“Tell me what to do and I ask: WHY?”
If someone would have asked me 20 years ago, whether the Labrador Retriever would have the potential to be a family dog, I probably would have laughed out loud.
Of course I have the utmost confidence in the abilities of these dogs, but I didn’t expect the tolerance of the future owners. The Labrador loves water and dirt in every season. But he won’t appreciate it to wait alone outside until the dirt magically falls off.
In the earlier period dogs had to fulfill their tasks while being uncomplicated, undemanding, not too costly and overall useful. Therefor the small Dachshund was trending, people on the search for a status symbol preferred the Irish Setter, and to guard a German Shepard.
But how did the Labrador capture the heart of the families? How do they get the owner to spend all of his free time with his dog? To drive around from working test, to hunting exams and trainings, with a passion and happiness that only true enthusiasts have. I believe that the integration in the Labrador community is one of the strongest and I barely see it in other communities of different breeds.
I am fascinated by these dogs and their owners. They are very different and unique, but are united in their love for the Labrador. For one there are obstinate and older ladies and gentleman in classical tweed and wellies with a wide shaft, always with their pipes and the look into the distance. Knowing that he will appear soon, the Labrador with his prey, always with the clear task to bring it back to his owner. This brings a very brief happy and satisfied smile to the weather-stricken face, but it is more prominent in the eyes because the mouth is still busy with smoking the pipe. While other owners of other breeds never can be completely sure if something more exciting came up on the way, Labrador owners don’t know this fear. The Labrador will fulfill his task which leads to a special and natural relationship, where both owner and dog know they can rely on each other.
The younger generation doesn’t solely rely on tweed as their clothes of choice. Also sometimes it seems as they might lack the composure and serenity of the older generation. Of course a certain excitement and insecurity are natural when it comes to beginners. But no worry the dog will educate the owner. The Labrador retriever demands “Leadership skills” of his owner. He is willing to give it his all, but at the same time he needs clear instructions. In a hectic and messy atmosphere he will either become even more hectic, louder and wilder than everybody else and in the worst case uncontrollable. Or he shows how stubborn he can be and just sits and waits until his master or mistress calms down. That’s why every owner and trainer understands very fast, that the Labrador needs a calm and unaffected environment to complete his work, which he loves above everything else.
The Labrador was and still is the dog of the nobility. There is no castle that not at least two Labradors call their home.
Even the Queen bred Labradors and was fantastic in training them, of course always in Tweed!
Also as a family dog, the Labrador remains true to his nature. He won’t adjust to any cleanliness ideas of his mistress. He’s unreasonable with his diet, and likes to eat a quick snack, while walking on the street or spending time in a shrubbery. Every Labrador owner knows this certain look and the long nose, when his dog takes a quick detour and comes back licking his mouth.
He also carries things through your house until his master or mistress get he wants to work.
While the Labrador can be a family dog, it is sad to see when “informed” people reduce the Labrador to just being a family dog, completely forgetting the heritage and abilities these dogs have. Unfortunately often a lot of Labrador owners call and explain that they chose the Labrador, because under no circumstance they want a hunting dog.
Luckily, these people are often the ones who later wear their Dummy vests with pride, own several Dummies (very slobbery with time) and are able to distinguish between game birds and furred game. They also learn the “foreign language” of hunting (search-lost-apport) and are happy to be in nature (even when the weather is very bad) with likeminded people and happy Labradors.
And maybe the tweed will follow soon…..!