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Team Lab: Our Perfect Family Match

This Post Is Sponsored By My Brand Partner, Royal Canin! As Always, All Opinions Are My Own! Thank You for Sponsoring CityGirlGoneMom & Team Lab: Our Perfect Family Match! 

Labrador and baby

The AKC National Championship

It’s that time of year again, friends! The AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin is broadcasting on Animal Planet on January 1st, and we cannot wait. Back to our pre-marriage days, this has been a family tradition for my husband and me, and now our kids are really into it, too. The AKC National Championship is the largest dog show in North America, with over 5,000 entries of 191 AKC recognized breeds from 49 states and 21 countries competing for more than $150,000 in prize money this year. The Schaffers can proudly say that we’re on #TeamLab, and in honor of our favorite New Year’s Day tradition, I’d love to share our story about Mabel with you.

Mabel, Our Silver Labrador Retriever

I’ve always loved the spirit of a lab, and our 3-year-old Silver Labrador Retriever, Mabel, is no exception. From her goofy stride, to her sweet overgrown puppy’s body, to her calm and cool disposition, she fits in perfectly with our family. Many young labs her age are boisterous and bouncing off the walls, but not Mabel. And thank goodness for that! With the noise and chaos that four kids (and a New York Italian Mama) can generate, it’s safe to say that we got pretty lucky with her. In fact, she’s so mellow, that we sometimes go out for a kid/dog friendly dinner, and proud to report that she’s better behaved than a certain three-year old that we know.

Labrador and baby

AKC National Championship & Royal CaninAKC National Championship Silver Lab AKC National Championship AKC National Championship AKC National Championship Silver Lab

Friendliest Dog Breed: Team Lab

Like our four kids who range in age from three to twelve, our two dogs have a significant gap in age as well. Shelby, our sweet and skittish Weimaraner, is ten years old, and we got Mabel as a puppy three years ago after our rescue dog Sam passed. At the same time, we were also blessed with our fourth child, Baby Brody, and many people thought we were crazy for bringing a puppy into the mix. We assumed that as a Labrador, she’d be a good fit for our family, but what we didn’t realize was how perfect of a match she’d turn out to be.

Brody and Mabel quickly became besties, even sharing the same cobalt blue eyes. Watching the two of them grow together has been the best! Now, growing out of her puppy phase, Mabel is starting to take on more mature characteristic, and she couldn’t be more fitting as Shelby enters her golden years. While many dogs Mabel’s age might take advantage of their aging elder’s fleeting appetite, we’ve seen a continued sense of care and compassion, especially during meal time when Mabel waits patiently for Shelby to finish eating, instead of gobbling up her food as some dogs would do. Labrador puppy and babyCute puppy labrador puppy and baby puppy and baby puppy and baby

Team Lab: Our Perfect Family Dog

Shelby’s not the only one who benefits from Mabel’s affection. Loyal, empathetic and a pillar of positivity, this dog has been a great source for comfort and protection for the entire family. In the midst of grief, we’ve recently seen a new side of Mabel, and we can sense that she 100% feels that we are hurting. During one of the most difficult times in our lives, she made sure we knew she was there by sleeping just outside of the bedroom door, instead of in her own bed downstairs. Her presence alone can make even the toughest days a bit brighter.

As the prominent twentieth century philosopher Martin Buber proclaimed, “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” In Mabel’s case, that language is unconditional love. To know her is to love her, and when I tell you she loves us right back, it’s more than a statement. It’s a feeling. Watching her and Baby Brody interact is such a treat. In their short lives, they’ve grown together, and share an unbreakable bond. They also share the biggest and most beautiful eyes of cobalt blue that, guaranteed, speak a language of their own.

AKC National Championship AKC National Championship AKC National Championship Lab puppy AKC National Championship AKC National Championship

The Perfect Family Dog

Active and outdoorsy, our older kids always keep Mabel on her toes, and she’s definitely proven that she can hang with the best of ‘em. Mabel’s love of play makes her a perfect match for our kids. From our back yard, to the nearby hiking trails and dog friendly beaches of San Diego, they are all pretty much living their best lives! And as a photographer, I selfishly love capturing those fleeting moments on camera. With her newfound maturity, this year, we’re hoping to take Mabel on her first trip to the mountains. By the time summer rolls around, she’ll be ready to take on new adventures with the family.

Mabel has been the perfect addition to our family in all aspects. If you’re a dog family, too, comment below and tell us what team you’re on! And don’t forget to tune in to Animal Planet on January 1st for the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin. Make it a New Year’s Day tradition!

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