Archive for the 'Lab Tails' Category

We received this bit of Luvin’ Labs history today from the original founder of the rescue know as Lodestar Dog Ranch.

“13 years ago today Lodestar Dog Ranch brought in it’s first dog (actually 2 dogs) from Valencia County.

We named them Abby and Bo (the plan was to name the dogs alphabetically thinking we would never adopt out more than 26).    I put them in crates in the back of the pickup.  As I swung on to I-40 from I-25 I looked in my rear view mirror; Bo had escaped from the crate and was walking around loose in the bed of the truck.  Having no idea if he would be scared and exit the vehicle right in the middle of the Big I,  I pulled over immediately to check out the situation and found Bo was a very happy camper. I’m sure he would have ridden home in the bed of the truck but I put  him back in the crate and home we went. That was my first, of many, rescue experiences.”

Today Luvin’ Labs has found homes for over 1160 dogs and, while the leadership of the rescue has changed, the mission and dedication have not.  From Abby and Bo to our most recent adoption Eliza we thank our vets, volunteers, fosters, adopters and our friends in the shelters who have helped make this possible.  On October 17th Luvin’ Labs will host our first reunion and it is our hope to see many of those dogs that we rescued, loved and found forever homes as well as seeing many of those who made that possible.  Please mark your calendar and join us for this special event!





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Papa Murphy’s Take and Bake Fundraising Cards are now for sale with Luvin’ Labs! For $5.00 you’ll receive 8 specials including a FREE large Pizza, free cookie dough, free cinammon wheel plus discount coupons … an easy sell!

To purchase please stop by Good Shepherd Animal Clinic or visit us at any of our events.

If you are able to help us sell the cards please email
All proceeds benefit Luvin’ Labs dogs in the program and coming in to our program.

A loving tribute to his precious pack members who have crossed the rainbow bridge to a better place…

Always giving, unconditional love, expanding our horizons, we miss you and will always remember you.  Thank you for allowing us to experience the journey together.

Luvin’ Labs volunteer Anthony Martinez



For information on becoming a foster click here!



Did you know that large black dogs are commonly the last to be adopted?  This phenomenon is referred to by shelters and rescues as black dog syndrome.  Black dogs are often more difficult to find homes for and among the first to be euthanized.  Their fate lies not with their ability to love, their personality or their intelligence, but merely the color of their coat.

We ask you to come meet our awesome black dogs currently in the rescue…Cody, Jayda, Jett, Nan, Sasha, Baiden, Hope and Bandit, Danae, Britney, Vader, Calvin…all have their own story to tell and all are looking for that loving forever home.  Or visit your local shelter…you’ll quickly see this phenomenon, but you’ll also see what wonderful treasures are there wrapped in black fur.

Thinking of adopting…check out the 10 reasons you might want to consider a black dog…





Are you a photographer, either professionally or for fun?  Would you be willing to help Luvin’ Labs take photos of dogs in our program and occasionally dogs in shelters to help better show their appearance, character and personality.

If so, please contact us at or via email at  We’d love to have you as a member of the Luvin’ Labs team!



July 4, 2016 Update:  We’ve been missing Jazmine for 2 years.

November 21:  Jazmine is still missing.  We believe someone must have taken her in since she has not shown up at the shelters and there have been no sightings of her.  Do you know of a neighbor who has a black female lab they found around the 4th of July?  This could be our Jazmine.  She is miscrochipped, but had no collar.  Please, call if you know of her. 

September 11:  We have still had no news of Jazmine.  We are hoping that some kind family took her in, and we are hoping they will call us and help us get her back to her family.  At this point, she could be anywhere.  Have you seen her?

July 18th Update:  We are still looking.  Jazmine could be near Phoenix/Washington/Menual area, she could be near the open space near Costco on I-25/Montgomery, she could have followed a bike path and traveled up to the Chelwood park area.  She has been missing for over two weeks!  Please, if you have time go out to these areas and take a look.  We have put up flyers, but if you can also help with that please call us.  We are hoping someone has her and will call.  She is microchipped!

July 16th Update:  It is believed that Jazmine was seen in the vicinity of Chelwood Park near Lomas and Tramway today.

Jazmine’s owner is desperate to find her…Jazmine is a 3 year old female black lab who got out of her family’s yard on the 4th of July.  Last seen in the vicinity of Phoenix and Carlisle NE in Albuquerque on the evening of the 4th.  Jazmine slipped out of her collar, but is microchipped.   If you see her or know where she might be please call 505-720-6806 or 505-362-0331.

Congrats to Max, Luvin’ Labs’ #1000 adoption, and his new family!

And Max has his own special story.  Last week we received a call from a lady in El Paso.  Her father had passed away and they were desperate to find his beloved lab Max a place to go.  At 7 years old Max was a loyal companion to her dad since a puppy, even saving her dad’s life when he went into a diabetic coma on 2 occasions.  They had just arrived from out of state and would be leaving to go back in 2 days; taking Max back home with them was not an option.  They had checked with the local shelter and found that as an owner surrender Max would have no chance of finding a home.  They did a search of possible rescues and found Luvin’ Labs.  That was Wednesday afternoon…

Colleen and her crew of volunteers immediately stepped into action.  Shirley, another rescue’s volunteer in El Paso, offered to transport Max from El Paso to Las Cruces.  David, a Luvin’ Labs volunteer, agreed to meet her in Las Cruces and bring Max to Albuquerque.  Thursday afternoon Max was in Albuquerque to begin his quest as a Luvin’ Labs dog looking for a new forever home.

Susan and Al had been in search of a new best friend after losing their 12 year old lab in July.  While they had met several dogs, none seemed to be “their dog” until they met Max.  And Max, after coming so close to being homeless and on death row, went as a very happy dog to his new forever home today.  And Luvin’ Labs celebrated not only his homecoming, but the 999 other labs that have found homes thru the tireless efforts of all of us at Luvin’ Labs.

Welcome home Max!


Walking nicely

We are SO pleased that we were able to have our first Luvin’ Labs Fostercare Seminar with trainer Arie Deller.  The weather was perfect – warm with a beautiful perfume of Russian Olive blossoms in the air, –  and we had a nice attendance of new,  perspective and experienced foster families, including some from a few other rescue groups.

