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
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 9½,
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
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 (9½ years old
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.
THE SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT DOG OR PUPPY
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
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
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
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
U-CH Deep Run Jonathon, Holly's
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
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
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
ADOPTION DAY, FINALLY
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
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
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,
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.
ADJUSTING TO HER NEW HOME
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
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
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.
BRINGING UP PUPPY
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
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
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 entry: Holly Needs a Puppy --
living with three Labrador retrievers in different life stages:
rambunctious puppy, slowly-maturing adult, and senior with doggie dementia
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup
© 2017 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil