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Kingridge Kennels English Labrador Retrievers - Intelligent ~ Calm ~ Beautiful
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The Kingridge 2016 Winter Litter Has Arrived
Three Puppies Have Made Their Arrival
Annie is Starting Into Labor
Adopting Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley
Our Life and New Life

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Homemade Organic Dog Treats
Puppies Out Exploring
Update on Life and Labs
An Overweight Labrador & Smile Challenge #6
Outside for the First Time


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Lab Tails of Kingridge

Children & Pets

Adopting Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley

Sweet and Lovely 'LILY' of the Valley

Kingridge's Lovely Lily of the Valley

As a lover of Labradors and a breeder, some posts are so fun to write, and others are literally almost impossible to type. This is one of the most difficult ones I can imagine. At this point, I feel like my keyboard is covered in Molasses! Choosing to place a dog into a new forever family is always so hard for myself, and especially for my family, but as a breeder it is something that has to be done from time to time to move the breeding program forward.   

It is only after a great deal of  prayer and discussion, that we have decided to retire Lily from our breeding program here at Kingridge. Lily always was, and will continue to be, first and foremost, our family's very special and much loved pet. So, it is with a heavy heart that we have made this difficult decision. She has only had one successful pregnancy after multiple attempts, and as a result we feel it is ultimately best to find a new home for our special girl. 

We have raised Lily from the very start! I remember when she weighed just over a pound and fit in the palm of my hand. She was born out of the Precious Gems of Kingridge Litter. Her mother was our 'Shiloh' and her father 'Calypso' was the Best of Breed winner at both the Westminster and Eukanuba dog shows in 2011. Lily has always lived inside our home and been a very special part of our family. 

We are looking for a loving home with humans who will pamper Lily and show her as much affection as she is used to receiving from us. She is a healthy, happy, 4 1/2 year old yellow Lab, with a stellar pedigree. Lily is terrific with children (she absolutely loves kids) of all ages, cats, and other dogs. She is faithful and oh so gentle, and she loves walks and jogging next to me on the trail. She really is the epitome of the Labrador breed.

We know that another family is going to be thrilled with the addition of Lily into their family, and we are excited to get to talk with them. Lily is being adopted on a companion/pet registration only.  She will come into your home with all of her AKC papers, current on shots, and with a written agreement of  spaying by the new family's veterinarian. She is sure to bless another family as much as she has ours! It's just so hard to share the precious gem that we have found in living life with Lily. 

If you think your home may be a good fit for Lily, please email me directly at or call me at (724)561-9808 so that we can talk more and see if it seems like a wonderful fit for everyone. I think Lily will transition seamlessly into a happy new home, because to love with abundant affection is her nature. Our family, and especially all of my children, will always hold such a special place in our hearts for her. Lily really is a unique and beautiful gem.

Our Life and New Life

Baby Jonah loves life with our Labs.Although things have been rather quiet on the breeding front around here, our life has been anything but quiet. We celebrated a new addition born to our family, and we have been busy enjoying life with our Labs and our little boy. 

We also moved into a new home. We are still in Pittsburgh, but we are living in a suburb to the south of the city. Our home is now within a very short drive of my husband's work, and we had really wanted to lessen the distance of his commute for quite some time.

We are looking forward to all of the joy and wonder that a precious litter of puppies bring, so we do plan on breeding again soon. We just knew, that with all of the responsibility of an infant and moving, we had to take a pause in our breeding program, because we couldn't possibly give enough attention to everybody.

However, the time we have spent focused on our family, while trying to enjoy every little moment with our new baby, has been a tremendous blessing. They all pass by so quickly! We are snug and settled in our new home, and Little Jonah is already 10 months old. As spring bursts forth with new life all around, we too are so thankful for the beautiful gift of new life. 

Life is such a celebration! I hope you and I can take time this Easter to celebrate all of the blessings that have been made possible because of Jesus, and what He chose to do on the cross 2000 years ago. He died so that we might live and have the gift of life... Not just life... But, even more- an abundant life.

