History of Matilija Labradors
I started training dogs and showing in obedience and conformation when I was a teen, first training a tough dog aggressive Golden (to a C.D.X. and bird work) and then moving on to showing, training and breeding Welsh Springer Spaniels. My entry into the world of show dogs came after a summer job with Olympian Kennels, primarily an American Cocker Spaniel Kennel that also had imported and started breeding Welshies. I learned a lot about dogs from Rick and Emily Preston. Rick and Emily let me help with the cockers, attend whelpings, cut dew claws, groom – I did whatever was needed that week. They then gifted me with a Welsh that went on to become my first champion. My first litter of Welsh Springers was born when I was 17. I bred my breed Champion “Olympian Portrait of Pencelli” to -Jon-Jon a Welsh that the Prestons had imported from the UK. Mickie had six pups and none went to show homes! And so began my journey into the dog world. Welsh Springer Spaniels were rare at that time. These pups were great pets and two went to hunting homes, a great fit for these hunting spaniels. All of the Welsh that I personally owned were titled and one (an import from Holland) and from seizure free lines was a group placer. The breed had/has health issues- as all breeds do, seizures being the worst, but hip dysplasia and very shy temperaments were also common at this time. Niclas, my import was dysplastic, had severe separation anxiety and while gorgeous (he was the group placer) was a tough dog to live with.
Our family raised several Labradors for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. in San Rafael, CA. Maverick was my first Guide to graduate and a yellow Labrador that was the first guide for Chuck Kintz, a man who would become a family friend. When the last Welshie died I decided to go back to versatile breed I knew and loved, the Labrador Retriever.
Labs are indeed a versatile breed, bred mainly for hunting but easy going and adaptable to many life styles. Labs can do it all- if you want a working dog get a Lab, but if you want a friend for life that never has a bad day, get a Lab. Now as a breeder and Lab fancier for the last 25 years my primary goal is to first “do no harm” and then to thoughtfully add to what I have been given by the breeders that have gone before me.
I consider my dogs to be multi-purpose, show, field and obedience, agility, service and family pets. I breed a dog that can use it’s body, not a slug. Mine are the “English” style- the true Labrador Retriever. There is no such dog as an “American Lab”. The Labrador originated in England. I do show in the breed ring, AND they all retrieve- they don’t stay in my breeding program if they can’t or won’t retrieve. Now on my 6th generation, my Labradors (and get and grand-get) have won in the show ring, titled in many venues, many are in hunting homes with hunting titles, one of mine a brood bitch at Guide Dogs of America and three that were born here were FEMA certified advanced search and rescue dogs.