Archive for December, 2006

Emma’s Ultrasound

Two days ago Emma and I had an adventure that ended much differently than planned. She is getting very large with still two plus weeks to go, so I thought there has to be more than six puppies in there. I intended to go to my office and see for myself.

First though, I had to stop by The Delivery Room to pick up some new office keys from my partner working there. It was an unusually quiet day, and so all the nurses were gathered together talking. When they heard Emma was in the car, they insisted on having her come visit and do her ultrasound there. In the elevator I bumped into my very distant cousin, Dr. Michel Bourque, who is a pediatric surgeon (Our family lines split off in the 1600’s but that is another story). He just happened to be looking for a dog, and also happened to have his camera with him. So in we all went. Emma didn’t recognize any familiar smells and so was nervous. Lisa, a golden owner and friend, helped me hold her for the study. Here are the results.

EmmaUS4.jpgEmmaUS3.jpg EmmaUS1.jpgEmmaUS10.jpg

The ultrasound machine shows three circular areas representing puppies inside their amniotic sacs. The close up photo printed shows two. I would guess that she is carrying at least 8 to 10 pups. Now we just need a safe arrival.

The Price of Gold


With the word of our Emma being pregnant, we are starting to get inquiries into the price of a puppy and a place on our list. Because of recent events in my missionary and breeding careers, I find it helpful to take nothing for granted and have become somewhat superstitious about anything going as expected. That being said, I do of course have thoughts on the price of things…

One of our recent callers thought the quoted price was high. Today’s society expects instant gratification and discounted services and products. Charge cards and business competition have allowed most of us here in the USA to satisfy our whims and desires with very little preparation or investment of time and energy. I am as guilty as everyone else, and use big box stores, generic medications, and competitive bids to save needed dollars. I have also been on the losing side in dealing with insurance companies who have managed to devalue my professional services for many years. Fixed discounted professional fees have replaced charges determined by your overhead and business costs.

Recently we made some landscape changes to our Farmington home to make it more dog friendly. With both the landscaping and fencing companies, however, each refused to make any concessions despite written and verbal communications. Because they are noted to be among the top people in their respective services, I grudgingly agreed to their higher prices. Now with the work done however, I can clearly see that a lot more skill and craftsmanship went into the projects than I ever anticipated. Both Barb and I are extremely happy with the outcome.

Medical Ministry International, the Texas based umbrella organization that sends out teams like ours to 33 plus countries all over the globe has a simple formula. For the office care that will be rendered, the cost is one day’s family income, whether that be in produce, chickens, or money. That way, the care is earned and not just received. Surgery is one month’s equivalent of income. And the care is limited to clearly defined poverty levels so that wealthier folks can’t cheat and get American care for a pittance. However no one is turned away if they are unable to meet this price. Also each provider on the team has to pay their way there, as well as a fee for the “luxury housing”, food, and missionary support. All told the cost of going there as a medical person approaches two thousand dollars. So both the patient and the practitioner have invested time, energy, and some sort of money. Medical Mission International feels that this formula creates respect on each side, and that the patient will appreciate the results even more. “Out of pocket costs” for the patient in the Dominican also involves the cost of their IV solutions for their surgery. When we did their preop consultation, we would determine if their surgery required one IV bag or two. Then they would go to the local pharmacy to pick up their required fluids for around 2$ a bag. There weren’t many medications stocked in the pharmacy but there were plenty of fluid bags when the medical team was in town.

Where was I?

The asking price of our puppies at this time is 1200$ plus 6% CT sales tax.

When I querried our mentor, Sydney Waller, she mentioned that her breeding friends are charging 1300$ to 1400$. One of my obstetrical patients was in the office recently and mentioned that her parents and sister had each gotten a golden retriever from the West Coast. They used the same breeder that Oprah had when Cesar Milan bought her her golden retrievers. The asking price was 3000$ to 4000$.

My puppy price philosophy stems from growing up in a family where every dollar was hard earned and quickly spent. I grew up with four younger sisters. Our then high school educated parents always had at least 3 to 4 jobs between them to support us all. My father didn’t want another mouth to feed and so he refused to let us get a dog. We had cats, and hamsters, and rabbits, and the occasional injured bird that was found in the neighborhood. But never a dog. So now one of my missions is to find a way to get puppies into younger families who have to make a real sacrifice to come up with the needed funds. So Barb and I have: the neighborhood discount, the patient discount, the repeat dog discount, the relative discount, and the special situation discount.

However, my accountant tells me now that we have an LLC corporation, we must at some point be profitable. That is a laugher at the moment. Let’s see, this year over three thousand dollars to get Emma through her infertility and insemination procedures. The cost of keeping our small family of females healthy and fit, and the needed changes to our home, is in the range of half a year private college tuition. The number of puppies this year to date: zero. Our accountant is not going to be happy.

One of our daughters, a city dweller, recently bought a pug puppy from the “reputable” puppy store in the area. The asking price was 1300$. Cute as a button, once she got the dog home, the problems began. The added vet bills from her not thriving initially, and having a number of medical problems added several hundreds of dollars to the initial cost, plus untold stress to my daughter.

I was browsing the Golden Retriever Club of America website that is linked on our website. They have a wealth of information on buying a puppy that includes a section on the prices charged. I would encourage all potential puppy owners to spend some time reading what they have to say.

My final thoughts though are that no matter what you buy your dog for, you are getting a bargain. A companion, exercise buddy, therapist, and best friend, there is always someone waiting to greet you with a wag of their tail and a cuddle when you get home. New adventures are always just a car ride away. Our Riley demonstrated that today when we were bringing our Christmas tree home in the dog van. As soon as the door opened and we got out, in she went . Tennis ball in her mouth she looked at me as if to say “let’s go there are adventures out there awaiting”.


The rewards of multiple moments like this every day are indeed… priceless.

Final Tribute to Abby


My family and neighborhood friends were well acquainted with our Abby. She was our first breeding female and a special friend to me. Because her three litters were our initial efforts at breeding, we had adventure after adventure that Barb and I still laugh about even now. When taking rides anywhere, she always pulled rank and rode shotgun in the front seat, never allowing any other dog to sit next to me. When we lost her to cancer, I felt I wanted to mark her passing by doing something special. The creation of this web site has allowed me to do just that.

Here are some of my favorite photos showing her calm nature and strong maternal instincts. She was also never too far away from a tennis ball and could play catch and fetch until she wore you out.

Celeste and Dana Rockel (my website gods) and I have put something together to add to Abby’s tribute.


Called Abby’s message, I hope to convey the essence of what loving and sharing your life with a golden retriever or any dog for that matter can mean.

When we travel to Vermont another of her pups rides shotgun with me now, while other of her pups climb the same hills and roads we once traveled. It is not quite the same as having her by my side but her spirit lives on in them and in me. Click this link to see: Abby’s Message

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