both English and American Labs that they breed themselves. Their best males they also breed to carefully-selected females owned by other breeders. Except for a few pups they either keep themselves to show and possibly breed, and the few they sell to other known, reputable breeders, all of their other puppies are sold with health guarantees for their hips and eyes -- and limited AKC registration so they cannot be bred. If they are, the pups can't be sold as purebred or use Deep Run in their name.

This year Deep Run has had several litters of Lab puppies for sale at once. When we first contacted Phyllis and her staff in the spring we learned that yellow English females were in high demand from their kennel and we were put on a waiting list. (We could have gotten a chocolate pup right then, or a black puppy in a few weeks.)

When a litter with yellow English pups was finally born on June 2 from one of the smaller dams and sires, Cassie x Jonathon, Phyllis recommended we get a puppy from that litter for the size and temperament we wanted.

U-CH Deep Run Jonathon, Holly's sire

U-CH Deep Run Jonathon is a young, handsome, cream-colored boy whose sire is the same as Casey's -- Siskel!  Here's a picture of Siskel:

GCH Robnie's Two Thumbs Up at Midnight AKA Siskel
Casey's sire and Holly's paternal grand-sire

I guess that makes our new puppy Casey's niece?? Jonathon has both conformation and hunting titles, including the Champion Dog title.

The dam, HIT Deep Run Cassiopeia AKA Cassie, has several titles after her name, too, including Senior Hunter (SH), Senior Hunter Upland (SHU), Rally Excellent (RE), and Champion Dog Excellent (CDX). She's a small female, which is why Phyllis recommended a puppy from her litter:

Above and below:  HIT Deep Run Cassiopia AKA Cassie after two of her successful shows

Dr. Phyllis Giroux, Deep Run's owner/vet/breeder, is in the middle.

We lucked out when we got Casey during the economic recession in 2012. Demand for well-bred, show-quality dogs was not as high then and we didn't have to wait more than a few days to pick Casey up at eight weeks of age.

For our new pup, we had to wait until she was born plus another eight weeks for her to be old enough to go to a new home. It seemed to take forever but at least it gave us more time to get settled into our new house and thoroughly plan for her.

We got these pictures of Holly -- we didn't name her until we'd had her several days -- from Deep Run while we were patiently (?) waiting for her:

Oh, how cute at 24 days old!

Holly two days before we got her at eight weeks of age


When we got Casey five years ago it seemed like a long four-hour drive each direction from our house near Roanoke to Deep Run Farm in northern Virginia.

This time we had a much longer drive from Peachtree City, Georgia, which is southwest of Atlanta. It took us ten hours to get up there on a Thursday and a whopping twelve hours to get back home on Friday after we picked Holly up. Both traffic and the weather were terrible on the return.

We stayed in a motel in Fredericksburg, VA overnight and drove twelve miles to the kennel on Friday morning. Casey and Cody were boarded while we were gone so we'd have time alone with our new puppy on the way home.

We were thrilled to get to meet Holly! She didn't give us as many kisses right away as Casey did but we could tell she was a sweet little girl, even if a bit apprehensive and under-whelmed by us at first:

It took less time to go over all the information about Holly this time since we'd adopted a puppy previously from Deep Run. We also asked to meet her sire and dam, as we did when we got Casey. Both are quite handsome and friendly dogs.

Phyllis and her staff want to be sure families getting their pups know as much as possible about caring for them so they give folks a lot of written and verbal information, several days' worth of food and supplements required for the health guarantee, a heartworm pill and flea-tick medicine, some sponsors' products, a little plush toy to keep the puppy company on the way to its new home (Holly got a little pink whale, Casey a star), a baby-sized collar and leash, and other items.

After about 45 minutes, we left with our new little bundle of joy!


That twelve-hour drive home with Holly was more peaceful than the shorter trip home with Casey five years ago, thanks to Snuggle Puppy. There was no howling, crying, or barking this time.

Before we got Holly I'd been researching ways to deal with Cody's symptoms of doggie dementia.

Snuggle Puppy, a soft plush toy that has a removable, battery-operated heart that "beats" (vibration plus sound), is primarily meant to sooth young puppies who've just left their littermates. However, some reviewers recommended them to calm very old dogs, too.

