Chocolate is a chocolate Labrador and family pet that pays his own veterinary bills. Pictured from left is Lydia Currey, Chocolate and Joseph Currey.
Chocolate, a chocolate Labrador retriever, was rescued from a pound in Salem, Mo., in July 2007, by the parents of Tracy Currey of Kennett. The dog was then given to the Currey family for adoption. When he arrived at his new family's home, Chocolate was starved to the point that his ribs could be counted visually, Currey said.
The family cared for the dog, nursing him back to health over time.
One day while playing outside, Currey realized that Chocolate was good at playing fetch.
"I continued to work with Chocolate with decoys in the yard and he picked up with very little training," Currey said.
Recently, Chocolate developed a growth on his neck that needed to be seen by a veterinarian, but the family was pressed for cash because of economic conditions. Chocolate's appointment was around the same time as the Missouri Waterfowl Festival in Kennett.
Currey does not duck hunt, but heard of the retrieving contest and decided to put Chocolate into the competition with professionally trained canines.
In the competition, 3-year-old Chocolate was able to win third place and $45, which was about the amount of the vet bill, Currey said.
"Since the competition, several people have offered to buy Chocolate from us, but he is not for sale," Currey said.