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There is always something happening when you deal with dogs. I have previously introduced you to Queen Smoochy, her brother Blitz, and sister Bliss. They have had the best lives that Keith and Duane and I could provide. They have slept in our vehicles and homes. They have retrieved hundreds of birds. They have eaten a few birds and deer poop (I’ve never understood that fascination) and chased a few rabbits and pack rats. They have patiently sat on ice or in cold water quivering with anticipation of retrieving another duck or goose and giving us “the eye” when we missed our target. They are so much at peace when sleeping by our side or just putting their chin on our knee. I won’t try to explain or exploit our affection and dedication to these dogs and our happy lives in their company. It always gives us a huge heartache when they age so rapidly. Blitz has already passed and his sisters have cataracts, bad hearing, and are becoming unsteady on their feet. It is perfectly fine to get on the couch (sometimes we even give them a boost) and sleep with their head in our lap during the evening news.
I think the inevitability of the aging process makes us get new dogs in hope of the youngsters being able to absorb some of the wisdom of the old dogs. I don’t know if that ever happens, but Smooch and Bliss have met and rolled their eyes at Annie, Ida, and Duke. I am always amazed at the amount of energy and curiosity that is housed in the body of a 6-month-old Labrador puppy. It is fun to watch new owners and puppies adjust to older dogs and owners. The changing of the guard has to be done gently and carefully. Our respect for the elders collides with the necessity to work the youngsters. It is the best part of the day to be able to have Smooch asleep by your side and the exhausted young knucklehead lying on his back snoring his brains out at your feet. We know that these precious moments are fleeting and it won’t be much longer before it will just be one dog doing it the best he or she can and repeating history as we have always done it.
There is a huge amount of decision making involved in choosing a new Labrador. They come in three basic colors-- black, chocolate and yellow. Each color has many shades. There are rough coat and smooth coat. The rough coats usually have a lot of English linage and can tolerate cold water better than the smooth coated dogs. Small labs are built for upland game work. Bigger dogs swim easier in current. They can all chew the legs off your best table or destroy your basement in a much shorter time frame than you can even start to understand. They also shed hair. Your computers and clothes dryer are going to bog down with lots of shed hair. If you don’t like dealing with shed hair then you should get a poodle. It goes with the territory. Mine have always lived with me in the house which was the most important idea for us. I know others have different arrangements.
I was walking in a Kansas City park and saw a lady with a grey appearing 10-12 week old lab. I asked her about the pretty animal and she said it was a silver lab. I asked her if that lab hunted as well as the other labs. She said her dog wasn’t going to hunt so I tactfully ended the conversation. Research proved her to be correct about the breed. There are a couple of designer breeds of labs which are probably from a light chocolate with unusual genetics. It was a pretty, very well conformed Labrador. Most of my buddies own black labs and are very conventional, stubborn and opinionated not to mention closed-minded about their labs. If I were to get another one, I would get a silver. Maybe just to give them something to think about.
It is a never-ending, always changing world when you share life with hunting dogs. No love is so pure and no obstacle to big to keep them from giving you everything they have — just to be with you and bring you a bird. That is awesome!!!

Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.