Saturday, November 29, 2014

History and Future of the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue

The Heart of Texas Lab Rescue was founded by a couple named Dick and Luanne who after helping with a puppy mill rescue for Golden Retrievers and Labradors wrote an article in the Heart of Texas Labrador Retriever Club newsletter about one of the Labs from that rescue named Sophie. 

Picture of Sophie
Sophie was afraid of humans, and it appeared that even with Luanne’s patience and help, Sophie was never going to overcome her distrust of humans.  However, a woman who had adopted one of the other Labs from the puppy mill rescue decided to also adopt Sophie, knowing her distrust of humans.  After a long process, Sophie learned to trust her new family and lived a wonderful, full life.

Because of the article about Sophie, several Labrador lovers joined with Dick and Luanne to organize the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue (HOTLR).  The first meeting of the Rescue was in April 1998 and it received IRS 501 (c)3 non-profit status in June 1998.  The mission of the organization was, and still is, to rescue Labrador Retrievers from shelters, pounds, abandonment, and other situations, and place them in loving, caring homes.
In the beginning the Rescue utilized the kennels at Dick and Luanne’s home/property in Leander as well as enlisting a few volunteers to foster some of the dogs in their homes.

In 2002, due to road construction of the Parmer Lane extension going through the Lindsey’s property, they decided to move to Arkansas to be close to family. 
During this time HOTLR went through a major transformation in operations. A local kennel was used for a short-time to board dogs rescued from shelters until a foster home became available, but that practice became cost prohibitive.  Today, a few dogs are temporarily boarded at the HOTLR President's property before moving into foster care. 
Since inception the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue has saved over a thousand dogs and is committed to continue that effort.
The Future of the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue
The Rescue would like to take a huge step forward to better serve our mission by purchasing a facility (or property).
The purchase of a facility would allow us to rescue more dogs and get them into the loving homes they deserve.  A facility would allow us to expand the number of meet and greets, shorten adoption wait time, and offer new services such as training and boarding for our alum dogs.  When dogs are removed from shelters they will be housed at the facility where volunteers will play a large part in their care.  We still plan to use foster homes to prepare dogs for their new home life.  Our vision includes a minimum of ten acres with buildings that could be used for meet and greets, housing dogs, hosting seminars, etc.  Our budget is $500k.
How can you help?  Please share our vision with interested parties who might be able to make our vision a reality.  Consider joining the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue Facility Foundation the capital campaign for our facility. Since It's the holiday season, please consider giving the gift of a donation in memory of a beloved (two legged or four legged) to help our cause.  Memorial bricks, benches and kennel naming rights are available for purchase.  Donations are tax deductible. Please direct any questions to George Denbow, Treasurer, Heart of Texas Lab Rescue -


Friday, March 7, 2014

Below is an account of Sanford’s first few hours in foster care.  You may remember that Sanford is a big, beautiful yellow guy who was lacking some doggie manners from not having had enough people interaction; his size and rambunctiousness made him a hard to place foster.  Thanks to Amanda (a Dog Trainer) for showing Sanford what family life is all about - From Amanda:

