Finding A Reputable Breeder

Snowco’s Final Justice ( Miya)

There are many things to consider when searching for a reputable breeder to purchase a puppy.

Depending on the breed of pup you are looking for you need to do your research on health problems that particular breed is prone to and be well aware of the proper testing that is to be done, the certifications needed for proper breeding and at what age those certifications are done to produce the healthiest pups possible. This link should be helpful:

A reputable breeders main reason for breeding is to improve their lines in their particular breeding program.  As well as to produce soundness, temperament and good health.  They should only produce one or two litters a year or every other year.  Having 2+ litters on the ground at one time can be a red flag.  A female should only be bred on “every other” heat and only up to the age of 6 or 7 years of age.

The Labrador Retriever:

In the Labrador Retriever hips, elbows, eyes and heart are important health screening tests.  And in some cases thyroid as well.

Hips and elbows are checked for dysplasia and certified thru the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals ( via x-ray and this is a one time test and can not be done and certified until the dog is 2 years of age.

Eyes should be Cerfed by a board certified ophthalmologist annually to check for folds, cataracts and the like. 

Optigen is another eye test done thru a blood draw to prevent PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) which will cause a dog to go blind.   Test results will come back A-normal, B-carrier or C-effected.  This is a one time test and can be done at any age.

In any breeding a B or a C Optigened dog must always be bred to an A to prevent PRA.  If both parents of a litter are Optigen A than the pups will be A by parentage.

Heart testing is done by a board certified cardiologist where Echo and Heart Color Doppler are performed.  This is a one time test and dog can not be certified until 1 year of age.

When speaking with a breeder never hesitate to ask what health clearances their dogs have.  Ask for copies of all certificates and pedigrees on their dogs for the particular litter you are interested in.  Never accept the response that the copies will be mailed to you after you take pup home.  That is a red flag and you should walk away.

Always visit the breeders home prior to purchase – to meet the parent(s) of the pups and to see the environment pups are being raised in.  Don’t be turned off by a breeder that will not let you visit until pups are a certain age.  It is for the health and safety of the pups.   If neither parent of the litter is on premises this is also a red flag and a good indication of a puppy broker and you should walk away.

Don’t hesitate to ask for references from past buyers.

Your breeder should recommend you take your new pup to your own vet for a health check and should give a health guarantee of 72 hours or the like from the date of purchase.  Meaning that if there is anything wrong with the pup health wise you can return it immediately for a full refund.

A reputable breeder will have you sign a contract mentioning a number of things, including that you are never allowed to re-home this pup to anyone at any time in the dogs life but must contact the breeder first as they will always take their dogs back.  All pet pups should be sold on a limited registration and on a spay/neuter clause in the contract.

A reputable breeder who truly cares about where their pups go will interview you at length and ask for references, including a vet reference if you are not a first time pet owner.  They will be there for you and your pup for the rest of that pups life for any questions or issues you may have. 

Remember this is a two way interview and the breeder should appreciate the homework you have done and all the questions you ask.  If they are put off by your questions then thank them for their time and move on. 

I have just covered the basics here.  If anyone has any further questions or comments please let me know.


PS:  Any breeder or their web site accepting Paypal or credit cards is also a red flag.

Unsafe Pet Items

A Poison Safe Home 

Many people who have pets have already seen bits and pieces of this list on the ASPCA web site.   I won’t list everything here, but please visit the site to see the items listed.  It lists foods to avoid feeding your pets, holiday dangers, warm and cold weather dangers, dangerous plants, etc.  While much of this is common sense, some of the items you may not have thought about before are or can be dangerous to your pet. 

Cat litter is listed there.  I have read a lot about “clumping” cat litter causing serious blockage problems.  If you use this type of cat litter, make sure your cats and dogs are not ingesting it.  Even inhaling too much of the dust can be an issue from what I have read. 

One thing that is not listed are plastic bags or more especially, clear plastic.  If they chew the plastic bags or wrappings, and ingest bits and pieces, this could create a blockage.  It makes it harder to figure out what is wrong with your pet because the clear plastic won’t show up on the X-rays.  This happened to someone I work with.  So, keep that in mind also. 

I have a problem myself with some of the cat toys on the market.  What’s with the glued on tinsel, metallic decor, beads, etc., on the cat toys?  I don’t want my cat chewing or playing with toys like that.  The stuff comes off and more than likely, some of it gets ingested.  I think some of the cat toys should be listed as potentially harmful to your cat as well.   Especially if they come from China.  Okay…time for me to go.  China is one of my pet peeves, shall we say.

Until next time….

Take care!


Pet Safe Products

Having cats in the house, or other pets, one thinks or should think about the cleaners, etc., used in and around the house.

I have found that a few good basics are working for me.  Vinegar, baking soda, and citrus based products.  I use  LOTS OF VINEGAR!  Ah, wonderful vinegar!  🙂 Many people don’t realize that it is a good disinfectant, and that it is used for hundreds of other different things.

“Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—such as you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can’t claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show 48 Hours had a special last December with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this. ”  (from the website )  Great website, btw.  🙂

I put vinegar in spray bottles and use it everywhere.   I spray my carpet and furniture with it…it also helps with odors.  I clean countertops with it, wipe off doorknobs, etc., and use it to help with my ant problem.  (It kills the small black ants, btw)  I can’t even begin to tell you about all the wonders of vinegar, so I have listed a site where you can go and see for yourself.  You should google it as well.  Unbelievable what all people use vinegar for.  🙂

I  also use Orange Guard.  I use it outside my doors and windows and along the outside of the house.  I got this because I have cats inside and other critters outside and I can’t stand the idea of having a pest control person come and spray nasty chemicals everywhere.  Orange Guard works pretty well for me.  It does not last as long as the nasty pesticides do, but that’s okay.  I just spray when I need to.  Here is the web site in case anyone is interested.

Another item I have used is an inexpensive spice, a pepper mix, that I bought in the grocery store.  I sprinkled this in areas where I was having problems with dogs and cats messing around in my flower beds/shrubs.  I didn’t get the really spicy, hot, and potentially dangerous stuff.  What I bought was fairly mild.  It seemed to work for me, but maybe I just got lucky.  I decided to do this because I read on a container of “Critter B-Gone” or something similar I saw in Lowes/Home Depot, where it stated the ingredients were all sorts of peppers.  I also read on the Internet that various pepper mixes help to keep certain critters away. But the “Critter B-Gone” had some nasty hot/spicy peppers in it, too, and stated it could really hurt me if I inhaled it, etc.  So, I did not buy that.  I improvised. 

There are many items in Nature that can be used instead of using the more harmful chemicals.  It takes some research and time, but one can find natural things that will work.  I have only listed a few here.  I am sure many of you have some great ideas and pet friendly products that you use as well.  I would be very interested to hear about them.  🙂

Well, that is it for now. 

Take care!  🙂

All You Dog Lovers Out There:

Hello everyone,

My name is Patty and I will be heading up the Breeder section of the Blog.

My family has been breeding Labrador Retievers since 1970 and are truly devoted to this wonderful breed and all dogs/animals in general.  To learn more about me please go to our web site at  If you scroll down on our Gallery page you will also see pictures of our Morgan horses we have bred and raised and of wild baby animals we have raised.  My life would not be complete without animals in it.

I am also a certified personal trainer and get great satisfaction from my work.  You can see more about that aspect of my life at

I also enjoy, cooking, gardening, reading, good wine and antiquing, but Labradors are my passion.  I live my life around my dogs and truly enjoy educating and helping others where their dogs are concerned.

I will be discussing many topics here such as, finding a reputable breeder, buying a puppy, training, diet, and health issues from my own experiences and the holistic approaches I have taken whenever possible.  I am hoping that my experience can help others here.

I welcome your feedback and questions.  If anyone has a question on a subject I do not have experience with I will do my best to research and find you answers or refer you to sites that can help you.