Summertime Fun

It has been so warm here in Pittsburgh. Now, I know there are some kind of people who complain anytime the weather isn't 72 degrees with sunny skies, but I am not one of those kind of people. I love the variety of weather we get here in Pittsburgh, and it is one of the reasons why we choose to make this part of the world our home. Our family and Labs have lived here for our entire life, and I think we are all pretty spoiled.
Here in "the burgh" we get cold wonderful winter days filled with snow and ice, autumn days that are brisk and delightful with gorgeous changing foliage, and cool grey misty days that make us appreciate the days of bright sunshine and brilliant blue skies that come with summer. However, these last few days have been down right hot. The dogs are staying inside in the air conditioning, along with the kids and myself. We all enjoy a quick romp of play outside and then it's time to cool off indoors. Thanks God for air conditioning! We all have been enjoying the sprinkler and the pool. The dogs especially are delighted in the abundance of water during these scorching hot days.
As we have been enjoying our summer, we are also actively researching sires for the future breedings that will occur over the next several months. Our black female will be the first to enter into her heat cycle, and then we will breed an all chocolate litter a few months later. If you are currently a family that is on our waiting list, I have sent out a newsletter email highlighting our breeding plans. Please let me know if you did not receive that recent communication.
Everyone is so excited about having puppies in the house again, but we are lazily enjoying this warm summer with just our family and our Labs. I hope you and your families cherish this weather and the laid back pace that tends to accompany these long hot summer days. Take some time for what I plan to do for this afternoon... pour a big glass of lemonade and pick up a good book (one on dog training would be perfect) and just relax. Then, you can take some time to prepare for the arrival of your new Lab puppy, or appreciate the puppy, or full grown Labrador, that you already have in your life. Oh, how I do love summertime!
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Puppy Dove in Pool
Dove is now 15 weeks old, and is enjoying life here with our family. With these warm summer days, she has been playing in the kiddie pool with the kids.

The Love Between a Child & Dog

The love of LabsWe all know that children and animals can have a very special relationship. I know in our home this is the case between our Labs and our kids! Dogs usually form an amazing attachment to their children, and likewise, children bond strongly to their family's special pet. However, the benefits of a family pet go far beyond the formations of simply a strong loving relationship. In the following article by Daniel Goleman, Children and Their Pets: Unexpected Psychological Benefits, one can begin to grasp the amazing effect a dog has on a child's development.
In new research into the bonds between humans and animals, therapists are discovering that pets provide unexpected psychological benefits for children beyond the obvious. And many of the same qualities that make pets beneficial to children make them useful in psychotherapy, from building rapport with difficult-to-reach patients to bolstering the self-esteem of traumatized children.''People have always loved their pets, but now we're discovering specific ways to harness the benefits of being with an animal in psychotherapy,'' said Dr. Samuel B. Ross, executive director of Green Chimneys Children's Services in Brewster, N.Y., where animals are used in treating emotionally disturbed children.For children, a close relationship with a pet has proved of benefit in study after study. For instance, in research with preschool children, psychologists at Oregon State University found that teaching children to care for a puppy enhanced their social skills.
More Cooperative and Sharing
"It made the children more cooperative and sharing,'' said Dr. Sue Doescher, a psychologist involved in the study. ''Having a pet improves children's role-taking skills because they have to put themselves in the pet's position and try to feel how the pet feels. And that transfers to how other kids feel.''
Dogs benefit children in so many ways.Children who were regularly given the opportunity to care for a puppy at their preschool, as well as those with pets at home were found more socially competent. They were more popular, felt better about themselves and were better able to understand other children's feelings.The study was reported by Cindee Bailey, a psychologist at Pacific Lutheran University in Portland, Ore., at a meeting in November of the Delta Society, which promotes research on human-animal links. Conferences of the society have emerged as a main forum for new findings in the field. Just how a pet affects the emotional development of a child depends in part on the quality of home life. A study of 309 fifth graders found that for children who had close, supportive relationships with their parents, pets bolstered self-esteem; the effect was stronger the closer the children were to their parents.
Buffer Against Loneliness
But for children who sufferedfrom emotional neglect, the pets took on another role: confidant and buffer against loneliness. In a sense, the pets became substitute mothers, said Dr. Yolande Michaels, a psychologist in Venice, Calif. Dr. Michaels said that for neglected children, treating their pets as friends in whom they could confide helped the children soothe themselves when upset.The ability of pets to make disturbed children feel better has made animals increasingly common in therapy with children.
In one study of children with severe emotional handicaps, half received normal care, attending standard activity groups. The other half were allowed to play with a dog during therapy sessions. Those who had the therapy with a pet improved on key areas of measurement like the ability to control their impulses and understand others, while those who received normal therapy got worse. The study was done by Barbara Wood, a clinical social worker at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.
My Conclusion
These studies suggest that dogs, by there very nature, help children in ways that are unique and important to their emotional, social, and psychological development. Dogs truly are mans' best friend! This Valentine's Day, lets be thankful for the devotion that out pets show to us, along with the pure love and loyalty that they give so generously. The relationship we develop with our pets is a true gift and leads to so many rewards. Some of the benefits of owning a dog are tangible and obvious; while other benefits are harder to see but are of extreme importance. Thanks to our pets, we can experience all of these blessings and enjoy a rich rewarding relationship with a loyal companion by our side.
Dogs and children are gifts to one another

