WITH a winning attitude, fine intellect, dogged loyalty, super cute looks and adorable big brown eyes, 12-year-old Olivia is the poster girl for Labradors everywhere.
The former Seeing Eye Dog Australia trainee and adored pooch of the Kleisterlee family from Winslow doesn’t know it, but she’s one of 579 registered Labradors in the Warrnambool and Corangamite region.
Research by The Standard has found that residents across the region have, like the rest of Australia, embraced the golden, yellow and chocolate bundles of fun as they’re number one pick when it comes to puppy paws.
With 366 registered Labs in Warrnambool and 213 registered in Corangamite, the symbol of guide dogs across the globe is top of our dog breed ladder.
Rounding out the south-west’s top five are the Jack Russell/fox terrier with 578 registered, the kelpie (502), Maltese shih-tzu/ terrier (359) and the border collie (241).
Cross breeds are popular as well, 241 among Warrnambool’s 5042 registered dogs.
The Labrador is the preferred choice of dog for organisations that train canines to aid blind and autistic people — a role which Olivia once aspired.
And while she didn’t quite make the Seeing Eye Dog Australia grade, her co-owner, and dog trainer, Laura Wynd, who organises Warrnambool’s Sit Stay Good Dog social media site and training group, said her family’s canine companion lived up to many of the expectations dog lovers expect of the breed.
The three-child family of Geraldine and Paul Kleisterlee welcomed Olivia into their home with open arms and quickly recognised her potential as a companion and trick master.
“She’s been brilliant,” Mrs Wynd said.
“Over the years we’ve had other dogs come in and out of the family — she’s pretty-much mothered a good five or six other dogs, taught them the rules and the do’s and don’ts and that kind of thing and she’s just taken everything in her stride.
“She’s been absolutely brilliant — she’s a very intelligent dog too.”
Mrs Wynd, a former Seeing Eye Dog Australia trainer and National Dog Trainers Federation course graduate, said there was a lot to love about the breed.
“They’re definitely an ideal dog for the job they’ve got to do,” she said. “They’re highly-handler motivated and oriented.
“They just seem to have that ability to fit in.’’
Macarthur dog breeder Linda Malseed said she wasn’t surprised that Labradors ruled the roost in the south-west.
Mrs Malseed, who has been breeding Labs since 1978, has four adults and two puppies at home.
“I always say every kid deserves a Labrador because they have wonderful temperaments if they’re bred right, they’re eager to please, they train really easy if you put the work into them — they’re just a lovely all round dog,”Mrs Malseed said.
Moyne Shire Council was unable to provide a breakdown of breeds in the shire.