Skip to main content

Labrador Retriever: Labor of Love, Patience

A Lab can be a great hunting dog, but it can take time, mishaps to get there.

Labrador Retriever: Labor of Love, Patience

If you hunt with or have owned a Lab, what is the most ridiculous thing he or she has destroyed? (Shutterstock image)

One thingthat never ceases to amaze me is the destructive capabilities of an otherwise unengaged Labrador retriever. Anyone familiar with that lovable, lumbering breed knows immediately what I mean. Those who aren’t are both lucky … and horribly deprived.

I mention this because duck seasons are open, or about to open, across much of the country and, this past winter, my dad received a new Lab puppy as a gift. He’s a sharp-looking chocolate Lab named Duke.

After getting Duke, I think my dad’s realized why many folks have children relatively young. They’re a lot of work, require a great deal of energy and can, at times, be very frustrating. The same is true of puppies, particularly Labs from hunting stock.

My dad loves duck hunting. He’s done it for many years. His father owned Labs, and they always hunted with them. So, he’s familiar with Lab antics. Still, it’s always different first-hand, and Labs often find ways to outdo themselves.


It must often be a challenge for them: “What’s the most heinous, ridiculous thing I can find and obliterate today?” Socks, shoes, shirts, plastic bottles, chair legs, fallen tree branches ... the list goes on and on, and seemingly nothing is safe from their exploring maw.


Find the best day and time to hunt in your zip code

Several months back my dad told me a story about something Duke had done. Like many young dogs, he had an affinity for socks. So, one day my dad came home from work and was going to change clothes to take Duke outside. Because Duke often pounced on socks when they hit the ground, my dad shut the door to the back bedroom to change and left Duke standing on the other side.

Here’s how that unfolded.

Human mindset: “Stay out here for a minute so I can change, and we’ll go throw your ball around outside.”

Lab mindset: “You shut the door to change socks in peace; that’s fine, I’ll just chew through the adjacent wall so I can pop in and say hello.”


My dad heard Duke trying to gnaw through the drywall before anything too serious could happen, but now that wall bears a scar, a reminder of what a determined Lab can do.

Each week, my dad and I usually talk on the phone. During the call he’ll give me an update on training progress, as well as any tales of odd new items Duke has found and shredded.

While there are some impressive ones, he still has a long way to go before taking our family’s destructive Lab crown. That honor, to date, belongs to Casey, one of my grandfather’s hunting dogs.


Click to subscribe to Game & Fish Magazine

As the story goes, my father and his cousin, Gary, had been woodworking in my grandfather’s basement, which also had a workshop. In the basement, there was a small dog door usually blocked from inside by a piece of wood to keep Casey out. After working a bit, my dad and Gary took a quick break to grab lunch upstairs. They accidentally left the board closing off the dog door over to the side, which allowed Casey to come inside. When they returned minutes later, destruction greeted them. Casey had shredded Gary’s favorite sweatshirt to tatters, crunched his flip-phone in half and left a corded car polisher a gnarled mess.

These chewing habits, of course, extended to the duck blind. Plenty of carelessly placed gloves, hats and jackets fell victim to his destructive jaws.

Casey was the epitome of a bull in a china shop. He was a tank, with four big paws and powerful, driving legs. Each morning I hunted ducks with my dad and grandfather, he’d heave his hulking body into our flat-bottomed boat with all the grace and poise of a bear cannonballing from a high dive. Then he’d look at you with what I can only describe as a Lab’s version of a smile, a goofy expression and a wagging tail, reminding you just how great it was to be awake and in a cold aluminum boat at 4 a.m.

Yet these same characteristics—the drive to hunt, the boundless enthusiasm, even the steadfast stubbornness—were what made Casey a great duck dog. I hope this is true for Duke, too. That part of his training at least is going well I think. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to be impressed by the stories of carnage.

If you hunt with or have owned a Lab, what is the most ridiculous thing he or she has destroyed? I’m curious to know... for scientific purposes of course.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter.

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river.How to Catch Catfish Day and Night Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Make this venison chorizo recipe and cook it right away or freeze it (cooked or raw) and use it as needed.Venison Chorizo Recipe Wild Game

Venison Chorizo Recipe

Allie Doran - October 30, 2020

Make this venison chorizo recipe and cook it right away or freeze it (cooked or raw) and use...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

All sides must have something to offer to make it work.Fishing Buddies: It Has to Be Give-and-Take Stories

Fishing Buddies: It Has to Be Give-and-Take

Jeff Johnston - June 18, 2020

All sides must have something to offer to make it work.

Pan-friend slabs may not sound like a holiday meal, but as a celebration of Mom's life it was my most memorable Christmas dinner ever.Crappie for Christmas: The Fondest of Childhood Memories Stories

Crappie for Christmas: The Fondest of Childhood Memories

Keith Sutton - December 19, 2018

Pan-friend slabs may not sound like a holiday meal, but as a celebration of Mom's life it was...

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths.Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee Fishing

Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee

Larry Larsen - April 28, 2020

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now