Arie was so generous to put on this free seminar to help our Foster Families learn how to deal with some of the issues that we come across in bringing home a new foster dog.   She is quite knowledgeable about the things we deal with, and was able to give us some good pointers on how to help these dogs along their journey to a new adoptive home while they are waiting in foster care.  She obviously cares very much about the welfare of these dogs and has worked with several rescue organizations, including Luvin’ Labs.

We got some great info on helpful supplies, introducing the new foster dog to the family (people and dogs and cats), preventing jumping, exercise ideas, crate training how-to, and walking nicely on leash.  Arie had some neat tips that will make these things easier.

We hope to have other seminars coming up that will deal with other issues that foster families come across, including behavior issues.  Arie is open to suggestions for topics that would be helpful, so if anyone has things that they would like to see addressed in upcoming seminars, please let us know.

Our own Luvin’ Labs Watson was also a wonderful assistant in the demonstrations with Alexa, and whoever adopts this gorgeous, sweet boy will be so fortunate.   He is available for adoption with his buddy, Sherlock who he is very bonded with.

A very big, heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to Arie and her dog, Sarge for putting on this seminar for our fosters and for the helpful handouts.  And thanks too, go out to Dogtown for allowing us to use their facility, and to everyone who turned out for this seminar.  We also had another very nice demo dog who helped Arie, but I am sorry I missed his name!

If you are interested in becoming a Foster Family for Luvin’ Labs, we need you!  Click here for our foster application.

Nelda, Luvin’ Labs Foster Coordinator

Watson proper dog meeting




Happy Birthday to Henry and Mateo who celebrated their 2nd birthday Sunday, 1-19. They loved their ‘cake’ but weren’t too thrilled with the hats…  Henry and Mateo’s mom Ginny was rescued by Luvin’ Labs just prior to their birth.  They share this birthday with 5 other siblings, all living in loving forever homes.


Some interesting facts you probably didn’t know…




Have you been wanting to volunteer with Luvin’ Labs, but only have a couple of hours a month to volunteer?

Luvin’ Labs is looking for people who are willing to volunteer to help with our home visits. This is the final step in our process before our dogs go to their forever homes. Every home visit volunteer will be trained and given a form with specifics to look for.

Our goal is to have volunteers in all areas of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

What better way to help a lab find their forever home!

Please, call (505) 362-0331 or email us at if you are interested in helping with our home visits.



Black Dog








The backbone of our rescue is those caring individuals who offer to open their homes and their hearts to the many unwanted souls who find themselves on a shelter list that counts their future existence in hours or even minutes.  We rescued these dogs often just moments before they are scheduled to be euthanized.  We can only do this based on the resources we have as a rescue, one of the most essential being somewhere for them to go.  For those of you who don’t know, when we don’t have fosters available, Luvin’ Labs boards dogs at a boarding facility in Albuquerque at a daily cost.  We typically have 6 dogs in boarding, those numbers fluxing higher and lower depending on the number of fosters we have.  While boarding enables us to rescue more dogs, the ultimate goal is to get these dogs into foster homes.  Our fosters play such an essential role as they help these dogs begin their recovery and transition process prior to finding their forever homes.  We make every effort to match a dog with their foster very much like we do their forever home.

Does fostering involve work?  You bet…To take a dog who has been dumped, ended up as a stray or recovering from this or that to transition into an adoptable dog…it’s work that involves lots of training, love and patience.

Is fostering hard?  You bet…Daily you’ve chores and vet visits and leash training; all done with the emotional knowledge that this very being you’ve allowed into your home and heart will eventually leave you.

Is fostering emotionally draining?  You bet it is.

Is fostering rewarding?  Just look at the faces of those pups on our forever home page and those in our adoption success stories…those without voices whose very life would not have been possible without their fosters.  Daily I look at my own foster failures Buddy and Sammie…they make my life whole and complete.  They are so worth my fostering them.

We are currently full.  Plainly spoken, we can intake no more animals until we find forever or foster homes for those currently in our care.  We desperately need fosters for  Mystery, Baiden, Hope, Caleb, Jax, Samantha, Lacey, Sasha, Wilson, Duncan, and Murphy.  Please help us as the next phone call we get asking us to rescue a lab, who through no fault of its own will die, we will tearfully have to say no, we cannot help.

Please…don’t you have room in your heart, don’t you have room in your family, for just one more?




Just in time for Christmas our adoptable labs in boarding have a huge new playground.

Thanks to all who helped make this happen, whether it be prayers, help on the lot and donations, the property owner for loaning us the lot, Tmss the contractor for leveling the lot for us, Fred for helping make that happen, Diane at LuvnCare boarding for chain link sections,  Fran for all the help with cleaning and Marita’s husband who was there almost everyday, making Marita’s dream come true.

The playground is normally open for lab play everyday except Sunday and Thursday from 10:30 am to noon and is located at the corner of Wisconsin and Grand NE.  If you are interested in meeting one or all of our delightful boarding pups call (505) 362-0331 to ensure someone is planning to be there.

Enjoy your new playground Cliff, Baiden, Mystery and Lincoln!


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The reason so many of us do what we do. A former LL rescue with a current LL foster, pulled off death row when his time was up. Does it get any better than that?

Every dog must have a soul, somewhere deep inside

Where all his hurts and grievances are buried with his pride.

Where he decides the good and bad, the wrong way from the right,

And where his judgment carefully is hidden from our sight.

A dog must have a secret place, where every thought abides,

A sort of close acquaintance that he trusts in and confides.

And when accused unjustly for himself, He cannot speak,

Rebuked, He finds within his soul, the comfort he must seek.

He’ll love, tho’ he is unloved, and he’ll serve tho’ badly used,

And one kind word will wipe away the times when he’s abused.

Altho’ his heart may break in two, his love will still be whole,

Because God gave to every dog an understanding Soul!


Sheila and Page Butler are fabulous advocates in the Dalls area. They have transported most of our pups from that area, fostered many of them, and always help us with fundraising, vet visits, and anything else we need. We are so blessed to be a part of their journey in helping those without voices. Thank you both of you, the world is a better place because you are in it. Wishing you lots of labby kisses.

