Tis' The Season to Remember: Pets Aren't Presents


Movies portray cuddly puppies with red bows around their neck popping out from Christmas boxes under ornament laden trees. Starry eyed children, or smitten soulmates gaze into the eyes of those pups and think, “ahhh what a perfect present.”

While getting a puppy for Christmas may sound like the perfect gift, it also may be a case where good intentions turn quickly into bad ideas. This is especially true as the magnitude of owning a pet sinks in.

A few hours later reality sets in. Presents are destroyed by chewing teeth. Tree skirts are soiled by poorly timed potty-breaks.  And no preparation for a pup was made beyond the surprise. This sort of gift giving can really spring you into the deep end of the pool of pet ownership without the preparation.

We may think someone is ready for a puppy or needs the companionship, but the truth is many people may not be ready for the responsibility and expenses that come along with pet ownership. Many people would much rather pick out their own pets and make sure it fits the characteristics and personality they desire.

The reality of owning a pet is that once the red bow is removed some serious investments must be made not just emotionally but financially as well.

Some Expenses Gift Givers Don't Consider

  • Veterinary care and vaccinations
  • Preventative medication for flea, tick, and Heartworm
  • Food and treats
  • Grooming and training expenses
  • Bedding, toys, and crates
  • Boarding, pet sitters, or dog walkers

Beyond the expense of the dog is also the care giving, the energy, and effort that goes into making a dog a part of your home. Unfortunately, not everyone is well prepared for this. And the most devastating effect of gifting a dog for the holidays is when families decide it was an ill-conceived adventure and give up their pet to a shelter or rescue.

The Consequences

Every year, once the magic of the holidays wears off pets are dropped off at shelters like clockwork.  Too many people do not realize the full responsibility of a pet when they decide to gift them.  They get caught up in the moment and think the spontaneity of a unique gift is all that matters. The truth is, animals are not toys to be gifted. They are living breathing beings that have a complexity of considerations to weigh before taking them into your home. 

Impulsiveness vs Preparation

A dog should never be an impulse buy. Adding a pet to your home should be something that is thoroughly considered from all angles, and each family member’s perspective. Some simple questions to ask of the whole family that will help you determined whether or not you are ready to bring a dog, or any pet for that matter, into your home are:

  • Who is going to feed and walk the dog?
  • Who is going to clean up after the dog?
  • Where is the dog going to sleep?
  • With all the family activities, how long will the dog be home alone each day?
  • How will you train a dog?
  • How much do you think a dog will cost you each year taken into account expenses listed above?
  • And does that fit your budget?
  • What becomes of the dog as the children get older or you add another child to the family?
  • Where will the dog go if you go on vacation or move permanently?

Once all these questions are answered and you’ve figured out how a new dog will fit into your family - not just under the Christmas tree, but for the years to come as an integrated part of your household - then it’s time to go look for your new dog. 

Always remember, when you are ready to add a furry family member, adopt don’t shop. It may take longer to find the right dog to add to your family, especially if you work with Lu’s Labs. But in the end, the best gifts are worth waiting for.

5 Pro Tips on Adopting a New Dog

Adopting a dog from a rescue is one of the most exciting and heart-warming things you can do for a dog who has been dealt a rough hand in life.

 If you are like us here at Lu’s Labs, you think a dog is supposed to have a warm comfortable place to sleep indoors. Preferably on cushy pillows or even on the end of a bed…sometimes in the middle. Bonus if they get to relax on couches, and a dog bed is a must.  Meals and treats that are healthy and consistent so there’s never a pang of starvation in their bellies. While also being mindful of not allowing your furry friend to put on too much weight. Lots of toys, people, and playtime to entertain them and exert their energy. Which also can cut down on mischief since they are too tired to get into the things they aren’t supposed to. And the most important thing a dog should have is love. This can consist of pats, scratches, and a general appreciation for their presence in our lives.