Above and below:  Holly in her crate her first full day at home; Snuggle Puppy is the darker
brown toy. There's another plush puppy in the background that she still sleeps with, too,
but it's Snuggle Puppy that she usually wraps herself around, over, or under.

Since we knew we'd have such a long drive home with Holly we ordered a Snuggle Puppy to put in the crate with her right behind our seats in the Odyssey minivan, hoping the beating heart would lull her to sleep most of the time.

It did -- it worked like a charm!

Where is Holly??

All the Labs I've had love to ride in vehicles and usually sleep soundly from the vibration. Snuggle Puppy added to the calming effect on that long drive and it also helped Holly adjust to sleeping all by herself in the crate overnight in her new home.

She's over four months old now and still loves that toy! We rarely put the heart in it any more but she still snuggles up to it at night and during naps, mouths the white top of its head in the morning while she's waiting for us to get up and open the kennel door, and sometimes drags it out to play with during the day.

Snuggle Puppy watches over Holly as she takes a daytime nap in her large wire kennel.
Holly was 4+ months old and up to 37 pounds when this picture was taken  10-16-17.

Cody isn't interested in Snuggle Puppy. Casey was initially fearful of the sound and vibration of the heart; she never plays with it either. So it's been just Holly's companion since she came to live with us.


Deep Run puppies aren't released to their new homes until they are eight weeks old for several good reasons, including less health risk, more socialization and maturity, and some training.

The pups are already used to other dogs of varying ages and have been handled by several people at the farm (this is a big operation but in NO WAY a "puppy mill"). Among other things you can read about the first weeks of the pups' lives on their website, Deep Run puppies all receive initial training to sit, heel, and hunt, they get to swim in ponds if the weather is suitable, and they are conditioned to sleeping in crates.

Still, it's a big adjustment for a puppy when she gets to a brand new environment -- and her new two- and possibly four-legged housemates.

Jim drying off Holly after she played in the doggie pool; isn't that sweet??

Since we got home quite late, we retrieved Casey and Cody from boarding the next morning. Rather than try to figure out a safe neutral place to introduce them to Holly, we kept her in her crate in the kitchen and let the older dogs come on in to greet her when they got home. We let Holly out after a few minutes and they got to sniff each other's body parts, as dogs are wont to do.

Their first day together was relatively uneventful, fortunately. Casey seemed happy to have someone to play with and Cody mostly tried to stay out of the way of "The Girls," who started playing together almost immediately:

I think it may have been a bigger adjustment for Casey and Cody than it was for Holly! She was used to being surrounded by lots of other dogs. Casey and Cody weren't.

In fact, they were used to having Jim and me all to themselves and now had to share time and love with a third little creature who just wanted to eat, sleep, pee, and pester them to play. We joked that Casey and Cody were probably wondering when this little interloper would go home!

Ha -- she was home and they had to learn to deal with it. I'll talk more about the dynamics of having three dogs of varying ages and personalities in the next entry.


Holly has been a joy to watch the last twelve weeks -- she'll be 20 weeks soon -- and she's also been a challenge for us aging pet parents. Jim keeps saying she's definitely our last puppy. If/when we get another dog, we definitely need to get an older pup or adult.

Casey and Holly look a lot alike, hence the reference in this entry's title to Casey's "Mini-Me." People often ask if Casey is the mom. They do have some other genes in common farther up the family tree besides Siskel, Casey's sire and Holly's paternal grand-sire.  

Casey and her Mini-Me on their first day together

Holly also acts a lot like Casey did when she was younger and has some of the same quirks. Every time Holly does something like Casey did or does that is unique to Casey, and not the other five Labs I've had, we joke, "It must be those Deep Run genes!"

Before we brought Holly home we we checked out three local dog trainers by getting references, observing beginner puppy classes that two of them were conducting, and talking with them about their training philosophies and techniques.

Holly needs a jungle-gym; she loves to climb on and through things,
like this swivel chair near the back door. She'd make a good agility dog.

This probably isn't something we should allow -- but we do. Usually there is
a throw and towels on the sofa and ottoman so she doesn't get them dirty.