Please watch the video for pictures of Kane, Rigel, Kaiden, Rex, Cocoa, Sawyer, Travolta and many more Luvin’ Labs alumni.

To volunteer to become an animal transporter please email

A few years ago, Julien Roohani of Portland, Oregon, was at work when her roommates spontaneously decided to go on a hike. Not wanting to exclude Julien’s six-month-old Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Niña, they threw her into the back of their pickup truck and set off for an adventure.
Niña had never been in a truck bed before. Whether she was scared or just spotted something of interest, she managed to jump out during the drive. Panicking, the roommates called Julien, who rushed Niña to an emergency veterinary clinic where she was diagnosed with a broken spine and other severe injuries. Julien had no choice but to allow her young pup to be humanely euthanized.
Unfortunately, stories like Niña’s are all too common. It is never safe to drive with an unrestrained pet—especially with that pet in an open truck bed.
“When you drive with a loose dog in the back of your truck, you’re taking a huge risk and placing your dog and other motorists in danger,” says Chuck Mai, a vice president with AAA Oklahoma. “Even if a dog is trained, we’re talking about an animal who responds to stimuli on impulse. This irresponsible decision can start a deadly chain reaction on the road.”
Is It Legal?
Transporting unrestrained dogs in low-sided truck beds has been banned in a handful of states, including California and New Hampshire, and municipalities including Indianapolis, Cheyenne and Miami-Dade. However, in the vast majority of jurisdictions, it’s not even illegal to transport children in this manner, so we must rely on common sense and education to protect children and pets alike.
How You Can Help
One can feel terribly helpless witnessing a loose dog in a pickup truck. The best course of action is to try to get the vehicle’s license number (if you can do so while remaining safe) and call the local police. Rather than dialing 911, Jill Buckley, ASPCA Senior Director of Government Relations, suggests storing your police precinct’s phone number in your cell phone.




Rescue dogs come with baggage, but baggage can be a good thing if the baggage will hold all you want. Will any dog be the perfect dog? Will any dog’s human be the perfect dog’s human? The only dog that most of us have had that was even close to perfect was the one over which we are still grieving.

What do you want from your new dog? What do you NOT want from your new dog? To even begin your quest for the perfect dog you must answer those questions.

I once spoke to a woman who had a dachshund. She told me her neighbor asked her to go for a brisk walk with her and her dog—a three year old Labrador Retriever. (If only You Tube was around then.) Brisk walks with a short-legged, ground sniffer may expose a gap between what you want and what you’re not getting.

Dogs are bred for certain activities. The closer the activities you engage in are to the reason the dog was bred, the closer to perfect your dog will be. Don’t expect the dog to change its instincts to match your activities. Humans are supposed to be the smart ones. We may have to pick our battles and adjust our activities to match our dog’s personality in order to close in on perfection.

When you get your semi-perfect rescue dog home, and he exhibits less than ideal behavior, you can either train Rover out of the imperfection, or “manage around” the deficiency.

Let’s say you have a dog who gets agitated when you stick your hand in his food. Don’t stick you hand in his food! A person can live a perfectly fulfilled life with out having one’s hand stuck in dog food. If you feel you must feel up his food in order to show you’re the team leader, and the dog says, “no,” in your world, you do not have a perfect dog. (and possible one less finger). If you accept his little puppy peccadillo and keep your hands out of his food, you have a perfect dog. Congratulations.

A dog is a dog, and she is what she is. You are considering adopting a rescued Lab, warts and all. Learn all you can about the breed and about the Lab you are considering, and when you decide to take one of God’s most perfect creatures into your life, show her you’re up to the distinct privilege and challenge of being a “perfect” Lab’s human.

Tom Payne
Founder Lodestar Dog Ranch
Check out his blog

Photos are of Caderyn a Luvin’ Labs alumni.
Top photo is Caderyn at the shelter in Dallas Texas deemed “unadoptable”
and above, Caderyn at his loving home, in so many ways the “perfect” lab.


Today is a sad day for the rescue community around the world. Every once in a while, a story comes along that seems to unite the world. Lennox, a family pet, the victim of breed specific legislation, was just that sweet soul. Lennox was euthanized today in Belfast, Northern Ireland because he looked like a banned breed, a pit bull. His family fought for 2 years to free him, to no avail. They were not even allowed to see him before he was pts and last they heard, they might get to have some of his ashes. Our hearts go out to his family and we wish Lennox peace and freedom at the rainbow bridge. To read more about Lennox, please visit the link:


It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.
~ Unknown


When God made me, he spelled his name backwards and called me Dog.

I am a dog. I am a living, breathing animal. I feel pain, joy, love, fear and pleasure.

I am not a thing. If I am hit – I will bruise, I will bleed, I will break. I will feel pain. I am not a thing.

I am a dog. I enjoy playtime, walk time, but more than anything, I enjoy time with my pack – my family – my people. I want nothing more than to be by the side of my human. I want to sleep where you sleep and walk where you walk. I am a dog and I feel love…I crave companionship.

I enjoy the touch of a kind hand and the softness of a good bed. I want to be inside of the home with my family, not stuck on the end of a chain or alone in a kennel or fenced yard for hours on end. I was born to be a companion, not to live a life of solitude.

I get too cold and I get too hot. I experience hunger and thirst. I am a living creature, not a thing.

When you leave, I want to go with you. If I stay behind, I will eagerly await your return. I long for the sound of your voice. I will do most anything to please you. I live to be your treasured companion.

I am a dog. My actions are not dictated by money, greed, or hatred. I do not know prejudice. I live in the moment and am ruled by love and loyalty.

Do not mistake me for a mindless object. I can feel and I can think. I can experience more than physical pain, I can feel fear and joy. I can feel love and confusion. I have emotions. I understand perhaps more than you do. I am able to comprehend the words you speak to me, but you are not always able to understand me.

I am a dog. I am not able to care for myself without your help. If you choose to tie me up and refuse to feed me, I will starve. If you abandon me on a rural road, I will experience fear and loneliness. I will search for you and wonder why I have been left behind. I am not a piece of property to be dumped and forgotten.