Amazing Health Benefits of Dogs for Babies

A dog can actually help your family remain healthy!I hope you are all healthy and well this winter. Our family has been fortunate to remain rather healthy in the midst of the nationwide flu outbreak. With 6 children, including our new little guy, we are extra concerned about contracting simple colds and viruses. If one member of our family gets sick, the illness seems to spread quickly from person to person- even with diligent hand washing. So one person with the flu can lead to our whole family being under the weather for weeks.
It seems studies are suggesting that we can attribute some of our good health this winter to our wonderful Labradors. I'm sure you already know how much dogs add to the richness of their owners' lives, but this article mentions some added health benefits that I had never considered for our family. Oh, yet another reason why I love our Labs!!!
According to the Huffington Post,... dogs and cats may not just provide your family with love and constant companionship -- they could also have a powerful effect on the health of children early in life, according to a small new study. New research in the journal Pediatrics shows that children who live in a home with a pet during their first year of life are also more likely to be healthier, compared with kids who don't live in a pet-owning household. "It's more support in a growing body of evidence that exposure to pets early in life can stimulate the immune system to do a better job of fighting off infection," Dr. Danielle Fisher, of St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.,told the Los Angeles Times.
Specifically, kids who had a dog during their first year of life had 31 percent fewer respiratory tract infections than kids who didn't live with a dog, researchers found. Kids from dog-owning homes also had fewer ear infections -- 44 percent fewer than kids from non dog-owning homes -- and needed fewer antibiotics, researchers found. Cats also seemed to have a beneficial effect on kids' health, but not as strong as dogs, the researchers said. "Our findings support the theory that during the first year of life, animal contacts are important, possibly leading to better resistance to infectious respiratory illnesses during childhood," the European researchers wrote. The study included 397 kids in Finland, who were followed by researchers from the time they were born until they reached age 1. The families reported how much contact they had with a dog or a cat on a weekly basis. ABC News also reported on the relationship between the amount of time the pet spent indoors, and the beneficial effect on the kids:
Children who live in houses where dogs are inside less than six hours a day are at lowest risk for respiratory problems. The authors believe it could be because dogs that are inside track less dirt. More exposure to dirt leads to more exposure to different types of bacteria, which can help strengthen the immune system.

Contributing this Christmas through Canines

We've all heard the old adage, "It's better to give than to receive". We readily teach our children this point, yet sometimes as adults we fail to comprehend this truth for ourselves. Well, sacrificial giving is what Christmas is all about... God gave us His Son on that very first Christmas so many years ago. Christmas is, by its very nature, a time for giving with a joyful heart.
In these days that are leading up to the biggest holiday of the year, many people feel moved to share their blessings with others. There are so many ways that we can impact this world around us with our kindness and generosity! The Wall Street Journal just published an article entitled Service Dogs Pick Up Scent of Diabetes Danger this December about the impact Diabetic Alert Dogs (D.A.D.'s for short) are having on the children that they serve. These dogs are being used in amazing ways that are changing the way children with Diabetes are able to live. We have raised Diabetic Alert Dogs puppies in the past and believe strongly in supporting organizations that promote these life-saving dogs to families who are in need.
You may find it in your heart to support an organization that will help supply a special child with a D.A.D. this Christmas, or possibly you will choose a charity of your choice to help those who are in desperate need. We are fortunate enough to be living in a time of bounty in the greatest country the world has ever known. I hope that this Christmas will find many people contributing out of their plenty to change the world's needy. Then they will know that...
  is truly far better to give rather than to receive!

Introducing Our New Baby to the Pack

-Christian Ray-
A sweet new baby joins our family
"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above..." -James 1:17
We are so thankful to the Lord for the newest addition to our family. Our son Christian was born only 2 weeks ago, and is healthy and happy. He weighed a whopping 10 pounds and is our biggest baby yet! All of his brothers and sisters are thrilled to have a new little brother to cherish. 
Our Labs have been so wonderful in adjusting to this new precious presence in our home. They are very delicate around the baby, and we are so fortunate to rest assured - knowing that our dogs are gentle giants. It's amazing how our English Labradors instinctively know to be calm around children and require very little time to acclimate to the vulnerability of an infant.
We do take time to introduce them to the scent of the new baby before their first actual introduction. Here is a link to an excellent article from "Fit Pregnancy" to educate new parents on the best way to promote a healthy start in the relationship between canine and infant. The picture below shows the first meeting between our 3 Labradors and our 3 day old son.
With many other breeds we would not feel so confident in our children's security, but we are so comfortable when it comes to the disposition of our Labs here at Kingridge. Of course, we use common sense and do not allow our dogs time alone unsupervised with the baby. But our dogs fit in perfectly with a growing family, and we feel truly blessed indeed!
Introducing the new baby to our Labradors for the first time

