On Teaching Old, and Not So Old, Labs New Tricks
May 7, 2012
Saturday, May 12, the local chapter of the Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue hosts a “Flea Market” Fundraiser. (“Flea market”...Get it?)
It will involve a silent wine auction, a raffle for trips, dinners, an iPad, gift certificates, and much more, and a flea market full of new and gently used items such as clothing and toys.
But it also raises the question: What makes an organization focus entirely on labradors? What about the irresistible Siberian husky? The charismatic pug? The ever-popular retrievers. A talk with Judy Kreger, senior member and former president of Golden Gate Labs, revealed an answer: All volunteers are lab lovers, many of them have labs of their own, and working with GGLRR allows them to channel their adoration for the dogs into something tangible, resulting in less dogs on the street and more in loving homes. Besides, there are enough labradors alone to keep them busy.
Adoration and 10 other interesting tidbits
Other Interesting Labrador Tidbits:
• Besides benefiting from individual human attention that comes with foster care, labs also tend to pick up many good habits from the volunteers’ dogs. “All of the fosters are dog people, most have dogs as their own, most have labs of their own; their dogs teach the foster dogs as much as the people,” states Judy.
• As a result of being originally bred to help fishermen catch waterfowl, labs have webbed feet, water repellent fur, otter-like tails, and a strong affinity for water.
• Labs have a high success rate of recovering from abusive circumstances, proving to be, in Judy’s words, extremely “resilient and trustworthy.” Foster lab Jelly Bean was left to die on the side of the road with a broken femur that was badly smashed. After being brought to an orthopedic surgeon and undergoing a difficult surgery to save the leg, Jelly Bean completely recovered and is now living with a family in Carmel.
• Because of their easy going temperament and ability to work hard, labs are often used in search and rescue—or as therapy dogs.
• The GGLRR’s website always has a lot of traffic from local people looking to adopt from their lab database. The average amount of time most labs are in foster care, before getting adopted, is only one to two weeks.
• GGLRR stays connected with the community through a forum that allows people to share their successful adoption stories, resulting in many pictures of happy labs and their owners flooding their positive feedback page. The return rate of the labs is low 5 percent.
• Older dogs are often dumped due to ongoing or expensive medical issues, for instance, Maggie was given up by her owners partially because she couldn’t control her peeing. She also had a mammary tumor and horribly infected ears. Upon arriving at GGLRR, Maggie had her tumor removed, was treated for her ear infection, and was put on an once a day medication to fix her urinary problem. Now Maggie lives a happy and healthy life in her new home.
• In the small amount of time the dogs are in foster care, they are given a crash course in obedience. Foster families use this time to make sure they are housebroken, socialize them, and teach them how to play with toys.
• Along with the foster families, behaviorists, vets, and trainers also volunteer their work and time towards the rehabilitation process. Help from programs like the Carmel Holistic Vet Clinic are what make stories like Jelly Bean’s possible.
• With more and more families suffering financially, it is becoming increasingly common for people to give up their dogs on the basis of not being able to pay for their medical needs. A torn cruciate ligament, a injury common in athletic dogs such as labs, can be expensive to treat (costing GGLRR $2,000 with their vet discount), resulting in owners surrendering their dogs to shelters. Just in this last week, GGLRR has had to conduct 3 major surgeries.
• Because of the strong bonds formed between fosters and the labs, it is not unheard of for a foster family to end up adopting the dog they are housing. Kreger found herself with five labs instead of four after fostering a puppy who had already moved homes twice.