If you choose to leave me at a shelter, I will be frightened and bewildered. I will watch for your return with every footfall that approaches my kennel run.

I am a dog – a living, breathing creature. If you choose to take me home, please provide me with the things that I need to keep me healthy and happy.

Provide me with good food, clean water, warm shelter and your love. Do not abandon me. Do not kick me. Do not dump me when your life gets too busy. Make a commitment to me for the entirety of my life, or do not take me home in the first place.

If you desert me, I do not have the means to care for myself. I am at the mercy of the kindness of people – if I fall into the wrong hands, my life will be ruined.

I will experience pain, fear and loneliness. If I wind up in an animal shelter, I have only my eyes to implore someone to save me, and my tail to show you that I am a friend. If that is not good enough, I will die.

I am a dog. I want to give and receive love. I want to live. I am not a thing. I am not a piece of property. Please do not discard me. Please treat me with kindness, love and respect. I promise to repay you with unconditional love for as long as I live.

By Jim Willis, 2001

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend.  Whenever I was”bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent, and roll me over for a bellyrub. My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together.  I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.  We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs,” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate.  I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.  She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” — still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her.  I was happy because you were happy.  Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement.  I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother  them, too.  Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate.  Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.”

As they began to grow, I became their friend.  They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose.  I loved everything about them and their touch — because your touch was now so infrequent — and I would have defended them with my life if need be.  I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me.  These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject.  I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.  Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets.  You’ve made the right decision  for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter.  It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness.  You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.”  They shrugged and gave you a pained look.  They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.”   You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy!  Please don’t let them take my dog!”  And I worried for him, and what  lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty,  about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.  You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you.  You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too.  After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home.  They shook their heads and asked “How could you?”  They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy  schedules  allow.  They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago.  At first,whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind — that this was all a bad dream … or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room.  A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry.     My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief.  The prisoner of love had run out of days.  As is my nature, I was more concerned about her.  The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.  She gently placed a  turniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek.  I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.  She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein.  As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and  hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place.  And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her.  It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of.  I will  think of you and wait for you forever.  May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

The End

A note from the author:
If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly owned pets who die each year in American and  Canadian animal shelters.  Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice.

Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards.  Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious.  Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

 Luvin’ Labs alumn Bosque helping out around the house…

Toby knew what he wanted for Christmas. The same thing everyone here wanted.

A ring.

Christmas was close, he could feel it. Ribbons were hung on the walls, and there were special treats with dinner. More people came by to visit, and everybody was in a good mood.

Except Emmett. When Toby shared with Emmett his Christmas wish, Emmett just shook his head.

“Toby, you and I don’t get rings,” he said. “Look at us, a couple of losers who were given up on. It’s the youngsters that get rings.”

Toby looked at his reflection in his water dish. There was gray on his muzzle and along the tips of his ears. It was true he couldn’t play fetch like he used to. And his legs hurt when he walked too much.

But he could still race to the front door when he heard it swing open, wagging his tail like a pup, and go on a slow walk around the block, sniffing here and there. And how he loved to curl up at the foot of the bed, keeping watch during the night.

But those were the old days. Now he was here, with Emmett instead of with –

“See, here we go again,” Emmett said as puppies up and down the long hallway yapped and barked, a sign that people had just arrived. Emmett stretched out on the concrete next to his water dish. “Wake me when it’s over.”

Toby peeked through the gate and saw a little boy and girl walking slowly his way. They stopped in front of almost every kennel, and sometimes they would kneel in front of one and laugh.

Toby wished them closer, his tail wagging. He knew if they saw him, then maybe . . . just maybe . . .

“Don’t get your hopes up,” said Emmett, his eyes still closed. “You’ll only be disappointed.”

Toby looked down the hall. The woman in the blue shirt who brought food every day was opening one of the gates. A brown puppy bounded out and into the arms of the girl, who squealed with delight.

From her back pocket, the woman in the blue shirt brought out a ring, pale gray, just like all the rings. She slipped it over the puppy’s head.

“Everyone wants cute and adorable,” Emmett said as he heard the door close, knowing what surely had happened. “Years ago we were cute and adorable. No more.”

But it was Christmastime, Toby thought. Things are different at Christmastime. There is happiness. There is cheer.

There is hope.

Toby remembered when he had a home and a bed and a yard and a person who loved him. But one day people came and they were crying, and the next day he was here. Now all he wanted was a ring, again.

Emmett opened an eye when the barking started again but closed it as he stretched out. Toby pressed his muzzle to the gate and wished again.

“It’s Christmastime,” he said. “A season for miracles.”

He saw the woman in the blue shirt, and she had by the elbow a man walking very slowly down the aisle. They were talking, but Toby couldn’t hear them over the barking.

They came closer. And closer.

Almost, thought Toby. Almost.

Toby squeezed his eyes shut. He wished harder than he had ever wished before.

“Hey, fella, what’s your name?” Toby heard.

He opened his eyes.

Toby noticed the man had gray around his muzzle and more gray around his ears. He was bent over slightly, and Toby noticed a cane holding the man up.

Toby wagged his tail and put his paw on the gate, and when he did, it opened.

The woman in the blue shirt reached behind her. There in her hand was a ring. Gray, like all the rest. But the man shook his head.

Please, Toby wished. Please.

The man reached behind him and pulled out his own ring. It was red and had green and gold stones that glittered in the light.

He slipped it over Toby’s head.

Toby was going home.

“C’mon, boy,” the man said. “Cute and adorable, you are. Lots of life left in you, fella.”

As Toby placed one paw outside the kennel, he stopped for just a little. Lowered his head for just a little. Glanced behind him for just a little.

The man looked at Emmett, and Emmett looked at the man.

“That one, too, if it’s OK,” the man said. “Looks like a set I’d hate to break up. My home may be a bit small, but my heart is big enough.”

The woman in the blue shirt took the ring and slipped it over Emmett’s head.

And that’s when Toby knew Christmas miracles do happen.

Emmett wagged his tail and spun in a circle and barked. Just as if he were a puppy.

From “Toby and the Christmas Ring,” copyright 2008, by Scott Craven

Source – Life with Dogs at:

When a bag of kittens was dumped and run over in traffic on a rural Iowa highway, a dog named Reagan rushed to their rescue.