A quick, 1st night update on the San-Man...
He's doing just great!  We ran into Petsmart before heading home and got a Gentle Leader (which he took to very nicely) and two chew bones, one for him and one for my Beau. He got a bunch of compliments in Petsmart from customers and employees.
He rode great in the truck once he had his bone and after he finished it stuck his head out the window (rolled down just far enough for his head!) and had the most hilarious flap-jaws.   I think he liked how it felt because he kept turning into the wind every time his lips would stop flapping!  He looked so funny; I saw people in two other cars pointing and laughing!
He learned to use the dog door before I could even get over there to show him how! Fastest learner of the dog door I've ever had.  Usually I tell Beau 'outside!, he demonstrates and then I hold the flap open while my boyfriend Rocky stands outside with a treat.  Sanford watched Beau and then pushed the flap back open and out he went!  Same thing coming in, watched Beau once and that was that. They raced around the backyard for 30 minutes peeing and chasing then we went in.  The boys settled down on dog beds and took a 2 hour nap!
We've said his name literally hundreds of times with lots of ear rubs and treats, he's now responding to it pretty well, about 80% of the time.  I think he's getting the hang of 'go potty' and 'good tee-tee' as well. We haven't had any accidents inside. He started to lift his leg on a big potted plant (I can't blame him too much, it looks like a tree!) but he stopped as soon as I said 'No!'
This evening we learned to sit and he's now doing it on voice and hand command; we'll see if he remembers in the morning. Tomorrow we are having a walk on the Gentle Leader, learning to use the clicker, and going to the Zilker kite festival.
Beau has been teaching him some 'doggie manners' like 'that's my bone, don't touch it', 'wait your turn when we are drinking from the hose' and 'don't jump on the couch or mom's bed those are MY spots!', oh and most importantly, 'you may play with all of my hundreds of toys except for my baby, the stuffed foxy!'
I set up his crate but he's been doing so well I haven't put him in there yet.  He's sleeping on his dog bed right next to my bed right now
I've got matching bandanas on him and Beau and my mom's making him one with a big ADOPT ME!! sewn on it.
There will be lots of photos and videos as he is soooo handsome and quite photogenic!
Oh, I almost forgot the funniest thing.  He 'buries' his bones inside.  First he pushed a large potted plant about a foot out from the wall, dropped the bone behind it, behind it not in the dirt, and then shoved the plant back against the wall.  Before bed he nosed my zip-up notebook, which was on the floor leaning against the bedside table, out of the way, shoved his bone half under the table, and then pushed the notebook on top of it. He was getting frustrated because the notebook kept sliding off the bone but he kept after it, readjusting bone and notebook 7 or 8 times until it balanced and hid the bone to his satisfaction. So funny!  I wish is gotten a video but I was so busy watching and laughing I didn't even think about it but I have a feeling he'll 'bury' again.
He likes to have something in his mouth but he's not very mouthy, if that makes sense.  He also hasn't barked at all; I'm hoping Beau doesn't teach him how! I'm happy to say he hasn't humped again since the initial 'hello hump'.   And that determined streak is great! He's not exactly stubborn he just really wants to try it his way :)
Well, I thought it was going to be a quick update, but he's such a joy I just had to share all!
Thanks so much for letting me take him and for all the awesome hard work y'all do saving these fabulous dogs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lured Away from the Holiday Madness

At this time during the holiday season,  it's not always easy to find time for activities that you and your dog can enjoy but I recently received an email from a wonderful establishment that does dog training and other fun activities and was drawn to a Lure Coursing event.

We all know Labrador's are hunting dogs so this type of class seemed perfect for my four legged family members.  Dogs chase an artificial lure across a field, following a pattern that is meant to simulate a live chase.  The chase is generated by a continuous loop line through a series of pulleys in a non-uniform set of turns.  When I saw the lure itself (a white plastic grocery sack) I had some doubts.  Would the dogs be attracted to a moving plastic bag?  The answer was, absolutely!

Four dogs were signed up for the event (I think that was the maximum number for the class) and Chuy (my two year old black Lab) was up first.  Of my two dogs, Chuy is the most laid back; I wondered if his instincts would kick in.  The dogs are released to chase the lure one-at-a-time.  The minute the plastic bag moved Chuy took chase.  It was great fun to watch.  It took him a few seconds to catch onto the chase pattern and then he tried to cutoff the lure.  The instructor has a great time playing keep away.  The other dogs in attendance barked wildly because they wanted to chase too!

Nikki, my six year old yellow Lab, has strong hunting instincts.  She has caught several small wild creatures and displayed them proudly.  She immediately took chase after the lure and at the end of her run was whining with impatience (she did not want to stop the chase).  She also figured out quickly how to work the course to try and trap the lure.