We chose Robin Sockness of My Best Buddy Dog Training for Holly's initial training classes for several reasons -- her positive training methods, all the resources on her website, her association with our veterinary practice, and our ability to enroll Holly in September when she was three months old. Puppies can start in Robin's classes as young as 9 weeks.

The other trainer doesn't start classes for puppies until they are 20 weeks old; we knew we wanted professional help with Holly before that.

We regret not having Casey in puppy classes when we got her and vowed not to repeat the mistake. (Cody was in two sets of classes at a very young age and a star pupil. He's always been a good boy!)

Good girl!  Holly heels much better than Casey did when she was young.

I read and re-read Robin's links to Dr. Ian Dunbar's excellent online puppy training manuals before we got Holly so we could hit the ground running with her housetraining, bite inhibition, socialization, and other important developmental tasks: Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy. I think they are must-reads.

Holly was the youngest puppy in the class but she did well and won the "Most Sociable" award at graduation. (There are good reasons why Labs have been the most popular dogs in this country for the last 26 years.)

Like Casey, Holly is a quick learner but doesn't always want to obey commands. We know that may get worse when she's a "teenager" in a month or two so we work with her every day on come ("Holly-Holly" in a happy sing-song voice works almost every time!), sit, down, stand, off, leave-it (or simply "NO!"), take it, give, watch me, heel, and wait/stay.

We also do fun things like shake and roll over (like Cody and Casey, she loves belly rubs).

Holly has that "Silly Wabbit" look, too. We love to tickle her and rub her soft belly.

As with Casey, our biggest problems are with Holly wanting to jump up on people she meets and pulling us toward other dogs she wants to greet.

We're working hard on that while she's still easy to control and doesn't weigh 55 pounds, her predicted grown weight. We also plan to take her to advanced puppy classes next month.


It's important that young puppies get to meet a wide variety of people, especially men and children, and get conditioned to a lot of things that might make them fearful -- thunderstorms, traffic, bicycles, sirens, radios/TV, vacuum cleaners, stairs, door bells, various other kinds of animals, being handled by a vet or dog groomer, etc.

In our first class Robin gave us a packet of information that included a Puppy Socialization Check List that we were to complete by the end of classes four weeks later. There were about 70 things we were to expose our puppies to. Some weren't relevant to our household but we sought them out just in case.

Above and below:  Jim let some water trickle through the nozzle so Holly could play with it.
She's a water dog, so she loves getting squirted off, playing in the puppy pool, and swimming in a lake.

We also added some other noises/experiences that were relevant, like tunnels (on our cart paths), trains, power tools, lawnmowers and leaf blowers, water sprinklers, armadillos, rabbits, and deer (she sees those animals in our yard and on our walks).

Although socialization with people and other canines is an important developmental task for young puppies, we didn't let Holly interact with most other dogs except Casey and Cody until she was 16 weeks old and had all her shots.

Nor could we let her walk on the ground until after that on the bike paths or in stores like PetsMart and Home Depot that allow pets inside.

Holly, Casey, and Jim in the golf cart at Lake Peachtree, inviting people to pet the puppies!

Our solution for socializing Holly with people when she was 8 to 16 weeks old was to invite friends and neighbors to our house to meet her, take her for rides in the golf cart to places where folks of all ages gather -- like the weekly farmers' market and the pier at Lake Peachtree -- and carry her into dog-friendly stores so people could pet her.

We quickly found out she's as much of a guy-magnet as a chick-magnet! I was surprised how many teen-age boys and grown men were attracted to her.

One day when Holly was still quite small we wanted to order new honeycomb blinds for a few windows in the house. Jim carried her into Home Depot in her crate and put it on one of the flatbed carts to wheel through the store. We took her out of the crate and held her a few times when people wanted to pet her. While we were ordering the blinds, she slept peacefully in her crate with Snuggle Puppy:

Holly got to play with the other three puppies in her beginner puppy class before she had all her shots and we let her play with a neighbor's dog in our back yard, knowing his owner kept up with his vaccines.

Socialization with people and other puppies/dogs has been much easier since she got all her shots at 16 weeks. We take her out on the cart paths for walks and let her go occasionally for a few hours to Puppy Tubs, our favorite day care and boarding facility in Peachtree City. Socializing with other dogs in day care at Puppy Tubs has helped Casey settle down when she greets dogs while walking, and we hope the same will hold true for Holly.