This is the recipe for a loyal happy companion. But sadly, not all dogs start out their path in life with these wonderful things. This is why every rescue dog may come with their own set of circumstances that can make adjusting to a new home take differing amounts of time for different dogs. Here are 5 pro tips that will help you and your new furry companion get through this adjustment period.

1. Be Prepared – When you bring a new dog into your home, make sure you have all the things a dog will need like bowls, beds, healthy food, a crate if needed, toys, training snacks, leashes and collars, a tag with your name, address and phone number on it and other items that can help making the adjustment period easy. Here’s a good list on our site that will help you decide what you may need. (Link to other post on Lu’s Labs)

2. Schedules – You and your new dog are not going to know each other’s routines, or even each other’s signs. There may be accidents in the beginning as you adjust to potty schedules and learn how to read the signs. From the beginning, it can be important to establish schedules. Dogs are creatures of habit, so by feeding and walking at the same time daily you can start to instill a schedule that you will both grow to understand. For more information on setting up cues this is a great training article.

3. Introductions – There are all kinds of introductions that will happen when you bring your new pup home, and begin to integrate them into your life. It could be other pets – dogs, cats, or even the family rodent! Children. Neighbors. Just think of all the introductions that can happen as your circle expands. When introducing new people and animals taking your time is always important. With other animals in the house, it’s a good idea to have separate spaces, gated off areas, or even allowing animals their own rooms so they can adjust to the new smells of each other through gates and doors.

With small children, babies, and toddlers, it’s a must to supervise these interactions as everyone is getting to know each other. Keeping your dog on a leash so you can have better control will help you decide of excited wiggles, jumping, or running through the house will be a safety issue for the little humans. It’s also important to teach kids about your dog’s personal space, understanding the signs to back off, and not placing a dog in an uncomfortable or defensive situation. For more on introducing your dog to a cat, check out this article. for more information on introducing dogs to children, this article is helpful.

4. Training Tune-Up – Consider seeking out a positive training class or one-on-one session with a trainer to help you and your new companion get used to each other. Sometimes as people we need as much training as dogs do, to understand their needs and learn how to create the best interactions we can with our new dogs. Training and agility classes help you bond. You can reach out to your adoption coordinator and get a list of Lu's Labs approved trainers in your area.

5. Patience – If there is one thing that can be more important than anything else when adopting a rescue, it is patience. Understanding that this is a completely new environment for your dog, and in some cases rescue dogs have never had a warm secure place and humans to call their own, is an important part of the new adoption process. There’s no way of knowing the life experiences your dog has had before you. But taking time to understand they may not all have been positive, and very likely were not, will give you a better handle on dealing with behavior, and tempering your expectations. Rarely is a pup perfect from the moment they walk in the door. Adjustments to the way you live may need to happen as you transition and train a dog to be a member of your family. But the biggest reward comes when you don’t give up. When you utilize resources, recommendations, and research to help your dog adjust to its new life.

Good luck on your journey as a new dog owner! Every dog should have a warm, safe, loving home to call their own!



Common Foods That Can Be Toxic to Your Dogs

With the Holiday Season upon us, there may be more than the usual temptations in the kitchen ready to entice even the best dogs into raiding the trash, or surfing the counter tops. It’s important to understand that foods that have no effect on us humans can be poisonous to dogs.  Some of the most commonly used ingredients can have adverse effects on your dog’s health so make sure you know what they are early on when you introduce a furry friend to your family.

Chocolate – This is probably one of the most common food items that pet owners are familiar with as harmful to their pets. And from Halloween through the New Year there’s probably a higher concentration of these delights in the home. Large amounts of cocoa can kill your dog, due to the theobromine in the chocolate. The darker the chocolate the heavier the concentration of this component.

Xylitol – This artificial sweetener can be present in gum, candy, toothpaste, and even some peanut butters as well as other processed foods. This substance is extremely toxic to dogs and even small amounts can cause seizures, liver failure, or death. It’s important to check the ingredients of packaged foods and keep them away from your pets.