 I am flattered to have been asked to head up this section of the Blog and hope to get feed back from others and to also learn something new myself.  I am no expert by any means and I thrive to learn something new every day.

I look forward to chatting and sharing experiences with all of you.
Patty Snow
Snowco Labradors

Cat Litter

The topic of cat litter can be quite extensive as I have found being in cat groups on the Internet. 

I, myself, prefer the more “natural based” cat litters.  I have used Arm and Hammer, Sweatscoop, “World’s Best Cat Litter”, and various pine, cedar, and grain types.  I have allergy sinus problems, so dust is a big thing with me…plus, it means more cleaning.  🙂

I finally ended up with the Healthy Pet Brands.  I mixed the 2 types I used to be able to buy locally.  One was a pine blend I believe and the other was the milled grain that you will see here at Hearty Pet.  They stopped selling it locally, so it was off to the Internet for me.  I searched and researched and finally found Healthy Pet online at various web sites. 

I have ordered from sites other than Hearty Pet, and their delay in placing the order and shipping was unreal.  I love how quickly you can get things here at Hearty Pet.  Well, at least in my area.  I live in South Carolina.  I know, that may sound like a plug for this site and it is.  🙂 This is the only web site I have had such great customer service with.  🙂

For those of you who go the more natural route with cat litter, you may find that mixing a couple of your choice brands will give you more of what you are looking for.  Don’t be afraid to mix the natural ones.  But, if you prefer to flush the litter, then you need to be really careful about this.  For those who use it in composting or dispose of it in a landfill, you don’t have to be as careful. 

I love the light weight of the Healthy Pet “Dust Free” and “Health Plus” brands.  I find the “Health Plus” helps more with odor control.  I have also started adding a cedar “sawdust” litter in with the “Health Plus” and this works great for me…and my 6 cats.   The additional cedar helps even more with the odor control.  Dust and odor control is a biggie for me.  Plus, I want to use something that is “gentle” and “natural” for my cats. 

Those are my thoughts and experience on cat litter. 

Until next time…..

Take care!


Premium Pet Foods – Real Stories #1

Hearty Pet will be sharing stories from our customers about their decisions to buy premium pet foods and the results they have seen. The stories are truly inspiring. Enjoy the reading 

To Whom it May Concern:

In March of 2004 we learned that one of our cats, Miss Weezer, had diabetes.

I read as much as I could about the disease in cats and came to the conclusion that, since cats are obligate carnivores, I would remove as many of the carbohydrates from her diet as possible. I started by cooking chicken, beef, fish for her and eventually found Wellness canned cat foods.

At that time, it was difficult to find premium (or any other) cat food with out grains or rice. Wellness fit the bill and it is a large part of her diet to this day. She especially likes Turkey and Salmon. We were able (with our vet’s supervision) to gradually reduce insulin over the years and, as of July 12, 2007, she is insulin free. If you’ve ever had a diabetic animal, you know that this is huge–not only for her, but us!

Our vet thinks that this development is, in large part, to her tightly controlled diet. Wellness cat food is a great product and I’m happy to have discovered it.

I also appreciate your fine customer service, quick shipping and great specials–including free shipping periodically. It has been a pleasure to do business with you and I hope to continue in the future.

I’m hopeful that this story will be helpful to other pet owners with diabetic animals.


Laura and Miss Weezer

The FURminator!

Awesome grooming tool!  Has anyone else tried it?  I bought one the other week at the vet’s office and it has made the difference between night and day for me in grooming my cats.  

They have three sizes available through veterinarians or pet supply stores.  They can be used on both cats and dogs.   Here is the link if anyone is interested.

Check out the video there.  Trust me, my cat’s hair came off just like that even though I have been brushing him daily with one of those small wire bristle brushes, which I thought was a good grooming tool until……THE FURMINATOR!  🙂

Hey Cat People!

Hello all!  

