A Big Surprise

Puppy Pick-Up Day is always a day filled with joy and happiness. On Tuesday, it brought us a delightful surprise in the form of a former professional baseball player, turned professional jazz musician. Imagine our surprise when Bernie Williams, stand-out player for the New York Yankees, and wonderful person all-around, arrived to pick-up a puppy. Actually, Sandy had no idea that Bernie was a celebrity when he arrived. His girlfriend had made all of the arrangements to purchase a puppy and Sandy was delighted to be placing a puppy in her home.

During the course of our pick-up procedure the ‘truth’ revealed itself but, Sandy still had no idea the extent of Bernie’s accomplishments. It wasn’t until Sandy introduce Bernie to Chris and she made the comment, “He played for the Yankees”, that things came into a new light. Chris asked Bernie’s full name and when he heard “Bernie Williams”, his face lit up and he said, “I was a fan”. Chris later told Sandy that Bernie was “one of the good guys” and “an incredible player”. Of course, Sandy started Googling Bernie and that is when we learned he is also an accomplished musician. His music is incredible!!!!

We are delighted with each placement from our most recent litter of puppies but, having made this placement is a little extra special!


Lesson Learned



This is Huck. He’s a pup from our May 2012 Chivas x Bella litter. As with all our puppies, Huck was weaned onto Volhard Dog Nutrition’s NDF2. He was thriving and in excellent health when we was delivered to his new owners. They had concerns about feeding a raw diet to a dog and came to the decision to switch Huck to dry kibble. Huck experienced intestinal difficulties and his owners endured extremely high vet bills trying to get Huck’s gut back in order. After researching raw diets Huck’s owners came to the decision to put Huck back on NDF2 and we are happy to report that he’s doing just fine. Read on for Huck’s story in his owner’s words. Thanks to Jen & Deb for sharing this success story.

We got our Lab, Huck, from Bella’s last litter May 2012.  My spouse and I were new to having a *brand new* puppy as our other dogs were rescued as adults.  It’s been a real learning experience.  When Huck got a bad case of giardia I blamed the raw diet since I honestly knew nothing about it.  I thought at first it sounded weird and unhealthy.  Humans can’t eat raw meat, with all the bacteria and what not in it, so how could my dog?  So when he got giardia, and kept having it no matter how much Flagyl and panacur we put him on, I blamed the raw diet.  We put him on “sensitive tummy” vet ordered kibble and wet food.  He got worse.  By the end of summer we figured out we had treated him for giardia about 8 times and had spent several thousand dollars in vet bills and meds for all 3 of our dogs (the older ones having contracted giardia as well).  I finally realized that meds alone were not going to make my Huck healthy again and that we needed to rethink how we could heal his little gut.

 I did my own research online about a raw diet for dogs and was surprised at how much sense it made.  I read the average time to digest the hard kibble is 10-14 hours and then it dawned on me that Huck was sometimes vomiting up his morning kibble in the late afternoon and it made sense.  How can he have a healthy gut, let alone rid himself of something like giardia, when that stuff is sitting in there all day long?!  It can’t.  A raw diet digests right within an hour to two.  So I made the choice to slowly restart the raw diet using smaller amounts and then gradually building back up to the full amount.  That was about 3 months ago and he hasn’t had a recurence since.  He’s energetic, he LOVES his food (which occasionally also includes bugs and People magazines but we can live with that), his poop is normal, and the vet said he’s the perfect example of a Lab. 🙂  We are quite proud of that one.

 As for how he got giardia, we think it might have been when we took him to a dog park as a puppy.  We thought we were doing the right thing exercising him and socializing him this way but now we understand his immune system wasn’t ready for that quite yet.  Learn from our inexperience and hold off on that until they are ready. 

 Jenny and Deb Armstrong and Huck 🙂



Molly Bear of Highland Springs

Molly Bear of Highland Springs

We received the sad new today that Molly Bear of Highland Springs has crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Molly was a pup from our very first litter and sister to our sweet Gracie. Molly’s owners have become dear friends and we grieve their loss. Molly was loving and loyal and brought many years of happiness to her family.

The following message accompanied the notice we received from Bob & Joan: “We are so thankful to you for the opportunity to share our lives with such a wonderful girl and for all the times she returned to you, her other family, while we traveled. She was a one of a kind. We had no idea we could love a dog so much.”