Grapes (and raisins) – While it’s still a mystery as to what exactly the toxin is in this popular fruit, even small amounts of grapes and raisins can be toxic to dogs, the fact remains that some dogs experience kidney damage and even kidney failure. The reasons why some dogs are affected and others are not, is a topic of research.

Garlic, Onion, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and Leaks – With soup season warming up, these are so common in cooking, and easy for a dog to get into when browsing through your trash.  More than .5% of your dog’s body weight (Cats are even more sensitive) can be toxic to your dog. It can cause anemia, pale mucus membranes, and weakness.

Coffee, Tea, Coffee Grounds, and Tea Bags – The caffeine present in these substances is toxic to dogs and is a cousin chemical to the toxicity found in chocolate. Even 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death to small dogs and cats. It’s important to keep all these away from your fur babies.

Salt – Another common component we use every day in our foods can be harmful to dogs in large quantities. Too much salt can cause sodium ion poisoning.  Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures.

Walnuts – While it’s best to stay away from all nuts because of their fatty content. Black walnuts native to the Northeastern US and Canada are especially toxic to dogs and horses. Old walnuts from a tree can cause dogs to develop tremors and seizures from walnut hulls that are moldy and contain penitrem A.

Macadamia Nuts – These are also a toxic nut that your dog should stay away from also causing tremors, lethargy and hyperthermia.

Alcohol – Tis’ the season to be merry, and that can come with alcohol. A dog’s liver is much more sensitive than our livers, and thus the effects of alcohol can be much more severe

Apple Seeds, Apricot Pits, Cherry Pits, Plum Pits, and Peach Pits – These fruits themselves are not harmful to dogs, though too much natural occurring sugar, as is found in fruit, can cause weight gain in your pet. It’s the seeds and pits you need to stay away from. With the pits, there are obvious dangers such as choking hazards and bowel blockage. But there is also poison contained in these seeds and pits. Amygdlin, which is a form of cyanide is found in the seeds and pits, and in large quantities can cause acute poisoning, or in small amounts over time, your dog can suffer from chronic poisoning. Cyanide prevents the blood from carrying oxygen throughout the body.

The leaves and stems of many vegetables in large quantities such as potato, rhubarb, tomatoes, peaches, peppers, and others. For more information check out the Solanaceae family. These plants contain Solanine which can cause sever gastrointestinal distress.

There are lots of foods that are actually beneficial to your dogs. When in doubt it’s best to research whether something is going to be helpful or harmful to your dog. We hope this list is helpful.


New Doggie Checklist

Whether you are a first-time dog owner, or a seasoned expert, it never hurts to have a list of things you need, things to do, and things you may want when you first get a new dog from a rescue. This quick checklist is designed to go with Lu’s Labs and some of our philosophies of dog ownership.

Quality Food – You may want to change the food from the rescue, this all depends on preference.

Treats – Think about having training treats, dental treats, Kongs for stuffing, and rewards on hand.

Bowls – Having their own dedicated bowls or feeders for food and water.

Dog Bed(s) – This may help with training so that a dog knows where their “spot” is.

Toys – Tug toys, throw toys, plush toys, puzzle toys! The list of toys is endless.

Crate – This can be a safe space for your dog since dogs are den creatures. It’s not meant as a place of punishment.

Crate pad – Something soft in your dog’s crate if they are going to spend any time there.

Gate – This may be an alternative to crating, or just a way to keep your dog out of the cat box.

Personalized Tags – Tag’s with your name, number, and information if your dog gets lost

Collar – Collars should not be prong, shock collars – the Martingale collar is recommended

Harness – Easy walk harnesses can help keep your dog from pulling while walking

Leash – One to two 4-6 foot leashes. In the beginning, you may want to double leash your dog, until you know them better to prevent slipping a collar and running away. No retractable leashes – they are not good for training, discipline, and can cause injuries to people and pets.