I will be heading up blogs dealing with cats and other miscellaneous items pending the mood.  🙂

I am Gizzaroo.  I presently have six cats.  All are “rescue kitties,” three of which are feral.  My most current adoption is Potter.  He is coming along quite well.   He is a very sweet kitten.  I caught him two weeks ago.  His mother is my next goal and hopefully, I can stop for a while.  That can be a lot of work…catching, taking care of and taming a feral.  I was worried about him being around the other big cats due to his size and how the others may bully him or ignore him.  Well, their hissing, etc., does not phase him.  He ends up chasing them around the house.  What a stinker!  He has made friends with the head of the cat household, so he pretty much is “in” with the rest of the cats…at least eventually he will be.  🙂

Just because I have chosen this route for me, does not mean I am not interested in other types of cats and situations because I am.  I am curious about cats who like water.  🙂  I know there is a particular breed known just for their love of water.  I forget the name of this breed.  If anyone has any such cat, please share your stories and info.  🙂   If anyone has any cat stories or info they would like to share, please do!  🙂

Other things about me are that I love all animals, like gardening, enjoy being in and around Nature, love to laugh, like exploring the Internet, good movies, good coffee, good tea (hot or cold) and I love my days off from work. 🙂   I like just about all types of music.  I sometimes have spells and write “poetry stuff” as well.

I shop often on the Internet.  I LOVE the CONVENIENCE of it!  I hate traffic and don’t like having to deal with the rude and inconsiderate people out there today.  And of course the heat and drought where I am don’t help people’s moods.   Ah yes, the Internet…open 24/7…no dress code…no rude sales clerks….no waiting in the wrong line…just peaceful shopping by computer screen light.  🙂

Well, that is a bit about me.  Please take a moment and introduce yourself here in this blog, if you like.  We look forward to seeing you here at Hearty Pet Talkin’ Tails Blog!  🙂

Take care!


Shipping Costs – a Killer?

Being in the online business, obviously shipping is always a hot topic and one of great debate. I was discussing this recently with a friend and he was shocked that people would pay to have food shipped to them. However, after  I explained it to him he understood how it wasn’t that much more expensive. Let me explain.

First, there are people who live in areas that they simply cannot get their food without getting it online. For these people, its not really a matter of choice but a matter of necessity. We work hard to keep prices down and hope we can ease the pain of shipping for these people.

Second, lets look at the economics of shipping. Lets say you live in an area where you have the benefit of a small premium food supplier. Chances are a place like this sits in the middle of several rural towns so best to supply everyone. Having said this, lets assume this business is 20 miles away from your house. A round trip will be 40 miles. Next, lets assume an average gas consumption of 20 miles per gallon. And lastly, lets assume an average of $2.90 per gallon of gas. For your purchase, you would have spent $5.80 in fuel. Now it probably took you an hour and a half of your time. I can’t estimate what an hour and a half of your time is worth, but needless to say im certain with todays busy lifestyles it is worth more than $10. Now, not taking into account wear and tear on your vehicle, stress from traffic, getting the children packed up and ready to go, getting there and back safely, the bottom line price of you getting that food was $15.84 on top of the product price. Think about all that … we all value our time, most of us value it at way more than $10 an hour but at any rate we all value it.

Lastly, irregardless of shipping costs it is for many people well worth the price of shipping for the convenience of sitting at your desk and ordering. We have heard from many customers that say they would never go back to buying in a store, the convenience of home delivery cannot have a price put on it for these people.

And remember, the average cost for shipping for our customers works out to about $15 per order. This is cheaper than the cost for a local store based on the above calculations. Add in the savings you get with our coupons (NEWS5) for an ongoing 5% off and the many others that vary each month. This month (until the end of August 07) we have $8 off any order total of $75 or more (not including shipping). Simply use coupon code SAVE8 at checkout.

Having said all this, I understand that the price of shipping is a killer for some. For many though, it is well worth it for the convenience.

We enjoy being able to offer free shipping events on occasion. Stay tuned to the blog for news of when free shipping may take place.

Until next time …