The two other dogs in the class also gave great chase.  A young Chow actually caught the lure (a new bag was needed after that run).

The dogs were allowed to give chase three or four times (it's important that they not get over-heated).  All-in-all it was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  We'll try to do it again soon.

My camera skills need some work!  But you'll get the drift.

P. Miner
Heart of Texas Lab Rescue, Volunteer Coordinator

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Strategic Planning for Heart of Texas Lab Rescue

Dear Heart of Texas Lab Rescue (HOTLR) Community -Adopters, Volunteers, and Donors,

You are the “heart” in our mission and whether you are new to our community or a long-time supporter, we are grateful for your energy and commitment to our efforts to rescue Labrador Retrievers.  Now we ask for your assistance in helping us design our future. 

We are at a major crossroads and need to take stock of our past and our present as we look to our future.  We cannot continue to operate in our current manner and need to consider all options including shutting down operations (worst case scenario).  To determine the best way for us to continue serving these amazing dogs and our community, our Board is engaging in a strategic planning process that will begin in September and we’d like your input to that process. 

Heart of Texas Lab Rescue began as the passion of Dick and Luanne Lindsey who provided these Labs a kennel facility on their property.  It was a safe place for the dogs and provided a valuable central location for our supporters like you.  Unfortunately, the development of the Parmer Lane area caused us to lose this facility and our Founders moved to Arkansas.

Just like our amazing dogs, we adjusted and partnered with a boarding facility.  However, this was a costly solution and did not provide us the ability to quarantine new dogs.  An outbreak of Kennel Cough at that facility caused the friendly dissolution of this partnership.
Today we have a network of foster homes and provide temporary housing for new dogs at a Board member’s property outside of the Austin area.   Housing dogs on the Board Member’s property was only meant to be a temporary solution when we could no longer place dogs in the boarding facility.   Our dogs are spread across the city.  Our centrally located “meet and greet” location is about to be unavailable.  We need a permanent solution.
  • We need more volunteers.  We are extremely grateful of our volunteers and everything they do (from gift-wrapping to phone duty) but while we have a large volunteer database with over700 names, we struggle to place dogs in foster homes and a small group of individuals (Board Members and volunteers) carry a large burden for the organization.
  • We need a good location for meet and greets.  We are losing a central location for “meet and greet” activities and currently do not have another option.
  • We need new Board Members.  Board member turnover has been high (40% this past year).

Our Action Steps
We need to take action now to ensure we can continue to serve these precious dogs and our community.  We believe that this strategic planning process will help us to:

  • Develop a direction and plan forward so that we can continue saving the lives of these amazing Labradors.
  • Identify and implement a Board and Volunteer structure that will meet our current and future organizational needs.
  • Identify new methods and approaches for providing safe, transitional housing for these dogs until they find their forever home.
  • Foster a higher level of engagement from our supporters and community.
  • Identify and attract Board Members who have the necessary skills, experience and resources to support our cause.
  • Increase the awareness of our mission and ensure we have the right people, support, and funding to reach our aspirations.

How You Can Help
We plan to invite our current and some past Board members to a facilitated retreat in October (at no cost to the organization).  In preparation for that event, we need your input.

Whether you are an adopter, foster, volunteer, former volunteer, or donor, we want to hear from you.  Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts, comments, and suggestions with our facilitator by completing an online survey.  All survey responses are confidential and results will be combined and shared with our Board at our October retreat.
The link to the survey is (you may need to cut and past the link into a web browser) and will remain open until Thursday, September 20, 2013.

Thank you for being a part of the Heart of Texas Lab Rescue community.  We will keep you updated on the outcome of the retreat and of our future plans; we are doing everything we can to keep our organization’s doors open to rescue Labrador Retrievers.
Thank you in advance for your participation and support of our organization.

Margaret Huston
President, Heart of Texas Lab Rescue