Poop Bags – These don’t have to be the expensive kind, but remember you will be picking up after your new dog. Poop bags will come in handy especially on walks.

Pet Car Restraints – Everything from car harnesses to tethers can be helpful for your new dog. These are safety devices that help keep your pup safe when stopping short, and keep them from running from the car when you open the door or hatch.

Vet – Have your vet set up ahead of time before you adopt.

First Visit – Take your dog to see the vet for a complete check-up within 7-10 days of your adoption.

Microchip – Make sure to get the microchip changed into your name.

Pet Insurance – With dogs, there is no telling what kinds of things you may encounter with their health as they age. Deciding on pet insurance can save costly bills in the future.

Spay/Neuter – If your adopting a puppy, the spay and neuter will be part of your responsibility. Adult dogs will come to you with this already done.

Monthly Preventative – We can’t stress enough, year around heart worm preventative and flea and tick preventative. Talk with your vet.

Training – For puppies and dogs under 3 from Lu’s Labs training is a must, but training is a good idea for any new dog so that everyone can get to know each other and work on reinforcing good behavior. We only allow positive methods of dog training with Lu’s Labs.

Grooming Kits – Brushes, combs, nail clippers, canine tooth brush, canine tooth paste (Make sure there is no Xylitol in tooth paste) doggie shampoo.

Non-toxic Cleaners – Find enzymatic odor neutralizers, and non-toxic cleaners to use on accidents.

Patience – Above all else, remember what you can bring to the table with your new dog is patience and understanding. There is always an adjustment period with a new rescue.

We hope this list has been helpful!

Guest Post: When Luisa incorporated a love of animals into her life, dogs in shelters gained a new champion.

Original post written by Nina Biggar Del Vecchio on April 26, 2017

When grief over the loss of a beloved pet needs to be channeled and your love of animals runs deep, you get forces of nature like Luisa Paucchi starting a foster based dog rescue in Alexandria, VA. Since taking this on in 2015 Luisa and her devoted team of volunteers have saved at least a couple hundred dogs (some quite sick and needing immediate medical attention) and brought so much joy to the families who were lucky enough to be entrusted with this new family member.

Luisa has been saving homeless animals since she was just a little girl (including a monkey!) but her love for Labradors began in 1999 when she welcomed Petey into her home and heart.

Her first dog transport over-night turned into a week-long emergency foster and she was so hooked she never looked back. After several years of being involved in every aspect of animal rescue…from transporting to fostering, adoption and foster coordinating, joining a rescue to understand the ins and outs, and then to independent rescue, she finally decided to take a huge leap of faith and begin her own animal rescue. Lu’s Labs was born in February 2015 and this endeavor is the culmination of her lifelong dream.  Lu’s Labs likes to focus on dogs in the South that are in high-kill shelters, but we will pull from anywhere we see a need.

Follow Lu’s Labs and the wonderful stories of these dogs – you’ll be surprised at how attached one can get to these dogs via pictures and stories!

Devote is a community-powered platform where individuals and businesses share stories about giving via financial donations, volunteering, or pro bono support.

Devote exists to help us share stories of how we give, where we give, and why. Devote believes every giving action matters, no matter the size. Because good begets good – so join us and inspire some serious good! Register to start sharing your stories and experiences of volunteerism, to highlight the causes most meaningful to you, to shine light on your favorite organizations.

We want to hear about your contribution so sign on now! 


Volunteer Spotlight - Donna McClaugherty

Donna and Blitzen.jpg

Lu’s Labs likes to spotlight the amazing people who make this rescue work. We have the most dedicated and caring people you will find from the south to the north.

This month, let’s talk about puppies and adoption coordinators. Donna McClaugherty, from Gainesvillle, VA, wears several hats here at Lu’s Labs. She is the Director of AC Training, she is the Puppy Coordinator, and she is also a foster. In the last two years, Donna has helped 78 adopters find their fur-ever lab friends.

