The Lab is truly a jack-of-all-trades and is a master of many. Most of our puppies become treasured family companions. Some also get to hunt and some have gone on to become service dogs. Many more compete in various venues including hunt tests, obedience, rally, agility, fly ball, nose work, dock diving and even barn hunt.
I also enjoy many of these venues, but at their core, the Lab is a bird dog. And with a last name like Retriever, they darn well better bring back those birds!
Unfortunately the breed has split into two very different types of dogs – the field style and the show style. Sometimes people call them “American” and “English” although I think those terms are rather misleading as there are field type Labs in Europe and American-bred show type Labs.
Some breeders say they are trying to improve the breed. That makes me a little afraid after seeing the “improved” versions of some other breeds, such as the German Shepherd and the Cocker Spaniel. Perhaps they meant they’re trying to improve their own dogs to conform more closely to the breed standard.
I am also trying to improve my dogs, generation by generation. Not by changing the breed, but rather by developing a line that looks more like the classic Lab and has the instinct to retrieve birds and also makes a great family dog.
It’s been nearly 40 years since there was a dual champion Labrador – a dog that could win in the show ring AND win in the field. Most people think it can’t be done anymore. Maybe not. But I know it is possible to breed a dog with good structure, retrieving desire, intelligence, trainability and the personality to make a great family dog.
THAT’s the Dual-Purpose Labrador we’re striving to produce.
To support our favorite breeds, we are members of The Labrador Retriever Club Inc., the Hunting Retriever Club and the American Quarter Horse Association.
I am also an AKC and HRC judge of retriever hunt tests.
Why We’re Called Justamere Ranch
When we first started breeding Quarter Horses, many years ago, we needed a name that would be memorable and distinguish us from our competition. At the time we owned a 5-acre piece of land that seemed too small to be called a “ranch.” However we were inspired by one of our favorite horse trainers, Al Dunning, who had a place not much bigger than ours and who named it “Al Mosta Ranch.” Since we owned just a mere 5 acres it seemed fitting that our place would become Justamere Ranch.
Although we still have a couple of horses, now our time is taken up by dogs – feeding dogs, training dogs, whelping dogs, competing with dogs and, of course, pooper-scooping!
This is a life-long passion for me: starting in 4-H as a kid and continuing through various breeds, including Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, Doberman, German Shepherds and a Dane. I’ve trained and/or competed in field work, obedience, rally, tracking, bench shows, Schutzhund and (way back when) in junior showmanship.
For over 20 years my passion has centered on the Labrador Retriever. I love watching their eyes light up when they get their first bird. It’s as if they’re saying, “THIS is what I was born to do!”
And I love showing off what my dogs can do. If you ever feel like asking about my favorite stories, sit down and get comfortable because I can “talk dog” for hours. Whether it’s about the poison bird water triple in Missouri or the dove hunt in my backyard, or following Chip as he worked his way through a TDX track or putting the first points on a show dog.
Then there are the stories I hear about the Labs who were born here and went on to become fabulous dogs for their new families. I love hearing about them, especially when I get to see pictures too.
I can’t say enough good things about this breed. Companion, hunting partner, competitor, service dog – Labs just know how to make you smile!
Justamere Ranch LLC