Moira helped prevent meltdowns by licking upset hands.
A black Labrador Retriever, Moira visited a group home for young men with disabilities once a week and helped support, comfort and calm the residents there. She is a good example of why this breed of dog is so popular. Labrador Retrievers have been named the most popular dog breed in the United States for the 23rd straight year, a new record, according to the American Kennel Club.
Labs, as they are informally known, are known for their intelligence, loyalty and even temperaments. They are good with children and make great family pets as well as service and therapy dogs. I have owned two Labrador Retrievers, including Moira, and have witnessed what great pets they make and how supportive and loving they can be to the most vulnerable people in society.
Labrador Retrievers got their name from their ability to retrieve game for hunters. However, labs actually started as fishing dogs in Newfoundland. They caught escaped fish and helped fishermen pull in their nets. Eventually, these dogs were bred to setters, spaniels and other retrievers and became experts at retrieving game for hunters, according to the American Kennel Club. Today, many of them still enjoy accompanying a hunter out in the woods.
Labrador Retrievers are great companions. Moira would lie at my feet for hours while I read, watched television or worked on the computer. She loved to go for walks and to play a game of fetch in the backyard.
This breed also excels as a service dog for people with disabilities such as blindness. Moira worked as a therapy dog who visited places such as nursing homes and a group home for young men with disabilities. Therapy dogs provide comfort and support to vulnerable people such as children, the elderly, or people with physical or mental illnesses.
Moira was patient and caring as a therapy dog. She was always calm and relaxed whenever she visited people.
Moira was a big hit at the group home. She helped prevent meltdowns on several occasions. The young men would start to get upset about something. Moira would walk over and nuzzle whoever was starting to get agitated. Her mere presence was enough to calm them.
Sadly, Moira, who was getting on in years, died last year. That’s when I adopted Casey, a big, brown Labrador Retriever who had been abandoned by his owner. It appears Casey, who weighs 130 lbs, grew too big for his original owner to handle. He wound up at our local Humane Society where I met him.
Casey is playful, energetic and affectionate. He’s quick to lick your hand and always eager to go for a walk or go out to the backyard and play.
Casey may be following in Moira’s footsteps and may become a therapy dog himself some day. Last summer, I was in my backyard talking over the fence to my elderly neighbor, who has had several health problems. Suddenly, Casey darted out into the yard. Before I could stop him, he stood on his hind legs and put his paws on my neighbor’s shoulders. Then, he gently licked the man’s face. Casey didn’t jump and seemed to realized how vulnerable my neighbor was. With that kind of patience and affection, it’s no wonder that dogs like Casey are the most popular dogs in the United States.
American Kennel Club
My experiences as a Labrador Retriever owner