Going Home

Sandy found the following prayer today searching the internet:

A Parting Prayer
Dear Lord, Please open your gates and call St Francis to come and escort this beloved companion across the Rainbow Bridge.
Assign her a place of honor, for she has been a faithful servant and has always tried to please me.
Bless the hands that send her to you, For they do so in love and compassion freeing her from pain and suffering.
Grant me the strength not to dwell on my loss. Help me remember the details of her life with the love she has shown me
and grant me the courage to honor her by sharing these memories with others.
Let her remember me well. Let her know I will always love her and when it is my time to pass over into your paradise please allow her to accompany those that will bring me home. Thank You Lord for the gift of her companionship and the time we’ve had together.
And Thank You Lord for granting me the strength to give her to you now.


Champion In The Family

HRCH RBRandL Buck 110


Saturday, 23 March 2013 was a great day for RBRandL Buck 110 as he earned the UKC Title “HRCH”.
What is required to earn the HRCH title?

Finished level hunt test (HRCH title)

An overview of what you can expect in a Finished level hunt test:

One land blind
One water blind
One triple land mark (a triple mark is defined as three marks presented before the dog is sent to retrieve.)
One triple water mark.
One diversion shot and/or retrieve
A walk-up.
A dog shall be required to honor a working dog.
Dogs must be steady on the line
Dogs must retrieve to hand

How to gain a HRCH title: Fifteen (15) Championship points per UKC Hunt test are awarded for those dogs who pass all Finished Hunting Retriever tests. The Hunting Retriever Champion (HRCH) title is attained by earning one hundred (100) Championship Points. Sixty (60) of the one hundred (100) points must be earned from the Finished category. Points can be earned in Started, Seasoned or Finished. Therefore if a dog has a HR title, they are required to pass 4 finished hunt tests.

As you can see, Buck and his owner/trainer/handler, Ernie Matacotta, have worked hard to achieve this goal. We are proud of Buck and are pleased to have Ernie and Buck represent Red Barn Ranch and Labradors, LLC.

Obedience Training Pays Off

The Lovely Ladies of RBRandL

We received the following message from a puppy client that is also a training client:

I was mowing the lawn earlier today, wearing head phones for hearing protection. The dogs had been out in the driveway waiting for someone to venture down our lane so they could give the warning bark. Since I could not hear the calamity unfolding Duke caught my attention by running to alert me that Dutch was in peril.

Dutch had caught sight of a red fox crossing the last 1 acre corner of our 10 acres and took flight . Having never seen one in her first year of life and not being an aggressive dog, she no doubt was chasing it because it was running and looked like it would be ‘fun’ to chase.

The fox was headed for the farmers field of tall grass and the freeway beyond. I started to move just as fast as the fox and Dutch, yelling the “COME” command as my arthritic knees began to remember what it was to sprint.

As my mind began to leap ahead as to what I would do when both the fox and Dutch disappeared out of sight and into the camouflage of the alfalfa field…Dutch stopped in her tracks, pivoted and I am sure my clear command registered as, ” Mama’s got a treat for me – screw that red thing – I’m going for the biscuit”

You train and train, not knowing if it will pay off when you need it.  This time it did!!

Dutch not only got a handful of  biscuits, she also got much loving, big praise, and a few supervised laps around the pool to cool off from her jog down to the fox and her sprint back for a treat.

Both dogs are now asleep at my feet – exhausted…as for me, I am taking my pulse and hoping it will slow down.

I have always had labs, but this is the first time a dog of mine responded to my command in a critical situation…And I credit your training with that success.

Congratulations Ernie & Buck

Ernie & Buck


Ernie & RBRandL Buck 110, recently earned two passes toward Buck’s HRCH title. Out of RBRandL Bella Grace, RA, CD X HRCH Gator Point’s Bayou Chopper, SH, Buck is owned, trained and handled by Ernie Matacotta of Marietta, GA. Ernie has used rewards-based training to develop his high energy Labrador into a focused and hard driving retriever. Rick Flippen of Britannia Gundogs called Buck “the real deal”. Ernie and Buck enjoy hunting together during duck season and will continue to compete. They’ve got their eyes on the Master National!

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