Alfie, the chocolate Lab at the beach

Labrador Health

Alfie's Story

Alfie (by Jennie)

Alfie was born on the 30th September 2004 and we brought him to our home on the 27th December 2004. 


We had talked at great length about getting a dog and were set on getting a black Labrador. We had planned to go on holiday over Christmas but could not get a booking, so with two weeks where both of us were off work to settle in a puppy it seemed an ideal time. We looked in the local papers and saw an Alfie on the sofaadvert for Labrador puppies. I rang and the only Labradors were available immediately were a litter of Chocolate labs. I discussed this with my partner Shaun and he said no, he had heard Chocolate labs were 'wappy', but the black litter would not be ready for another six weeks.

The following day we decided to go and have a look at the chocolate litter. On arrival it was a small farm in the middle of nowhere and pretty shabby looking. They said all they had left was a 12 week old dog and bitch but we could not see the bitch because she was not well!! We should have heard alarm bells at this point, but we were excited and really wanted to take a puppy home that day. Alfie came out and I must admit it wasn’t love at first sight for me; he was massive for 12 weeks old, huge paws and really chunky, I had got an image in my head of cupping a little pup in my hands. Shaun on the other hand, the more sensible of us, fell in love with him at first sight, he had to have him. We saw the parents and they looked very healthy so we paid our money and left with our BIG bundle of joy. We were given a puppy pack, six weeks free insurance and a family tree chart.

After a couple of days we noticed he was scratching a lot and his skin did not seem right. We made an appointment with the vets and he was diagnosed with Mange, so for his first fortnight we had to bath him in an iodine shampoo, he wasn’t very impressed.


The Signs

All seemed well with Alfie but at 9 months, we noticed him bunny-hopping after walks, and getting  increasingly worse until, just before his first birthday we took him to our Vets. After an X-Ray he was diagnosed him with hip dysplasia, we were devastated. We were advised to keep his weight down, not to over walk him and play it by ear. Alfie was not insured at this point, so we swiftly took out insurance, but had to resign ourselves to the fact that he would not be covered for this problem.

In November 2007, I realised Alfie was starting to really struggle so after doing some research I decided to go for a consultation at The Buckley House Vets (Where Charlie went for his op). They were so great, very thorough and after X-rays the Vet said he would definitely need both hips replacing and that Alfie was now in permanent discomfort. Alfie had pre-op tests and was found to have an abnormal spine so he had to have more tests. Luckily there was no major problem and all his other joints were healthy, so we booked Alfie in for his op in January 2008.


The Operation

Alfie after surgeryWe dropped Alfie off at the specialist at 8.30am on the 12th January and told to ring back at 4pm. We rang and were told that the op had been a success and to ring 9am the next morning. We rang and were told to collect him at lunchtime. I was so nervous and anxious to see him, Shaun and a Veterinary nurse carried Alfie to the car, not an easy task when he weighs 30Kg, Alfie cried the whole hour journey home.

The next two days were very stressful, we had to put him in a cage so he did not dislocate the hip and jump up on the sofa, the sofa is where he is happiest. Steadily he made good progress and I am so proud of how he dealt with it all. After three months of recuperation the specialist was very happy with his progress and is now booked in to have his other hip replaced in June.


After the Operation

Alfie resting after his operationWell it’s the 1st August today 5 weeks after Alfie’s second hip replacement and he is doing really well. The second procedure went pretty much like the first, very stressful again during the first 72 hours, Alfie cried and cried because he was in so much pain, but I can assure you its worth it, now he is in no pain at all and off his pain killers and back to being just a happy and contented dog.

He now has a companion called Poppy who is a Chihuahua cross and they play together so well.



Jennie's Plea

The moral of the story is please please please, do research go to a reputable breeders, do not go to puppy farms or places that have no regard to their dogs at all, it both parents haven't AT LEAST been hips-cored with current clear eye certificates, walk away.

Better still, get the information before you go, and then you won't be tempted.


Disclaimer:  Please note - all prospective labrador puppy owners are advised to ensure that both parents have been hip-scored and hold current clear eye certificates, and to follow the exercise and dietary advice from their breeder; this can vastly reduce the risk of your puppy suffering future problems.  It does NOT however give a cast iron guarantee your puppy will not have problems.

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