Donna found her way into Lu’s Labs when a friend simply asked her to “like the Facebook page”.  Little did she know that two years later she’d be in integral part of the volunteers here at our rescue. She initially answered Luisa’s plea for adoption coordinators, and the rest was history. “I own my own full-service travel company, Cruise and Travel by Donna, and when I realized Lu’s Labs was willing to work around my travel schedule it made volunteering easy.”

The team work, and being part of a great rescue, is what keeps Donna taking on more and more responsibility. “Some days are crazier than others, especially if I am fostering,” says Donna. “My day consists of booking travel for my clients, calling vets and personal references, and then more travel.” At night Donna usually can be found on the phone again doing interviews, and once or twice a month she trains new Adoption Coordinators. (AC’s) And of course, when she has a foster in the house then play time is a must.

Her resident bonded yellow labs, Bailey and Bacardi don’t give much notice to the fosters that come through her home. “They really ignore my fosters after the initial meeting.” They are very laid back couch potatoes and prefer not to play with other dogs.” But they are very tolerant of visitors so they make it a good environment to host new dogs.

With all of Donna’s hats, you can’t forget the Puppy List! Donna keeps track of all the puppy requests and litters that are coming into Lu’s Labs so that she can match baby fur balls to their new homes. This is just one of the many rewarding things about being a volunteer. “It makes me feel so good to help rescue these pups,” Says Donna, referring to older and young pups alike. “Some of the stories are heartbreaking and I feel so good when I give them a happily ever after.”

Since Donna is both an AC and a Foster, she knows what it’s like through every aspect of the adoption process with Lu’s Labs. Over the last two years she has fostered 11 adult dogs and several litters of puppies. “My little volunteer job has grown in the past two years but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Whether you want to get involved in fostering, or become a match maker between Lu’s Labs and their families, Donna is a great resource and loves what she does.

If you’d like more information on becoming a foster, or an adoption coordinator please reach out and talk with us. Committing to just even one dog to foster at a time helps us save lives, and the more adoption coordinators we have, the quicker we can match applicants up with the dog of their dreams.



Volunteer Spotlight - Stacy Eagles

Stacie Eagles.jpg

Lu’s Labs likes to spotlight the amazing people who make this rescue work. We have the most dedicated and caring people you will find from the south to the north.

Our Volunteer Spotlight features Stacie Eagle, one of our southern fosters from Louisiana.

Fostering animals since age seven, she’s been with Lu’s Labs since 2016.


A day in the life at Stacie’s home is busy. At any given time, she has between two and eight fosters – even more if she has puppies. Not only is Stacie an amazing foster mom, she also has kids, and teaches.

While life may be crazy at times, the rewards of being able to help save animals and give them a better life comes from her heart. “I have my own personal zoo,” says Stacie. “My pups range
from 90 pounds to 8 pounds, male and female, playful to grouchy! They are used to the
revolving door and wouldn’t know what to do if we didn’t have guests!” With dogs, a cat, and 7
chickens, this diversity is a great personality test for foster dogs.

One of the most rewarding aspects of rescue for Stacie is watching dogs come out of their shell. “It is amazing to see a dog with such broken spirits see that humans are kind, food is plentiful, and they are safe. It’s as if you can see them exhale and just relax. They know they are finally going to be okay,” says Stacie.

Fostering is a part of Stacie’s DNA. She points out that every doggie kiss is worth a lost flip flop or two or picking up piles of poop. The pros far outweigh the cons. For Stacie saving a life and giving a lab a chance at a new home is worth it.

Her best advice for newbie fosters, “If you love them, let them go. A foster cannot be selfish.”
Several have taken a piece of her heart with them. “People always say, ‘I couldn’t give them up,’
and many times, I don’t want to. But, I know that if I love them, I must. They deserve to be
someone’s star!” With each dog Stacie preps for its new home and their journey north, she
opens up another space for the next lab. 

If you’d like information on becoming a Lu’s Lab Foster, please let us know.  Committing to even one dog at a time helps saves lives.