Ebon the Labrador

Age eight and a half, June 2013

PitaPata Dog tickers

Ebon is one of the main recurring topics seen on this blog. He is my dog. Though not the first one I have had in my life, he is the first one that I can truly call "mine."
For more on Ebon, check out the posts tagged with his name.

Ebon is a black mismark Labrador retriever from field stock who was born on January 14, 2005. I actually received him from his breeder free of charge when I was a Junior in high school (long story). I knew him nearly from birth, and I am glad I was able to go through such an experience. It's amazing how he changed from a tiny whimpering ball of fuzz to the handsome, lean, eighty-five pound fellow he is now. His parents (a yellow father and a chocolate mismark mother) were working duck dogs, and he definitely has the instincts it would take to follow in their footsteps. However, he has not been trained to do that job and instead is my loyal companion. He follows me everywhere and will do anything for me if I ask him to. He was eligible for AKC registration when I got him, but I decided to not register him. He is neutered.

Ebon's coloration is a near constant topic of fascination to me. Though at first glance he appears solid black, he does have very dark red markings on his legs. Mismark Labradors usually will have markings that are far less subtle than this, but Ebon inherited his mother's hint of red. My best guess is that he's a black and brindle who happens to have an awful lot of stripes.

Overall, Ebon is quite healthy. However, like so many purebreds he has had his health problems. When he was a puppy he had chronic ear infections, which luckily cleared up around the time he reached the age of two. He has not had an infection since. More traumatic has been the discovery that he is epileptic. Again, luckily, the seizures are really quite minor and he does not require regular medication.

Ebon's Food
For some time now, I've been making references to what I feed Ebon. He eats kibble. I've addressed kibble in general as well as specific foods that I have tried. This category also includes canned, home made, and raw foods, though these are unusual additions to his diet.
For more this subject, see the posts tagged "dog food."

Ebon's Things
I blog fairly regularly reviewing dog items of all sorts. This category is basically any item other than dog food, including treats and chews. Many have proved to be great for Ebon and some of which have turned into my favorite dog things.
For more on this subject, see the posts tagged "dog things."

A very dirty Ebon at the dog park
Adventures with Ebon
As often as possible, I try to take Ebon out for more than just a simple walk. These are what I like to call our adventures. So far, the list of new places I have taken him since I started this blog is getting a bit long. These are usually parks or trails, but occasionally another interesting trips makes it into the mix.
For more on this subject, see the posts tagged "adventures."

Ebon's Trick List
One of my favorite things to do with my pets has been teaching them fun tricks. I have taught numerous tricks to several animals at this point, including some to a cat. However, Ebon is my trainee of choice, and he's the sort of dog that lives to please. I use only positive training methods with lots of treats when he's first learning the trick, and then lots of love and play once he's got it down.

Here's the current list of commands he knows:
  • Here (come)
  • Sit
  • Down
  • Wait/Stay
  • On Your Side (basically play dead)
  • Head Down (place head to ground when in On Your Side)
  • Roll Over
  • Shake (left paw)Paw (right paw)
  • Touch (nose to hand)
  • Spin (counterclockwise)
  • Other Way (spin clockwise)
  • Balance (treat on nose)
  • Catch (catch treat from nose)
  • Stand Up
  • Up (stand on hind legs and touch hand)
  • Back
  • Forward
  • Crawl
  • Come Up (jump onto surface)
  • Go Bed (go sit in dog bed)
  • Kennel Up
  • Load Up (get in car)
  • Gentle (take treat, etc. politely)
  • Easy (move forward slowly)
  • Watch Me
  • Get Your Ball
  • Get Your Toy
  • Go Get It (basically Fetch)
  • Bring It Here (clapping is the alternate command/signal)
  • Drop It
  • Weave (through polls)
  • Tunnel
  • Hup (jump over hurdle)
  • Bow
  • Through (weave through legs)
  • Wipe Wipe (wipe paws on mat)
  • Paws Up (put paws on indicated surface)
  • Pray
  • Sad Puppy (lower face to floor, either in Down or Bow)
  • Push Push (close indicated door)
  • Take It (take offered item)
  • Hold It (keep item in mouth)
  • Shake Off (shake to dry, useful after bathing and swimming) 
  • On By (ignore distraction and keep walking, usually used for squirrels)
He also knows the words Hungry, Thirsty, Outside, Inside, Go Pee, Do Your Business, Chewie, Treat/Yummy, Kitty, and Play

After a long training break, I'm working on training and/or re-training a number of tricks:
  • Nod
  • Say No (shake head)
  • Shy (turn head away)
  • Carry (carry an item in his mouth)
  • Walkies (carry own leash) this one is taking a while to shape!
  • Tug
  • Open It (tug on rope to pull door open)
I would love to get suggestions for things to teach him next! Please don't suggest Speak or Sit Pretty/Beg because he rarely barks and he's awfully big to learn Sit Pretty (tried to teach it and it's been my only failure).


  1. Something else that is useful to train (specially in a very small house with a bullmastiff and 2 pitbulls) is: LIVINGROOM: go to livingroom and stay. KITCHEN: go to kitchen and stay. GO THERE: Going to where you are pointing and laying down. WAIT: we use this to have them wait for going in or out of the car, inside the house, staying at a distance, or waiting when something exciting is happening (such as an overexcited or violent acting dog going by, or an over burdened person leaving the store, vets, doggie beauty salon, basically when you need them to stop for a second before doing what they were going to do. LEAVE IT: for those tempting treats that can be found on the ground or in the little kids hands. and for the bullmastiff alone WATCH: he helps to watch the kids keeping them in the yard by gently turning them. He also knows all the above and more using (homemade kid friendly) hand signals. So that even the smallest child that can do the signals can tell him what to do, no touching involved :D The bullmastiff has taught himself a few tricks too! Like helping the ferrets escape, being Godmother to (what he is sure are) orphan bunnys (he pouts when I tell him he may not take the babies out and lick or carry them around). Learning how to get to mom no matter what obstacles are in his way and making sure that he is never more then 30ft away even if someone one has nummy treats and his leash (disgruntling to his admirers who would love to walk him, he also is a great husband finder as he will ALWAYS come to me if I call even if he has to drag dad or dad's CAR!) He has also taught himself to be my helper. I have balance issues and pain from a car accident, the worse I feel the closer he stays. I can not even keep count how often he has saved me from falling! I love your trying of various dog foods :) Thank you!!

  2. I know this is a bit late but teach him hand signals, i.e. put your hand up, palm towards him = stay, hand toward him palm down then lowering your palm = lay down, etc. No doubt you can think of a lot more. The "stay" saved my labs life when I crossed the road and she got distracted and stayed behind, she was about to cross after me with cars coming hither and thither when I noticed and gave the "stay" signal. I hadn't realised how important it was till then. Great dogs aren't they.

  3. you sho write an srtical about ebon's teeth and show off your dogs missing molar

  4. A good one is "go find".
    I taught my Border Collie that and I can use it on objects or people.

    Its useful when we go hiking in the woods and I get separated from the others, or someone gets separated from the group. The dog of course will always be somewhere within earshot or line of sight (he's much more reliable than a human hiking partner!) so I can call for him and ask him to "go find ". He'll run off and track them then return to me and lead me to them.

    I trust my dog's sense of direction and ability to find people far better than my own.
    I also use this trick for when I've lost something the dog knows the name of (e.g. his lead / harness, my bag, my keys etc). He either remembers better than I do where I left it or he sniffs it out...Either way I find it much faster with his help :)

  5. It is interesting to read about your Ebon as I also have an Ebon. He is a 9 yo black lab cross golden retriever. Like you Ebon is the first dog that I would call mine and he introduced me to the world of dog training and for most of his life we have competed in flyball.