Another important developmental task for young puppies -- and their pet parents -- to learn as early as possible is going outside to potty, not inside. If a puppy makes a mistake indoors, it's the human's fault, not the puppy's.

This has been a bit of a problem for us because it's difficult even for two of us to keep our eyes on Holly every moment she's awake and out of her crate.

Since she's a crate puppy (as were Cody and Casey), she'll bark to let us know she needs to potty when she's confined -- even at eight weeks old. Puppies don't want to soil their sleeping area. But when she was loose and we didn't see/hear her go to the back door, sometimes she peed inside the house near the door.

Mud Puppy:  Sometimes she just wants to go out to play and get dirty.

In puppy class Robin told us about Poochie Bells, four attractive silver bells on a wide ribbon that hangs from the doorknob where you want your pet to go outside to potty.

Jim ordered a set of the bells and Holly learned in about 10 seconds what fun it was to ring them by touching her nose to them:  Wow, whenever I ring these bells, Mom or Dad appears really fast and lets me outside, even if I just want to go out to play!!

When we don't hear the bells, now at four months of age Holly will usually (but not always) bark loud enough for us to hear her so we can let her out to potty -- or just play. That's OK, too, although sometimes it feels like we're operating a revolving door. In this house it's not practical to install a doggie door. Wish we could.

This sign our buddy Matt sent to us when Casey was little is relevant once again:

For all three of our dogs it's easiest to just let them out at predictable intervals during the day -- when they get up in the morning, after meals, after hard play, before bed, etc. -- rather than wait for them to whine, bark, ring the bells, or silently sit by the back door.

Holly is almost at the point now where she can sleep all night without waking us up to go out to potty. We'll be mighty happy when we can count on a whole night with uninterrupted sleep.


After reading Dr. Dunbar's online books about puppy training we bought several new Kong and other stuffable chew toys for Holly. He encourages their use to keep puppies happy in their crates for longer periods of time and out of trouble when loose in the house.

My/our previous Lab pups were never all that interested in Kong or other hard chew toys after they extracted the kibble or treats inside them. When they were young they preferred to eviscerate soft stuffed toys instead! So it's been nice to see Holly's continued interest in playing with some of the hard chew toys we got her.

Her two favorites are the little green "Squirrel Dude" we use for part of her food each meal, so she has to work for it:

and this "dental" (rough-edged) hard brown chew toy called a Luna Bone that I found at Walmart (this is the larger of the two sizes our store carries):

Funny thing is, five-year-old Casey also now loves to play with those two toys, too! The Luna Bone is especially well-chewed by both of The Girls but is still serviceable. It's made to last.

This is a Kong chew toy we got Holly but she doesn't play with it much after she's gotten the kibble out:

Holly with a Kong Stuff-a-Ball chew toy

Holly and Casey love toys and equipment they can share like balls to chase, tug toys, the agility tunnel we bought for them to run through, and their puppy pool:

Holly with an old tug squeaky toy

Even though it was advertised as competition quality, we had to return this 15 foot long tunnel to the
manufacturer because it appeared to have been used and was falling apart. All three dogs loved it.

While Jim was checking out the seams inside, Holly had to help.

Getting this inexpensive 5-foot diameter plastic kids' pool was genius on Jim's part because Casey and Holly love playing in it:

The Girls check out the marine life on the bottom of the pool when it's empty.
When full of water, they both paw at the "fish" that appear to be moving in the water!

It's more fun with some water, of course. 

Life with Holly the first two and a half months has been both a challenge and a lot of fun for us. In true Lab puppy fashion, she often does something either intentionally or inadvertently to make us smile or laugh, and then we forget that she woke us us up at 3 AM that morning to go out to pee -- again.

I think we'll keep her.  <grin>

Jim has taken several short videos of her antics with his smart phone. If we can figure out how to put them on our website, I'll include a link to them.

Next entryHolly Needs a Puppy -- living with three Labrador retrievers in different life stages:  rambunctious puppy, slowly-maturing adult, and senior with doggie dementia

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup

Previous       Next

2017 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil