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The Girl…

How I Got Here!

When I was a little girl (10 or 11) my God-Sister and her husband purchased a chocolate Labrador Retriever, Sable. Sable was field trained and listened better than any child I knew. I actually remember Sable as a puppy and the first time I met her, she left such an impression. I knew someday, (because of the wonderful ambassador of the breed she was) that I would have my own Labrador Retriever. I was instantly in love with this beautiful water dog!!! Sable was a lot of things to a lot of people, least of all a dog. I know there is a special place in the hearts of many people she touched and always will be.

Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. ~ Roger Caras

Fast-forward ~10 years

Classified newspaper advertisement by the local SPCA; “We need good homes and good names” A pile of lab mix puppies in the black and white photo, obviously not the 100% true Lab I longed for, but I would go look at them on the following Monday evening just the same. There was a male and a female left, the male barked with his paws up on the side of the door trying to figure a way out of the kennel and the female just sat there quietly – evaluating me I think. She had my heart and a new home, her name is Morgan and 15 years later, my angel is still here with me. My soul-mate, Morgan and I have been through so much together. I’m not sure at times how my life would’ve turned out without that black coat to cry into when I needed to, I will never be able to repay the debt I owe her.

“I talk to him when I’m lonesome: and I’m sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught therat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.” ~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

Fast-forward ~10 years

A stray yellow lab wondering our neighborhood crosses the road in front of my SUV like he knew the approaching vehicle and driver. I stop my vehicle as he sits down just far enough away on the passenger’s side that he can make eye contact with me and barks at me, like he’d been looking for me. A gentleman doing yard work where the dog sat asked, “Is he yours?” I reply, “No, he isn’t.” He proceeds to tell me the dog has been hanging out with him eating bacon treats all day and that he didn’t know where he belonged either. Two days later the dog is on our front stoop with a ball in his mouth (We are pretty sure he stole it!) and he never left. No agency had any reports of a missing dog of his description and no one ever came looking for him. A few years later we found out he dog had a police record and that he must have been too much trouble for the original owner. We believe he had likely been searching for a loving family for a while and he blessed every day of our lives that he shared with us. We called him, Harley-Jack! Acquiring Harley led us down a path that shed light for us on the genetic damage backyard breeders and puppy mills do. The long and short, by not doing the work that is needed to be done to insure the breeding lines stay as “clean” as possible, by not breeding to improve the breed, but merely to put some cash in your pocket, you are breaking the hearts of the families that get these puppies and raise these dogs; constantly dealing with health issue after health issue and potentially losing that companion much sooner than they ever planned. We had 4 wonderful years with Harley-Jack before he crossed the rainbow bridge on May 19, 2010 after a hard and bravely fought battle with Mast Cell Tumors (cancer).

“A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He doesn’t care if you’re not smart, not popular, not a good joke teller, not the best athlete, nor the best looking. To your dog you are the greatest, the smartest, the nicest human being that was ever born. You are his friend and protector.” ~Louis Sabin

Fast Forward 2 years

We decide to expand our family, we want another Labrador. “She” is going to be my birthday present!!! I did a TON of research, until my SO was literally “Labradored Out!” He didn’t want to look at another picture, hear about another pedigree, or browse another website, he just wanted me to make my decision and when that was done we would get my puppy…”our puppy.” I didn’t realize that most of the variety of health issues Harley was plagued with from day one could have been alleviated by getting a puppy from a reputable breeder, until I started to do the research to find our new puppy. There are a whole host of genetic disorders that plague Labs that come from puppy mills and backyard breeders (hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, tricuspid valve dysplasia, exercise intolerance with collapse, and there are more.) and there are genetic tests that exist specifically to screen breeding stock of many of these issues. Imagine how excited we were, after our experiences with Harley to find out our new puppy’s chances of suffering through the same fates were extremely minimized, if not in some cases eliminated, because the breeder we chose spent the time, money, and energy needed to produce a genetically sound litter of puppies!!! Endless Mt’s Bella Ragazza (translation of the partial Italian name is simply Endless Mt’s Beautiful Girl)!

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” ~Unknown

So began the journey into the world of genetically sound Labrador Retrievers and the inception of Treasure Keeper Labradors.