Iowa’s Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary is home to two kittens who owe their lives to Reagan. Three months ago her owner called the sanctuary seeking help after pulling two live kittens out of a Meow Mix bag that her dog had found in the road.



“It was gruesome, quite gruesome because the kittens…there was a litter of 4 or 5 of them and you couldn’t tell if there were 2 or 3 (in the bag) they had been run over by a vehicle. It was not a pretty sight,” said Linda Blakely of the Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary.

The fact that Skipper and Tipper even survived is difficult to explain, but one thing is certain: had Reagan not found them, they likely would have died on the spot. The yellow lab literally dragged the bag out of the road. Then she dragged it all the way home. And cried until her owner opened it. Reagan’s owner could hear faint cries from the bag, but said she was completely unprepared for what she found.

After recovering from the shock of finding the kittens in that bag, Reagan’s owner called the sanctuary and brought them in. They were weak and required bottle feeding every few hours, but both have recovered fully and are thriving at the sanctuary. They are also available for adoption. Blakely says they probably never would have made it off that road were it not for the love of a dog.

“The instinct of the dog was to nurture and not kill. With all the blood some dogs would have responded to the scent. Reagan the dog is a hero,” says Blakely.



These are the dogs that worked the Trade Center that are still alive but retired, they are heroes too!!!  Their eyes say everything you need to know about them.  Just amazing creatures!

True heroes of 9/11 still with us today…

Moxie, 13, from Winthrop, Massachusetts, arrived with her handler, Mark Aliberti, at the World Trade Center on the evening of September 11 and searched the site for eight days.


Tara, 16, from Ipswich, Massachusetts, arrived at the World Trade Center on the night of the 11th. The dog and her handler Lee Prentiss were there for eight days.

Kaiser, 12, pictured at home in Indianapolis, Indiana, was deployed to the World Trade Center on September 11 and searched tirelessly for people in the rubble

Bretagne and his owner Denise Corliss from Cypress, Texas, arrived at the site in New York on September 17, remaining there for ten days

Guinness, 15, from Highland, California, started work at the site with Sheila McKee on the morning of September 13 and was deployed at the site for 11 days.

Merlyn and his handler Matt Claussen were deployed to Ground Zero on September 24, working the night shift for five days

Red, 11, from Annapolis, Maryland, went with Heather Roche to the Pentagon from September 16 until the 27 as part of the Bay Area Recovery Canines

Abigail, above, was deployed on the evening of September 17, searching for 10 days while Tuff arrived in New York at 11:00 pm on the day of attack to start working early the next day

Handler Julie Noyes and Hoke were deployed to the World Trade Center from their home in Denver on September 24 and searched for five days

Scout and another unknown dog lie among the rubble at Ground Zero, just two of nearly 100 search and rescue animals who helped to search for survivors

During the chaos of the 9/11 attacks, where almost 3,000 people died, nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.

Now, ten years on, just 12 of these heroic canines survive, and they have been commemorated in a touching series of portraits entitled ‘Retrieved’.

The dogs worked tirelessly to search for anyone trapped alive in the rubble, along with countless emergency service workers and members of the public.

Traveling across nine states in the U.S. from Texas to Maryland, Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas, 34, captured the remaining dogs in their twilight years in their homes where they still live with their handlers, a full decade on from 9/11.

Their stories have now been compiled in a book, called Retrieved, which is published on Friday, the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Noted for her touching portraits of animals, especially dogs, Charlotte wanted ‘Retrieved’ to mark not only the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, but also as recognition for some of the first responders and their dogs.

‘I felt this was a turning point, especially for the dogs, who although are not forgotten, are not as prominent as the human stories involved,’ explained Charlotte, who splits her time between New York and Amsterdam.

‘They speak to us as a different species and animals are greatly important for our sense of empathy and to put things into perspective.’



Labbie School?

Petty Officer Jon T. Tumilson was laid to rest Friday in Rockford, Iowa, where an estimated 1,500 mourners came to pay respects for the fallen Navy SEAL, including his dog Hawkeye. In fact, Hakeye’s loyalty to his owner at the funeral was visible, creating a heart-wrenching image as he laid down by the casket of his owner during the entire service … full story

credits to: The Blaze Posted on August 23, 2011 at 1:25pm by Christopher Santarelli

Guest Article

From ,

The “dog days” of summer are coming to a close as back to school is upon us. We spend much time preparing our children (and ourselves), yet this transition also affects our pets.The freedom and attention received during summer vacation abruptly ends at the first day of school. Without warning, schedules shift – coming and going, eating, exercising, freedom may be limited and human companionship lessens. Human playmates of summer suddenly have new interests and friends. All of this can create a great amount of stress and fear in our pets.

This stress adds uncertainty and affects our pets in many ways. It can cause behavior problems such as chewing, soiling in the house, excessive barking with dogs or clawing furniture with cats.

These problems can be annoying to us, but more serious health problems can also occur with your pet. The distressed pet may experience vomiting, diarrhea, skin problems or eating problems. Eating problems may range from not eating at all to eating strange objects such as gravel, dirt, plants, toys, etc. This can lead to emergency medical problems as these objects can easily get caught in the intestinal tract.

Emotionally, pets can also suffer from depression. This can lead to a depressed immune system leading to increased susceptibility to arthritis, heart disease and even cancers.

What can we do to help these important members of our family? If possible, make changes and adjustments slowly, over a period of time. If Fido will be kenneled when the kids go back to school, start kenneling slowly for shorter periods of time before the big day. Also be sure to provide toys or chew sticks to help occupy their time alone.

Avoid abrupt changes especially in eating and diet habits. The first week of school is not the time to change either the time of feeding or type of food. Always be cautious when making any drastic changes to a pet’s diet and talk with your veterinarian.

For pets that become overly stressed when being left, there are several holistic remedies available. Bach Flower Remedies are quite commonly used. Aromatherapy can also be useful. Lavender essential oil for example can safely be used around pets to help with calming.

And finally, give your pet the most love and attention you can. Reassurance through regular walks, exercise, playtime and grooming will help your companion make a much smoother “back to school” transition.

Marian Brown is the editor of Holistic Health News and has been involved in holistic health care for people and pets since the early 1990s.



Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.  I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid. As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today. Sometimes the overworked shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

by Janine Allen

The four-legged answer to a young mother’s prayers.

By Claire Guthrie, Manassas Park, Virginia

“We’re getting a dog! We’re getting a dog!” the kids chanted from the back of our car on the way to Pennsylvania to pick up Rosie, our new Lab, from her foster home. I glanced back at my teenager, Aaron, his younger sister, Rachael, seven, and brother Joshua, five, who hadn’t stopped talking about Rosie since we’d pulled out of our driveway in Virginia an hour before. Only my two-year-old, Michael, was silent.He was just as excited, but he couldn’t join in with the chatter of his siblings. I felt a familiar ache in my chest, knowing how badly Michael wanted to join in, and knowing it was impossible. It was a pain I felt often, ever since we found out about Michael’s condition.I knew something was different about Michael at six months old. Josh and Rachael walked and talked early. But our otherwise healthy-looking baby boy had trouble even crawling; Michael couldn’t roll over and he couldn’t sit up without toppling.Even more troubling, he never developed baby talk. I wondered if he’d ever speak. His brother Aaron has cerebral palsy, and I feared Michael might have a disability too. In fact, Michael was diagnosed with dyspraxia, a developmental disorder that makes it difficult to perform complex movements.Michael’s trouble with speaking was part of that disorder, called Childhood Apraxia of Speech. He wanted to speak, but his mind just wouldn’t let him.Even now, at two years and three months, he still couldn’t say much more than “mama” or “dada” when he wanted us for something. And often, we couldn’t understand what he wanted. His speech therapist helped us teach him some basic sign language. Even that was hard for him. A few days earlier, Michael tried to ask me for something, but he couldn’t form the signs. Instead, he began gesturing wildly.“I’m sorry, Michael. I don’t understand,” I told him. His face turned a deep shade of red; he went into a tantrum, letting out a high-pitched scream. I felt so helpless. My baby was hurting—and I couldn’t do anything for him.I looked in the rearview mirror back at Michael, who was staring out the window. This dog, I hoped, would be something he could enjoy. My husband, Doug, and I had done our research. We looked for a Labrador, a breed known to be good with kids. A young dog, so it could grow up with our children.We found Rosie on the website for a Lab rescue agency. A 14-month-old chocolate Lab, with experience around babies, children and cats. All of our “dream dog” qualities. But would she be right for our family? Was I wrong to hope? Finally we pulled up to Rosie’s foster home.I silently prayed, Please, God, let Rosie be right for our kids…especially Michael, but don’t let me hope for too much.Doug lifted Michael out of his car seat while I went to the door with the other kids. “You must be here to see Rosie,” the woman said. And there Rosie was, standing in the foyer, tongue hanging out, her tail wagging wildly. Aaron, Rachael and Joshua ran up to her.“Rosie, you’re so beautiful,” Rachael said, ruffling her smooth fur.“Hi, Rosie,” said Aaron, scratching her behind the ears. Love at first sight, I thought.But what about my two-year-old? Michael ambled over. He patted her gently on the head. Rosie nuzzled against him. I breathed a sigh of relief.I was about to follow the woman into the other room to talk to her about the dog when I heard a voice, an unfamiliar voice. “Rosie,” the voice said, strong and clear. “Rosie!”It was Michael.I looked at Doug, my mouth agape. “Rosie!” he said again, nuzzling against the dog. Now, Doug and I were the speechless ones.Rosie sat in the back with the kids on the way home. “You’re going to love our house, Rosie Pops,” I said. The kids loved the nickname. The whole ride back, that’s what we called her. We were about halfway home when Michael spoke again. “Rosie Pops,” he said. One word was amazing enough, but two words together? In one day? Doug and I chalked it up to Michael’s excitement. Don’t get your hopes up, I reminded myself. How often had I seen progress when there was none? God, I prayed once more, make this dog a good fit for our family.But I calmed down when I saw Michael laughing. He pushed off the carpet and stood, following Rosie again as she raced around the room. I watched more closely. Rosie wasn’t being reckless. Every time she nudged Michael, she did it gently, almost as if she were testing him. And each time he fell, she waited by his side, studying him until he rose to his feet. It was a little game they were playing. A game Rosie was using to learn things about Michael.A few days later I was folding laundry, watching the kids play with Rosie. Michael stood next to her, petting her as she rubbed up against him. Then, without warning, she jumped, and Michael lost his balance. I watched in horror as he fell over. I dropped everything and rushed to him.The next night, at dinner, Michael shocked everyone when he said “juice.” Right out of the blue! A day later, he said “dog.” It’s hard to describe the astonishment that took over our house. Over the next few weeks, he added more words: candy, cookie, car. He was also becoming less clumsy—rarely stumbling. His speech therapist was baffled. “Kids with apraxia don’t progress like this,” she told me.I was baffled too. I went on an apraxia website and e-mailed for information. “Is there anything about dogs helping kids with apraxia?” I asked. Yes, as it turned out. Studies found the stimulation a dog brings can awaken muscles necessary for speech and other bodily movements. Each time Michael laughed, fell and got back up again, his brain was busily connecting the dots between his muscles and his actions. Now I knew why he was improving.I went up to tuck Michael into bed. He was exhausted from playing with Rosie all day. I pulled the blanket up to his chest and gave him a kiss. Michael moved his lips.“Luv vu,” he said. Did he say that? Michael spoke again. “Luv vu,” he said.I wrapped my arms around him. “I love you, Michael,” I whispered through my tears. “I love you too.” I shut off his light and headed to the living room. Rosie lay curled up by the TV. I stroked behind her ears and told her what a good girl she was. She was teaching Michael so much—and me as well. God answers prayers in many ways. This time he chose a dog to answer ours. Hope comes in many forms, and I must never forsake it.Excerpted from Their Mysterious Ways Too, Copyright © 2011 by Guideposts. All rights reserved.

Hi all!  Click  the picture for a great story about our very own Rigel, and his journey to safety, surgery, and finally … HOME!

And join Luvin’ Labs on the Santa Fe Scoop, a blog for animal lovers!

Santa Fe Scoop


Lab Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary in the Top Spot,
While the Bulldog Continues Its Ascent to Reign Supreme in the Dog World

The American Kennel Club (AKC®) announced its nationwide registration statistics today, revealing that for the 20th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in America.
This year’s list included some shakeups in the top 10 – the Beagle overtook the Golden Retriever for the 4th spot and the Bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the Boxer, who dropped to 7th in 2010.
“Not since the early 20th Century has the Bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered Bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

2010 Most Popular
Dogs in the U.S.
2009 Ranking
1. Labrador Retriever 1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog 2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Yorkshire Terrier 3. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Beagle 4. Golden Retriever
5. Golden Retriever 5. Beagle
6. Bulldog 6. Boxer
7. Boxer 7. Bulldog
8. Dachshund 8. Dachshund
9. Poodle 9. Poodle
10. Shih Tzu 10. Shih Tzu

Cancer-Sniffing Dog Makes Accurate Diagnoses

There’s a new cancer-sniffing dog on the scene. With the help of her trusty tennis ball, she’s outperforming medical lab tests.

Marnie, an 8-year-old black Lab, was trained by Japanese scientists to detect colorectal cancer by smelling the breath of a patient with cancer and then of healthy participants.

When she identified the cancer sample, she was given a tennis ball, according to AOL Health.

Marnie has performed with up to 98 percent accuracy while some current tests like the fecal occult blood test, are right only 10 percent of the time, according to the Huffington Post.

Although dogs aren’t regularly being used in a clinical capacity just yet, they have recognized melanoma, bladder, lung, breast and ovarian cancers in the past. Perhaps Marnie will lead the way for a new breed of medical personnel.

A few sugar-free Tic Tacs, a pack of Trident gum, a spilled tin of Starbucks mints, a sugar-free Jell-O dessert cup. It takes only a little of this toxin to send a dog into hypoglycemia-induced seizures and sometimes fatal liver failure. All dogs are susceptible, some more than others. Indeed, it has been calculated that as little as a gram of sweetener can kill a 10-pound dog.  For more information please click for the full article here

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Charlie (yellow) and Kona (chocolate) both Luvin’ Lab alumni and adopted by one of our fabulous fosters share a pillow pet ….

can we say “aww”  : )

Yesterday afternoon, one of our worst calls … and I’m sure even worse for the family to make…

Our beloved Sampson and Delilah, now Sam and Emma, were lost while their forever family was up cutting their Christmas Tree in the Jemez forest.

Samspon and Delilah came to us from the Roswell Animal Shelter, where a rescue there pulled them for us the day they were to be euthanized.  They are the sweetest, kindest, most loving dogs … both totally embodying the undying ability of dogs to love unconditionally.  An obvious breeder pair kept in a small pen, Sam was starved so that his Delilah could eat, and feed the puppies they’d so obviously recently had.  Both had pressure wounds from being in a pen, dumped at a kill shelter when they were no longer “wanted”, and saved in the nick of time.  A sister rescue transported them here to Albuquerque where we worked with our fosters to get both spayed and neutered, then into seperate foster homes to recover, and eventually, blessedly, placed together in the same loving home.  A long story, but a lot of loving folks helped Sampson and Delilah on their way to their forever home …

Their family made herculean efforts to find their Sam and Emma, and as soon as we were notified all of our volunteers and supporters began networking to try and help.

And best of best news … yesterday around 5pm …Sam and Emma HOME and SAFE!!! … here’s their story.  Thank you to everyone for your amazing networking and quick help … we are so appreciative of each and every one of you!

from their mom … ” The dogs are home safe and sound.  A lovely couple found them on NM 126 east of Cuba; as best we can figure from the map, they did something that defies logic–they ran north over a steep ridge instead of down the valley or even up the valley or over the ridge that leads into the La Cueva valley.   They met up with NM 126 past Fenton Lake and then ran toward Cuba.  We think they covered at least 20 miles.  They are very tired and their paws are sore, but they have no other injuries.  They were very hungry and we are feeding them small amounts at a time.   They also drank a fair amount of water, though they probably had water on their journey from the Rio las Vacas. They seem very content on their cushy beds in a warm house”

There’s a big lesson here folks, and one we try to convey to each and every adopter … now we will try even harder.  DOGS WILL BE DOGS … PLEASE DO NOT EVER LET YOUR DOGS OFF LEASH! You cannot blame a dog for being a dog, and chasing a rabbit or a butterfly or a wonderful scent.  Our job is to keep them SAFE from harm which translates into keeping them with you.   No matter how well they respond to you, how well trained they are, what a good job you’ve done with them, how much you love them and how loyal they are to you you cannot take the instinct out of an animal … they will still act like dogs and run and play.  PLEASE keep your pups safe. A note from the family will be following soon, showing their heartbreak, and guilt, and loss at a very human, very simple, never forgotten mistake.

From all of our packs to your pack …. We wish a you a Happy, Blessed, Safe Holiday Season!

– All of us at Luvin’ Labs

Meet our Cocoa … now known as Koki by her beloved family.

Cocoa came to our rescue a long time ago after being resuced by Golden Retriever Rescue of El Paso with her sister.  Cocoa and her sister Lacey were at the El Paso shelter, they were saved and put into boarding.  Boarding and foster and boarding and foster and somehow poor Lacey became ill with distemper.  Poor Cocoa nursed her sister and eventually lost her.  She came to Albuquerque and we placed her in what we thought was a loving home, only to have her adopter dump her at the Valencia County Shelter where shelter workers called and we had a volunteer pick her right up.  Cocoa then went back to her foster home and evenutally went home to Ivy, her loving forever home where she is able to go to work with her mom.

Beautiful Lacey

Ivy and her hubby started fostering for Luvin’ Labs.  Their first foster was our boy Coby, badly in need of a loving home and care after his surgery.

Our two legged hero’s?  Ivy and hubby for taking in Coby and the big commitment of caring for a recent amputee.

Our canine hero?  Koki and her tlc and love that helped Coby to know that life as a three legged dog was worth living, and that even tho he was in pain he could still enjoy loving and play.

Thank you Koki, you’ve taught us that despite losses and hardship and pain the ability to continually give is the biggest gift of all ….

love ya girl …..

all of us at Luvin’ Labs

first Saturday or every month I have an employee meeting, tradition is I bring the boys home donuts.

I came home, one particular Saturday, put the donuts on the counter, went to switch out laundry and West came in to talk to me.

We went back to the kitchen and on the counter is one of Jericho’s stuffed ducks.

We didn’t think anything about it for a bit, but Jericho loves to “trade” with you for toys, food etc …

Grabbed the donuts, looked inside …

the little bugger opened the box, grabbed a donut, shut the box and left us a duckie as payment  : )

They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street.  But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did.
But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls — he wouldn’t go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn’t really think he’d need all his old stuff, that I’d get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn’t going to. I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like “sit” and “stay” and “come” and “heel,” and he’d follow them – when he felt like it He never really seemed to listen when I called his name — sure, he’d look in my direction after the fourth or fifth time I said it, but then he’d just go back to doing whatever. When I’d ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.
This just wasn’t going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell. The friction got so bad that I couldn’t wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the “damn dog probably hid it on me.”
Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter’s number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter…I tossed the pad in Reggie’s direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I’d seen since bringing him home. But then I called, “Hey, Reggie, you like that? Come here and I’ll give you a treat.” Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction — maybe “glared” is more accurate — and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down. With his back to me. Well, that’s not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number.  But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too. “Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”…. …..
____________ _________ _________ _________

To Whoever Gets My Dog: Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. If you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time… it’s like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong…which is why I have to go to try to make it right.  So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.  First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after it, so be careful – really don’t do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.  Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones — “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals: “back” to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and “over” if you put your hand out right or left. “Shake” for shaking water off, and “paw” for a high-five. He does “down” when he feels like lying down — I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.  I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.  Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.  He’s up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car — I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.  Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new.  And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you….  His name’s not Reggie.  I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine. But if someone else is reading it, well … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you problems.
His real name is “Tank”. Because that is what I drive.
Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with … and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq , that they make one phone… call the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.  Well, this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly, I’m just writing it for my dog. I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family … but still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.  And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.  That unconditional love from a dog is what I take with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things …. and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I have to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.  All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.
Thank you, Paul Mallory”

____________ _________ _________ _________

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.  I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.  “Hey, Tank,” I said quietly.  The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright. “C’mere boy.”  He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months. “Tank,” I whispered. His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him. “It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek. “So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again. “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?” Tank tore from my hands and disappeared in the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy
Take naps
Stretch before rising
Run, romp, and play daily
Thrive on attention and let people touch you
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do
On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie in the shade of a tree
When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk
Be loyal
Never pretend to be something you are not
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close, and nuzzle them gently

Here’s our new little one …

Sleeping with the big boys

Big brother love …

aren’t I cute??


JJ’s stories had me rolling for two days.  He is a 2 1/2 year old white lab that acts soo much like my Jericho. From his owner … “…I have stories like yours about the destruction of a lab pup. Sprinkler system chewed up and dug up, cords of lamps chewed through, socks, shoes, pillows, books, etc.. JJ is a pick pocket and then he loves to have you chase him aroung after he has done so. One day at the dog park he stole a womans cell phone and it took me 20 minutes to get it because people would not quit chasing him. Also, stole a man’s hamburger!!!”  Labs add so much to our lives, companionship, love, loyalty and let’s not ever forget, like they’d let us, levity!

Zeb was on our site and adopted under the name Scout!

“a lab is such a good friend, and can do almost anything with you!”

how’s this for too much cuteness??

Jericho is our big, yellow 2 year old perpetual pup who has slowly helped us renovate our house.  He is an expert at removing plumbing, cables, screen doors, sheetrock, insulation, and he even cleans floors nightly with his evening baths – sometimes he even waits until I am finished!  Jericho is a perpetually happy, loving, sweet affectionate young lab who adores all of the 100 toys in the toy box (six in his mouth in the picture).  He is my constant companion, co pilot in the car, warm shoulder to cuddle up against, and day long hiking companion.  Jericho is the epitamy of a young lab, living each day with endless exhuberance and joy.

Fozzy Bear is our alpha male in our pack.  He came to us when he was about 6 weeks old, already imprinted with a fear of humans.  With years of patience and love our husky mix alpha is comfortable with his own family, and learning to be okay with some of his regular visitors.  Fozzy is very playful and loves to stand up and stretch his legs out on you.  His favorite toys are tennis balls!

Buddy is our big goofy yellow lab.  Buddy came to us a year ago from the Clovis shelter via a very special animal advocate in the area.  He weighed 64 pounds and was severly undernourished.  Buddy has had tons of medical issues.  His ears were so infected when he first came home that it took almost a year to clear them up.  Unfortunately the constant ear infections resulted in his eardrums being eaten away.  Buddy also was in some sort of accident that left his left rear leg an inch shorter than the rest, the femur healed at a ninety degree angle in the wrong direction and he will eventually require surgery.  After months of TLC, veterinary care and good holistic nutrition Buddy now is a bouncy, 100 pound 2 year old!  He is our biggest lap dog, our biggest goof, and the pup most attached to me at the hip all the time.  Buddy, thank you for choosing our home as yours!  You make us laugh daily, and you warm my side nightly!

Cocoa Puffs is our pretty girl.  She is the only girl in a pack of 5!  Cocoa came in to our lives at a time when my youngest was having bad dreams and he wanted a protector and friend.  Our cuddly girl is our protector, friend, recess monitor for the 3 two year olds we have, and my son’s best friend.  Cocoa loves to play, and loves to watch tv sitting on the couch like a person.  The picture below is of Cocoa and her best friend Dawhoo, who we lost over a year ago.

Sammy came to us when he was 8 months old from the Albuquerque shelter where he was in danger.  He was a very shy little boy covered by cigarette burns all over his ears, and very scared.  Sammy had obviously been abused as a young pup and with tlc and patience he has come so far out of his shell we now refer to him as the General.  He is the smallest of our dogs, and as such thinks he has to bark louder, move quicker, and be pushier than anyone else.  But, come to cuddling time, Sammy is the cuddliest of them all!