Update on Life and Labs

It's about time I posted some current information about our life and Labs! We are continually amazed at how quickly time passes. Our family is expecting a new little blessing any day now, and because of all of the wonder that is involved in welcoming a baby into the world, we have taken a short time off of breeding. This will enable us to concentrate fully on enjoying life with our new precious baby. We are planning to wait until spring of 2013 for our next litter of puppies. That way we can enjoy the first few months with our new little one, and then devote our full attention the needs and training of the puppies when the arrive.
We had quite an eventful summer! The very next day after the spring litter left to go to their new homes, I was running very "pregnantly" through our yard and tripped over a root. How embarrassing! I ended up breaking my foot, and spent 6 weeks in a walking cast. This was difficult to say the least. Then, with family vacations, the start of our homeschooling year, and progressing further along in pregnancy, things only intensified with regard to busyness and exhaustion. So needless to say, I am so thankful that we decided to take a short hiatus from puppy rearing and training!
We are anticipating the birth of our son at literally any moment now... My due date was officially on the 7th of October. We are so excited to be welcoming a new life into this world and into our family! We are also looking forward to the future when we will again be experiencing the miracle of life with a new litter of puppies in the spring!

The Puppies First Water Experience

Our Lab puppy River outside enjoying the sunshineWe have been having such a wonderful time with this litter! The puppies are growing by leaps and bounds. We have enjoyed training the puppies outside with such beautiful weather here in Pittsburgh. Recently, there have been very few rainy days and tons of warm sunshine. I am entering my 3rd trimester for this pregnancy, and I have had a ton of energy... Praise God! As a result, our days have been very full.
Over the weekend we visited Mingo Creek County Park to  allow the puppies to experience the thrill of the water. They took to it like a... well, like a Lab to the water! It was love at first sight. Each of them romped and splashed until they were so exhausted that they fell fast asleep in the playpen that we brought to the park. After all of the that play, they had the longest stretch of sleep that we have witnessed since they were tiny little pups. We tried to take a lot of pictures and video to document all of the fun that you can watch below.
Children LOVE Labradors! This is our guy Clay with one of his many fans.The training has been going smoothly, and this litter seems to follow in typical Labrador fashion, because they are extremely smart and eager to please. They have been enjoying a wide variety of social experiences as well. We have introduced them to cats, other dogs, rabbits, babies, the elderly, and just about every child living within a 1 mile radius. They are the hit of summer break with the kids in our neighborhood. I am confident that these puppies have been loved on, cuddled, and adored by children more than any other group of pups in the entire world.
These puppies are such a blessing to us, and I know that they will be an indescribable gift in the lives of their new families as well. It is hard to imagine that we will only have them in our care for 1 final week. For us, things are drawing to an end with our time together, and yet for the puppies this is just the start of a fabulous lifelong journey with loving humans, companions, and friends. They are just about ready to begin that amazing adventure with their new families!
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Kingridge Kennels Puppies Exploring the Creek
Our Labrador puppies have many opportunities to explore the world around them. This litter visited the creek for the first time today and had a wonderful time experiencing the water. Allowing the pups...

Outside for the First Time

The puppies went outside for the first time today and thoroughly enjoyed their experience. They took their time exploring the sites, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors. They will be 6 weeks old tomorrow and are growing and developing so quickly.
We will begin obedience training tomorrow and are anxious to work with each puppy as they learn new skills. This is a wonderful week in the development of the puppies! They are very curious, and their personalities are blossoming. We are keeping a watchful eye on each one, so that we can recognize the characteristics and traits that determine each pup's individual personality. This upcoming week will be an important time to observe this litter.
It is definitely a joy to witness the subtle nuances that make each puppy special and unique!
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Welcome to the World Little Puppies

