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FORGET THE ANDREX PUPPPY - GET THE REAL THING!!!
Author Name: LAURALILIA
Advantages: FANTASTIC FAITHFUL FAMILY COMPANION AND FRIEND
Disadvantages: IF YOU ARE PREPARED FOR THE COMMITMENT - THEN NONE.
I wanted to write about the perfect family pet, as right now Pippa our lovely golden lab is sat faithfully keeping my feet warm on this cold day. She really is a fabulous friend and although she is just under two years old, I dread to think of a time when she won't be here.
We had no intention of having a pet, but my daughter Laura, nagged and nagged for years and it was only in year 5 of school that we finally relented. My husband had had dogs as pets growing up, so he knew what was involved commitment-wise. However, we decided that childhood would not be complete without a loving friend to take out on summer walks and to cheer her up if she felt down.
Due to sneaky ad campaign of Andrex my daughter (and I) would not look at any other breed than the golden Labrador, but of course you are able to get chocolate and black labs also. We purchased Pippa from a renowned breeder (travelled 50 miles) to get her (cost £500) and will never forget the day we brought her home at 7 weeks old. Here is an idea of some of what you need to consider before even thinking about taking on a pet:
Puppy stage -
On arrival home it took us around 2 weeks with lots of effort to fully toilet train Pippa. In retrospect, I would advise using lots of newspaper or toddler trainer mats for accidents. We were worried she would start to see these things as a sign that it was ok to 'go' in the house, but I think that we were wrong and it would have helped with one or two accidents. Be prepared for lots of crying on the first couple of nights, this is heart breaking, but if you want them to have a separate sleeping space, then you need to persevere.
Puppies also have very very sharp teeth, so keep this in mind if you have very young children. Pippa would often nip at the beginning when playing, as she learnt how far she could go.
A crate or a cage is a must. It makes the puppy feel secure if you have to go out and ensures that they do not wander the house at night, when they might fall or hurt themselves. In fact, Pippa loved the security of it, and chose to go there if visitors came. She eventually got too big for it at around 10 months and slowly we began to leave her out of it, if we had to go out.
This is the biggie. Labradors are prone to weight gain and we felt very strongly that she would have enough exercise to keep her healthy, without damaging her legs. Labradors can often have problems with their hips, so too much stress on them is not a good thing. Pippa has a walk of around an hour in the morning and 30 minutes at lunchtime - whatever the weather - and this is a massive commitment. I think that in retrospect we did not need to include a lunchtime walk, but now she expects it and there is no going back.
It is well documented that this breed has a fantastic temperament and it is easy to see why. She is so good with children, gentle and puts up with rough and tumble from my son, but actually seems to enjoy it anyway. The moods that dogs express make them almost human. She sulks if we go out, and is overjoyed when we return. We have been able to leave her for six hours (on one occasion seven) - but she copes well (although she does not eat or drink while we are gone!! - she frets). Best of all if I am watching tv at night she will come and snuggle up next to me on the sofa.
I was led to believe that my house would be destroyed and furniture ruined. I found this to be completely wrong. If you put the effort in then you will be rewarded with good behaviour. The most damage Pippa has done is to chew a school shoe. I think that we were lucky, because my husband works from home, so I think this may be the reason that no damage occurred. She has simply never been bored or lonely. So don't let people put you off thinking that your house will become wrecked.
Grooming and moulting -
She moults, moults and moults again. We have recently moved house and now have a beige carpet and it now seems better. Before we had a dark blue carpet and I was hoovering up three times a day!!! Not good. Just because she has short hair does not mean that there will be no mess. If she is brushed every day, her coat remains healthy and looks good.
We have found an excellent vet which is a must. She needed initial vaccinations and also requires a booster once a year. You can of course get pet insurance these days, but we haven't gone down this road, as we are worried about all the exclusions. We haven't had any costly vet bills yet, but we did have the operation to have her spayed this year. I couldn't believe how fast she recovered - she was running around again the next day!!! I would recommend Beta brand for food as it seems to keep her healthy - we spend roughly £25-£30 a month. She would however eat anything!!!! She begs terribly, but we are strict and for her own health do not give her too much of our food.
Flea and worm treatment needs to be administered regularly and this can work out quite pricey, especially flea and tick treatment (Frontline) which I think needs to be given every four weeks or so. Giving the tablets doesn't seem to be a problem (as I said she eats anything!!!!)
She is a fantastic companion and the Labrador breed for me wins hands down as a family pet. She is definitely a part of her family - I even put her name on Christmas cards! My children will have fond memories of long walks and playing with her as they grow up, I'm sure.
Summary: THE LABRADOR COMES WELL RECOMMENDED - FOR ME THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE!