About us and history
We are a small hobby kennel in Wiltshire and we work and show black and chocolate Labradors. Our dogs all live in the house and are very much part of the family. We care very much about the breed and we aim to produce Labradors that conform to the breed standard, are capable of working and are healthy with superb temperaments. Temperament is paramount, as our dogs are expected to squeeze together in a vehicle during the shoot season with other dogs week after week and not a grumble is heard from anyone. Looks are important too as you have to like what you look at every day and our dogs have typical Labrador heads with soft expressions. Our dogs are biddable and the most important thing for us, is not how many awards or prize cards they win but how easy they are to live with.
We bought our first Labrador, a yellow called Lucy in 2001 and she was the reason we fell in love with the breed. The Latin meaning of the name Lucy is Lightbringer and that is how we decided on the name for our kennel affix. Although Lucy was a lovely dog, she was bought as a pet and was not the quality bitch we needed to start our kennel. I had always wanted a chocolate Labrador so after going to shows and doing lots of research, we bought in a chocolate bitch (Hazel) from Gail Dodd of Carriegame Labradors. I had seen her sire INT CH Ole at the Labrador Retriever club centenary show and fell in love with him. Hazel proved to be a super foundation bitch and is behind everything we have today. I will always be grateful to Gail for letting us have Hazel. We kept a black bitch from Hazels first litter (Megan) and then kept a chocolate dog (Bailey) from Hazel's second litter and after proving himself in the show ring, the shooting field and being fully health tested, we decided to stand him at stud. Bailey proved to be a useful sire and he has passed on his superb temperament and good hip / elbow results to many of his offspring. He has progeny in the UK, France, Denmark and Sweden. Several of his offspring are Crufts qualified and one is a Danish champion, while many others are reliable working dogs. We are very proud that six of Bailey's offspring from different litters have gone to Canine Partners to be trained as assistance dogs, while another is a qualified diabetic alert dog and several others are Pets as Therapy dogs. Our bitches are instrumental to our kennel and all have been great mothers. Hazel, Megan, Ebony and Emma have all produced quality offspring that are consistent in type with lovely heads. In 2017, we bred our first completely home bred litter from Bailey and Ebony and kept a black bitch (Emma) who has given us our latest additions - a chocolate dog called Ollie and a black bitch called Maisie. Sadly Lucy, Hazel, Bailey and Megan are no longer with us but without them, we wouldn't be where we are today and I owe them a great deal. I should also thank my husband Andrew who supports all my decisions and helps out when he can.
Working and showing
We show at Open and Championship shows when we can and although we show lightly, we have had some good placings at open and champ shows - including several first places and Best of breed awards. We have qualified six home bred dogs for Crufts in the breed ring and our dogs also qualify to compete at Crufts in the BASC Gamekeepers ring. We are proud that Hazel, Bailey, Megan, Ebony and Emma have all produced offspring that have qualified for Crufts.
Although we enjoy showing, our main passion is working our dogs and we have been picking up with our dogs on various shoots for fourteen years and counting. Most of my proudest moments with my dogs have been when out picking up. A very well respected Labrador breeder once said "Unless you test your dogs by using them for what they were bred for - you will never know if they are a truly sound working dog or just a pretty one". Bailey and Megan worked for six years and we now have Ebony, Emma and Ollie as our picking up team. We are very proud that Megan, Ebony, Rosie and Emma have all been awarded the Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate on game after being assessed working on a shoot day and every older dog we have bred so far has worked on a shoot picking up. Megan passed the Gundog Club Retriever test Grade one, scoring 86 out of 90 marks (a distinction) aged just nine months old. All our older dogs have passed the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - Bronze, Silver and Gold levels and the younger ones have passed the Bronze level. Megan and Lucy have also been Pets as Therapy dogs.
From L to R - Megan WGC on game, Bailey, Ebony WGC on game, Rosie WGC on game (not pictured) Emma WGC on game, Ollie and Maisie (in training)
Breeding and health testing
We only breed a litter when we want to keep a puppy which is usually every couple of years. Our bitches generally have two litters, three as a maximum. All our dogs are hip and elbow scored and eye tested. We test for PRA, EIC, HNPK, CNM, SD2, DM, CYSTINURIA, MCD, CT and STARGARDT disease. We also DNA test our dogs to ensure they don't carry the dilute or long coat gene. This ensures that our dogs and any puppies we breed will never be affected by these conditions which are further explained on the health testing page. We choose stud dogs that compliment our bitches and that hopefully contribute to improving the next generation, while keeping our type and temperament. We are now on our fifth generation and are proud that we have lowered or matched the hip score of four of the previous generations, with two scores of 0.0 and six being the average hip score produced in our kennel. Our puppies go to pet homes, although some are shown and worked and we offer a lifetime of support to our puppy buyers. We will always have a puppy or older dog back if anything changes. We have waiting lists for our puppies and several owners have come back to us for a second or third dog. We like to keep in touch with our puppy buyers and many of them have become lifelong friends.
I am a member of: The Labrador Retriever Club, The Midland Counties Labrador Retriever Club, The Cotswold & Wyevern Labrador Retriever Club and The National Organisation of Beaters & Pickers up.
I am on the C list (KC Level 1) with the Labrador Breed Council as a breed specialist judge and I have been on the committee for the Cotswold & Wyevern Labrador Retriever Club for 8 years and counting. I also enjoy stewarding at Open and Champ shows and help out when I can. I completed my Kennel Club Hands on Assessment Certificate in 2006 (assessed by Mrs Carol Coode) and have attended many Breed specific judging and conformation seminars over the last seventeen years. I have previously been a temperament assessor and regional co-ordinator for the charity Pets as Therapy. I am also qualified to assess the Kennel Club Working Gundog Certificate both on dummies and game.
I am a fully qualified dog trainer (ADTB) with over eighteen years experience running pet dog training classes and I have previously been an assessor for the KC GCDS. For the last nine years I have trained Labradors and other retriever breeds to work in the field. I have picked up with my dogs on both large commercial and small syndicate shoots since 2008 and I sometimes go beating too. I have also completed a first aid course for dogs, specialising in treating working dogs in the field. In July 2020, I completed a canine reproduction course at the CFC in Jarrow and I am fully trained, certified and insured to perform Ai and semen evaluation. Andrew and I are both qualified Microchip implanters. My other passion is National hunt racing and I follow Paul Nicholls each season. Several of my litters have been named after famous jump horses. My favourite horse and jockey partnership is Frodon and Bryony Frost - hence Ollie's name :-)
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