We have been so busy here with the whelping and care of newborn puppies over the last 24 hours. The birth was exciting and precious. It was an emotional roller coaster filled with laughter, stress, peace, beauty, dismay and tears.
2 of the puppies that were born were stillborns. I did everything in my power to resuscitate them, with attempts to clear their lungs, perform CPR and even mouth to mouth, but in the end... the breath of life was just not in them. We are however, so very thankful for the 6 healthy pups that were whelped. Birth is always an adventure, but the most difficult part is when we experience the loss of life.
It sure does make us appreciate the health and vitality of the 6 precious puppies that remain. They are very full of life and are nursing like champs. Shiloh is caring for them with great love and attention. Each of the puppies is dependent on their mama for everything. They rely on her for warmth, food, and their daily grooming and care. These first few days of life are very critical for the puppies, and we are praying that each remains healthy and grows strong. Birth and life are so miraculous and we are in awe of God who is the author of life!
I have included some pictures and video that document the labor, birth, and first few hours of the puppies life. I sadly miss the 2 puppies that are no longer a part of this litter, but our family is rejoicing at the beautiful gift of life that we were able to witness once again.
Early labor
Early labor
Mama Shiloh is just starting to show obvious signs of contractions and is still in early labor.
Laboring hard
Shiloh is panting and grunting a bit with each contraction at this piont, and we know it just a matter of moments before the first puppy will arrive.
Laboring hard
Ready for puppies
Ready for puppies
This is where the pups go after they are cleaned and have nursed for the first time with Shiloh. This incubator keeps them safe during the birth of subsequent pups.
The whelping pen
Here it is all clean and ready for the first puppy to be born. These absorbtive pads had to be changed frequently during the whelping. Birth is a messy busy! We also use plenty of cozy blankets and towels.
The whelping pen
Pushing stage
Pushing stage
Shiloh's cervix is now dialated and soon she will be ready to push.
First puppy born
A black male was the first little guy in line to present himself to the world. We are thrilled!
First puppy born
Sweet introductions
Sweet introductions
With each pup's arrival, Shiloh helps to clean and stimulate them for a pleasant welcome into the dog world. I helped out too, but tried to allow nature to work in the beautiful way that it is intended.
First Meal
After the pup is cleaned, the cord is tied, and notes are taken, we encourage them to nurse promptly.
First Meal
Little miracle
Little miracle
Each puppy knows exactly what to do. They appear quite content as they experience their first taste of milk.
Supportive onlookers
Here our littlest child looks on as she witnesses the puppies nursing snuggly beside their mama. All of our children visited the whelping throughout the evening.
Supportive onlookers
Another puppy
Another puppy
Here is a gorgeous little boy that was born about an hour after his brother.
Whelper helper
Here is my sister who provided a lot of help during the birth. Because there is so much to do during whelping it is a good idea to have many hands on deck.
Whelper helper
Pups in the incubator
Pups in the incubator
The red tint cast on the puppies is from the heat lamp that warms the puppies to approximately 95 degrees. It is very important that they do not become chilled.
More puppies
While I was working with the other pups we kept the puppies who were already born in the incubator. As you can see they each have their ribbon so that we can tell them apart.
More puppies
Our little princess
Our little princess
This is the only surviving girl in the litter. She is also the smallest and already she has claimed the hearts of all of my children.
Handsome guy
The boys sure outnumber the girls. We now have 4 black boys, 1 yellow boy, and 1 yellow girl.
Handsome guy
Happily nursing
Happily nursing
All of the puppies are enjoying nursing with Shiloh. The mother has a rich supply of cholostrum that is amazingly beneficial to each puppy for the remainder of their life.
Nurse... nurse... nurse
We encourage the puppies to nurse often and for long periods of time. At this point all the puppies do is nurse, sleep, and nurse some more :)
Nurse... nurse... nurse
One content mama
One content mama
Shiloh is relaxing after all of the hard work. She had a very long and demanding labor, and is enjoying some much needed rest. She will rest along with the puppies for the next few days as she recovers and tends to their needs.

Happy Easter from our Family to Yours

We hope you all are enjoying a wonderful Easter Day with your family and friends. May the love of Christ fill your hearts and your minds with His goodness today and throughout the coming year. Our family just saw this animated video clip at church this morning and thought it was something worth sharing. May you treasure the hope of the cross. Happy Easter... Christ is risen indeed!

Two Peas in a Pod

Puppy Peas in a podWe have been enjoying the month of January with a lot of relaxing and down time. After the holidays and with all of the chilly weather it is nice to mellow out and turn our focus inward. Shiloh and Lily have been having a wonderful time romping around together in the snow, in the rain, in the dirt, and of course in the mud.
They are best buddies, and I wonder how Shiloh ever existed in our family without a jovial daughter by her side. Lily is growing larger and is maturing with grace. She is extremely smart and is very mature for a 4 month old puppy. We are all entertained by her mannerisms, and watching her and Shiloh play captivates the children's attention with as much awe as one of their favorite television shows. They are absolutely adorable together!
Mama Shiloh sleeping with daughter Lily here at Kingridge Kennels
Snuggling Labrador Buddies

The Best Christmas Gift!

