A Little Red Wagon and the Search for the Perfect Puppy

Growing up in the 1950’s was a very different time from the chaotic, frenetic, multitasked world of today. The only thing that required batteries was a flashlight. The only way you kept time in those days of simple childhood days was that you had to be home when the street lights came on. There were no parents hovering just out of eyesight or cell phone contact, because there were no gadgets, and your parents were too busy working their two jobs just to put food on the table. One of my first means of transportation was a “little red wagon” that everyone in the neighborhood had. These were the days before you were old enough to have some real freedom with a bike. I have clear memories of my sisters pulling a red wagon filled with their dolls going to visit their friends down the street. I remember myself piling my few possessions of metal trucks and tin soldiers and bringing everything to the sandbox at one of my friend’s home. So whether your wagon was a red American Flyer model with a metal platform with big black wheels like mine, or like the wooden version above, for us older folks it is one of those enduring symbols of a simpler and very innocent time.

So I was moved when one of our prospective clients came to visit our puppies with this special photograph.

Every family that visits our home looking for a dog has a story. Some stories are more compelling than others, but each has merit that is listened to and respected. This mother and her now teenage son told the story of recently losing their best canine friend. After years of friendship, their “Lexy Girl” had passed on leaving a huge hole in their lives.

From that first photograph above you can see that she had an elegance about her with an especially beautiful coat. They were hoping to find that special puppy that would most likely have her look.

Now if you are a Christian, you probably go through that ritual at Christmas time where you go to find that “perfect Christmas tree”. When your children are still at home, the task is more arduous because everyone has to weigh in. What starts out in your mind as a warm Jimmy Steward adventure, ends up usually with everyone cold and squabbling. Even now with just Barb and I home, finding that special tree sometimes means visiting three or four places, and then ending back with the first location, picking the tree that you thought about first. And you are lucky if you are still talking!

Picking a puppy from different breeders is not so different, although now with temperament testing and numbered choices to match the families, the process is changed. Gone is that special moment of first eye contact where the puppy and you choose each other. Instead, with the advance of genetics, the litters are usually very similar in temperament and color and coat. You are assigned a healthy puppy that will be the best fit. That is if you go to a breeder who makes a science out of doing their task correctly, rather than someone selling pups in the newspaper.

We regard our puppies as our canine children. From our blog stories you know the attention and hard work that is lavished on our charges. So it is sometimes difficult to accept that your pups do not fit “the look”, “the color”, or the “size” that a family is searching for. This family did not find their special pup among our little ones. The initial reaction is usually to take offense, but on further reflection, Barb and I thought back to our underlying philosophy. Barb and I do this for the love of the breed. We do this work to make golden retriever lovers among children who will grow up and carry on our passion. And this unique quest for that perfect puppy shown in the photo really moved my spirit. So..

I asked her if I could copy her photo. And I also asked her if by any chance she still had that special red wagon. She did. And she was kind enough to drop it off for this story. She is now a new friend, still on her quest, but a golden friend nonetheless. We wish her well in her search and we are confident that she and her son will recognize that special puppy when it crosses their path.

I hope you enjoyed this story that had a lesson for me. But I want to end with a smile on everyone’s face, so before I brought her wagon back to her, I took a few photos of our crew, big and little. All who thought maybe they could fit the bill of being that “perfect puppy”.

Wishing you all a happy autumn weekend!


One Comment on “A Little Red Wagon and the Search for the Perfect Puppy”

  1. Mare Says:

    Dr. Bourque,

    Again, I am left with tears in my eyes after reading your latest story. You have a magnificent way with words!

    We have one of those same red wagons down in our basement! My Dad, who passed away in 1996, bought it for our daughter for her first birthday, and when our son came along, he used it too! It holds many fond memories for Jay and I, remembering our children in it, being pulled around! Thank you for letting us relive those wonderful times!!!

    Warm regards,

    Mare

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