Dog Stories: Nestle

The story of Eromit Labradors could not even begin without this very important girl. Nestle was acquired after the abrupt and unexpected passing of my previous Lab Flash. I had developed an interest in breeding my own Labs and always had a soft spot for chocolates, and at the time, field-type chocolates were not very easy to find at least in our neck of the woods, so with the potential of breeding in mind, I sought out a puppy. My mom and I drove down to a small town near Estevan, Saskatchewan, to pick up the last chocolate female in a large litter from a breeder who had ‘just’ hunting dogs out of field trial and pointing lines- no fancy pedigree like the type that would attract me now. The little brown puppy rode on my lap all the way home and it took me two weeks to come up with a suitable name for her (she was this close to being named Rosebud!) Initially her main job was to learn every trick that Lassie performed in movies, and she did a little bit of hunting. She produced two nice litters by Renegade and a son, but I did not end up keeping any from either litter. By extreme good fortune, I was able to lease a grand-daughter of that first litter -Lee-for two breedings which gave us some of extremely nice pet, hunting and sport dogs including Verona, our first flyball champion Yoshi, and our first All Age field trial dog Shadow.

Nestle with two of her Lab buddies were hired to play search and rescue dogs in a locally filmed movie called Without Malice. Nestle (with all of her trick-training prep work) was chosen to play the ‘hero’ dog earning her a couple short minutes of big screen glory as she scratched through the snow to find clues and then a victim. When I left home for university, Nestle stayed back for the first two years but then joined me in the big city of Saskatoon. My friend Tamara Taylor relentlessly harassed us into taking agility lessons until I finally agreed.

We took a couple sets of agility lessons and a little dabble in flyball before she had ‘time off’ for her 3rd and final litter by FC Magic. After staying up with her all night with no signs of labor, she sneakily delivered 11 puppies like rapid fire missiles while I worked my last morning shift at Wonderbar Arabians. Two of those puppies (Twig and Onyx) have gone on to be Eromit contributors. Immediately after the litter was weaned, Nestle went back to agility training (she even had an infamous bra to hold up her boobs over the jumps, as they took forever to shrink back down!) As soon as she could perform without the bra, we began trialling against the sage advice of our instructor. As a result of our premature entrance into competition, we enjoyed all sorts of embarrassment (aka great fun!) such as leaving the ring to beg for french fries from bystanders and rolling in horse poop or my favorite- stealing mittens from the volunteers and finishing the course with mitten in mouth! She was always overly enthusiastic at the startline, barking, bucking and snorting and one friend compared her to a hyped up barrel horse which was a pretty accurate description.

With continued practice and guidance from many gurus, we got a little better at agility and meanwhile, Nestle helped foster many puppies and a litter of orphan kittens through the Saskatoon SPCA, which she tended to very thoroughly and even allowed to ‘nurse’. After a move to Fort Nelson interrupted her agility career it it’s prime, we were able to resume in her senior years when we moved south to Quesnel. By the time she was in double digits she had essentially reached the pinnacle of her training and she was starting to act like an adult dog; success in terms of Q’s and titles came better than ever to her little grey-grizzled self though she’d still tell me off by barking when I gave poor directions. In Quesnel, Nestle made fast friends with (then) junior handler Alyssa Crannis who made Nestle’s day several times by providing expert handling in trials (probably a great relief for the brown dog to have a break from me!).

Nestle was a fabulous grandma/great/great grandma to many puppies, a terrific bird and critter hunter, and the most forgiving competition dog. Most of all she was my best buddy through basically every major milestone in my life. She was healthy and completely sound for all of her nearly 15 years, survived a mammary tumor removal at age 11 with no issues and was competing in agility until 13. Her last years of retirement were mostly doodling around the yard mouse hunting and wrangling puppies both of which she enjoyed immensely. Nestle spent her last full day on earth getting some love from her favorite teacher Kiersten Lloyd and even enjoyed a special bird hunt with Tim. Early the next morning, she failed very suddenly and asked to be released. Nestle was the most terrific dog you could ever ask for, and is missed every single day.

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