Lily our precious puppy. Our gift under the tree
Lily is a Sweet Lab with a Great Love of PeopleChristmas is just around the corner, and as my children like to remind me, today is Christmas Eve Eve. We have had a busy few weeks with puppy training, and I have not had any opportunity to post about all of the many events. I'm sorry to all of you who had been anxiously checking in to find that nothing new was updated. I had planned on blogging about our schedule here so that you could get a sneak peak into a typical day of ours over these fast few weeks. However, I became so overwhelmed just looking at all of the events and hours spent training, cleaning, feeding, grooming, walking, and letting the pups outside in a 24 hour period, that I didn't sit down at my computer to write. Looking at the list alone made me feel pretty overwhelmed and pinched for time. It was absolute nonstop activity, but it was well worth every busy second!
Ho Ho Ho... this Labrador puppy wishes you a Merry Christmas.We are so proud of the pups in this very special litter. All of the precious puppies will be safely in their new homes by the end of the day today. They have each touched our life in such a lasting way. They have truly been a gift from God! I hope that in turn, they will be a gift to their new families this Christmas and for many many years into the future. We were blessed to have a list for this litter that was filled with wonderful families. I'm sure they will provide awesome homes for each puppy that they have recently welcomed into their lives and homes. I am going to miss them dearly! Although, I can rest in the peace of knowing that they are in the best possible homes and are deeply loved.
Lily the Lab at 10 WeeksWe are excited to be keeping one puppy from the litter to add to our family. Formerly known as Lady Amethyst, we have decided to name our yellow girl"Lily". My children are so happy to be keeping a puppy. They all agree that she is the best Christmas present ever! That is good news, because I am woefully behind on my family's Christmas preparations. So, after the last pup leaves today I am going to go do some serious shopping. Thankfully (like a lot of women) that is an area in which I have a ton of experience :) There may not be as many gifts this year under the tree, but we will have our little Lily. I feel so satisfied though; knowing that we have already given one of the best presents of all... each darling puppy that will bring smiles to countless faces this Holiday season. What a thrilling gift!
Merry Christmas! From one sweet Lab puppy

Happy Halloween!

Shiloh dressed up in her Halloween costumeHappy Halloween from Kingridge KennelsWe all enjoyed a wonderful day here full of festivities and fun. The kids went Trick or Treating, and although it was cold and rainy we had a fantastic time. The children were so excited to dress in their costumes and collect candy. I was amazed at how many adorable dog costumes there were to choose from at the stores! We had a hard time deciding what Shiloh would be this year. We finally decided on a swimsuit. After her recent litter of puppies, Shiloh still had the figure for an "incy wincy teeny weeny orange polka dot bikini that she wore for the first time today"... Sorry, but I just couldn't resist the lyrics to that classic song.
All of the puppies are well over 3 pounds and are nursing like it's going out of style. Shiloh's consumption of food and water has been so great, because the pups are such vigorous nursers... it definitely shows in their growth. Speaking of eating, I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween and treated themselves to some scrumptious candy. I know I had more than enough of my kids' candy, but hey- that's one of the advantages of having five generous little trick or treaters!
Candy for Halloween

Early Labor Signs

Our gang getting ready to meet the puppies.Here are our little ones anxiously awaiting the arrival of Shiloh's little ones! Shiloh is huge and we are sure she is showing some signs of the early stages of labor. She has been panting throughout the night and all day today. She also has been "nesting" by investigating different locations inside and outside of our home to use as her nest- none of which are nearly as nice as her lovely whelping box! We will see to it that ultimately she labors in the home, but it is very common for dogs to go off and find a private secluded area in which to birth the litter. The biggest development is that Shiloh has been refusing food!!! That is a big deal, and it is a very accurate sign that labor should be getting underway within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Shiloh is growing larger with each passing moment.We are trying to get extra rest and tidy up the home so that we can devote our undivided attention to the whelping and first days of life for each of the puppies. Their most vulnerable time is right after birth. The pups are small and helpless with little ability to regulate their own body temperature. We will be encountering many sleepless nights ahead... so now is the time to get some rest and prepare for the big event. I think I am nesting just as much as Shiloh!
Shiloh resting in the laundry that I am trying to get done before the puppies arrive!We have been taking Shiloh's temperature twice a day for the last few days, and although she is showing some signs of impending labor her temperature has not yet dropped as a concrete indicator. I will write more as labor draws closer, but for now I'm going to go tidy up my nest- and then get some rest just like mama Shiloh!

The Satisfaction of Labor Day

Rest for our laborPrecious little baby boyHappy Labor Day! It is a wonderful weekend to relax and enjoy the end of summer. I hope delicious foods, fun with family & friends, and lots of relaxation from your labor are in store for you this weekend. We are doing all of the above along with celebrating our son's 4th birthday. It's hard for us to imagine that he was born 4 whole years ago! I think it's rather fitting that we can celebrate his birth on Labor Day weekend... "Labor" get it? I remember VERY well all of the hard labor that was involved with his birth. Although labor is at times most assuredly painful; any mother would agree that the fleeting pain is well worth the rewards of a precious new baby.
Working in the gardenSoon, our Labrador Shiloh will be experiencing the same sensations of birth as she labors to give life to her new litter of puppies. Celebrating birth is always such a joy! Anything truly beautiful usually has great work involved in its creation. Precious children, neatly weeded flower beds, and sweet well-adjusted puppies are some of the best blessings this world has to offer, yet each needs great care, a lot of hard work, along with love in order to thrive. We are planning a weekend with time to reflect and remember that labor & work produce things that are truly wonderful. The gift of work is a privilige that we each can use to make our corner of the world a lovely, more fruitful place. Even if it means getting your hands dirty, great personal sacrifice, or moments of intense pain, the results of many investments are worth the work involved. So congratulations on all of your daily toiling and may you take deep satisfaction when reflecting on a job well done!

How To Make Your Dog Smile Challenge :)

Summer Fun in the SunOh the summer is such a wonderful time of year! We have been home from our vacation for a few weeks now, and I am finally starting to get back into the swing of things. You've got to love the hot lazy days of summer :) The kids have been having a blast playing outside in the heat, and Shiloh surely is as happy as a lark, jumping through the refreshing sprinkler. 
I thought I would take these warm relaxing days to post some excerpts from a cute little book that we enjoy by Jenny Langbehn, entitled "97 Ways To Make a Dog Smile". The book introduces all kinds of clever ways to make your dog smile... and while your dog probably won't display a full toothed grin, I guarantee they will be smiling in their heart, if you try to apply these principals over the next few weeks. If you own a Labrador you know that they are notoriously happy go lucky dogs anyway. They are motivated by a heart of gold that loves to please! These exercises will lead to even more devotion and love... They are a fantastic way to bond with your best friend, regardless of their breed.
 I will post a selected challenge every few days. I challenge you to prepare yourself and those in your family to take time to play with your dog, and be sure to try to include some of these specific simple exercises in your life. I would love to hear from you if you are playing along with us, as we make it a point to take the time to shower our Lab with specific acts of love and attention. When you perform each exercise, be silly with your dog! Be sure to have loads of fun, and then relax and enjoy these sweltering long days with a happy, sweet, content canine lying lazily by your side.
Happy Puppy on Back#1. LOWER-EAR NOOGIES
"A tried-and-true massage location, the ears are very sensitive sites. At the base of the ear, gently rub your knuckles in true noogie fashion. (To make a noogie, form a half fist with your knuckles sticking out.)"
Langbehn, Jenny. 97 Ways to Make a Dog Smile. Workman Publishing: New York, 2003.

Green Grass, Blue Sky, Brown Paw Prints

Blue skies have been gracing Pittsburgh and our Labrador loves itThe weather has finally been changing here in Pittsburgh and we are so thankful. It seems that we have had a very long cold winter, and spring has- until a few weeks ago- been slow to, well... spring! Recently however we have been experiencing undeniably gorgeous Pittsburgh weather with perfect daily temperatures. Our whole brood has been itching to get outside and take advantage of the blue skies and sunshine so that is what we have been striving to do. It gets busy with puppies, school, and housework but days like these don't come around too often here in Pittsburgh. We have to enjoy each one that God sends our way! The only possible downfall that I can even imagine with spring is the wet earth and mud that are left from the heavy spring rains. We are told that the flowers bloom boldly in May because of those April showers, but for Labrador lovers heavy spring rain produces an entirely different result.... Water = Mud!
Most Labrador Retrievers LOVE the water and therefore, they love the mud. If you are the owner of Labrador Retrievers then you know exactly to what it is that I am referring. Water is a Labradors ambrosia! It cools them, refreshes them; it gives them their identity. They are one with the water and the earth... They are Lab!  It seems as deeply ingrained and enjoyable to them as retrieving itself does. Now, thankfully we don't have large amounts of open dirt sitting in our yard that morphs into mud during a torrential downpour every spring season, but what little spots of mud we do have available, quickly 
become favorite attractions, to children and Labradors alike, during the wet Pittsburgh spring. Yesterday, Shiloh was clean, bathed, freshly-scented, and even adorned in a fancy new pink bandanna when the mud beckoned her to come take a quick dip in its warm endless waters. Needless to say, both she and the bandanna needed to be bathed, but that was pure pleasure for her as well because... Bath = Water!
Clean again after a pleasurable dip in the mud (which Labs love)And so the cycle continues. A Labrador loves the water! They were created for it...literally. Their feet are genetically designed with the purpose of swimming through its depths. To always insist that your Lab stay out of the water, mud, bathtub, puddles, (you name it) is to deflate a core part of who they are and what they were created to do. So, as the rains come and the grass turns a vibrant shade of green, I will look at the blue sky and laugh to myself as I notice the brown paw prints drying on the living room floor. I know all to well, that mud washes away quickly; but the memories of a jovial Labrador and her laughing children will echo in the recesses of my mind forever.
Dogs prints to remind me of the joy Labs add to our family.

A La... Homemade Organic Dog Treats

Making homemade organic dog treats for our Labrador in Pittsburgh
Our Homemade Organic Dog Treats
Mixing, rolling, baking and lauging with the kids!
Kingrdige Kennels Homemade Organic Dog Treats in PittsburghBaking homemade organic dog treats in Pittsburgh with children.It sure took longer than we had initially planned to make our homemade organic dog treats! I had such a difficult time finding one particular ingredient that was needed- Oat Flour. My local organic store had every other type of flour under the sun. Seriously, I never knew man could harvest, grind, and sift so many plants that could be passed off as flour. They even had coconut flour... who would have known? Maybe everyone else was aware of all of this variety, but I felt as though I was a kid in a candy store. With my children in tow, we did also end up buying some of the candy in the store. Organic candy- interesting subject in itself... Candy that is good for you? At least that was the rationale the kids used while trying to justify spending $4.00 on a lollipop. We had a wonderful, messy, fabulous time making our own organic dog treats. It was loads of fun and all of the children really got into it. I was shocked at the expense in this endeavor. I am pretty sure our three dozen organic dog treats ended up costing more than a dinner out at some  posh restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh, but hey, you can't put a price on good pure family fun along with a very happy Labrador.
Chocolate Labrador after eating Homemade Organic Dog Treat with children
One very happy Lab... Priceless!

Homemade Organic Dog Treats

Organic Dog Treats is packed full of healthy easy dog-friendly recipes for puppies.I had a birthday just recently and got a fantastic book about making organic dog treats and thought I would give it a whirl. My sister must have gotten a pretty good deal on the cookbook, because it is all about "festive holiday treats". The season is a bit off, although I am sure the dogs will not mind! I honestly think sometimes that we feed our pets better than we feed our families. Seriously, the ingredients that are required sound so good and healthy that I'm pretty sure I could sneak them on the kids' plates for dessert and they wouldn't know the difference. I'm going to the grocery store tonight to stock up on the supplies, and I'll let you know how they turn out.
Here is the first recipe that I am going to attempt with the 'help'...(anyone who is a mom knows that the word 'help' in this sentence doesn't really mean 'help')...of my kids. It actually sounds like a lot of fun to try together as a family. It is on page 29 of The Organic Dog Biscuit Kit from the Bubba Rose Biscuit Company. Just to warn you... your mouth might start watering as you read the list of ingredients :) Mine did!
1 1/2 cup oat flour
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
2 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all ingredients (except the water) together. Add water slowly and mix until a dough forms (if too dry, add more water, too wet add a bit more flour). Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 " thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (for easy clean up), and place the cookies on the sheet (they can be rather close together as they don't grow much while cooking).
Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mommy, Can I PLEASE..... Get a Pet?

My son came to me a few weeks ago and asked if he could PLEASE........... get a pet. Well, I had to consider, because I am very fond of animals and was willing to hear what type of animal he wanted to bring into our home as part of our family. Now, I really like animals- almost all animals, with just one exception. I can't stand snakes. They make my skin crawl! My son could have been asking for a tarantula, cockroach, rat, lizard you name it... but of course, he wants the one animal that I truly dislike, a snake! Now, I do want him to have the opportunity to care for a snake if that is really what he wants as his pet, but I am hoping his desire will wain. Eleven year old boys can be hyper-focused on one thing, and then by the next week something else has come along and they forget all about their previous obsession. That is what I am hoping at least :) Who knows, maybe we will be adding a snake to the family. I don't quite think he or she (can you even tell them apart?) will make it into the family Christmas card, but who knows- maybe I'll change my mind too.