Archive for October, 2008

Rocky’s Forever Home

Rocky, as some of you already know, went to our son Michael Jr. in Maryland last weekend. Barbara took him in a crate and met with Mike and Emma and their two boys Ethan and Alex in a park in NY. Also along was Emma’s mother who has been visiting from Mexico. Her name is Emma as well. I was on call again,  so I couldn’t make the trip. We took some photos of the final fun time between Rocky and his mom that morning..

I think his presence for the extra four weeks that it took him to recover from his surgery, helped Emma adjust well to the loss of the rest of her litter.

The meeting of the puppy with our son’s family went beautifully. The photos say it all as far as the excitement and happiness he brought to our little grandsons.

And, of course, now I have some new family poses to add to the wall in my office..

I have no doubt Rocky will grow up with an abundance of love and boyhood energy!

Now for some housekeeping..

My next three weeks will be taken up with getting ready for, and then going to the Dominican Republic for my annual mission adventure. I find it now necessary to shutter the camera and turn off the public lights on dogville for this upcoming time frame. This third world trip has been a year in the planning and much depends on its success. It is taking over my every waking moment.

I am happy to report that we have accepted our first guest blog!! It is being finalized.  Publishing it requires some time and energy on my part to move it into this web site, so you will not see it until after I return. I still have unfinished business with the rest of the great folks who spent time with us around our little pen in the backyard or whelping box in the final weeks. Those photos await my attention as well as publishing the photos of our new owners when they came to pick up their puppy. So much to do and so little time to accomplish it all as usual.

So until I am back, golden hugs to everyone out there..

The Hand of God

I live an unusual profession. Guarding the unborn and their mothers from the random and often senseless strikes of mother nature against the survival of our kind. It is a world that hopeful parents to be and their family members are best ignorant of. But the battle goes on ceaselessly every day I put on my cloth armor of a white coat or scrubs. Our best weapons are the skills that have become second nature when you work 80 hours per week for thirty years doing the same thing every day. And my closest friends are the medical personnel who work side by side with me trying to accomplish as a team what you could never do as an individual.

But even to us seasoned and weary veterans, sometimes an event will occur that defies expectations or reality. After the fact, you sit back and reflect that what happened was beyond belief, and that meant there was a power higher than yours that made the difference.

This is one of these stories, and it has a happy ending that I will share with you first. When you are blessed to be part of a miracle, you need to let others know. Crazy as the world is, maybe there is a purpose for it after all..

This photo was taken in my office a week ago. I have permission from Ursulyn and Andry to share their story. The flowers reflect our happiness that she and her son have made a complete recovery from…

It started with a phone call while I was working in the Delivery Room. One of my partners phoned and told me one of our full term pregnant patients had arrived for her regular OB visit, and was having serious trouble breathing. He had called 911 and he told me she was being sent to the Delivery Room. I alerted the staff and we made preparations for whatever might be wrong. Minutes went by and no patient arrived. Then the ER called and said that she was being kept there for a serious medical condition. I hurried through several attached buildings to the ER and found bedlam.

In a regular examining room there was my patient, unconscious and trying to be ventilated by the ER staff. Staff from the Delivery Room and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit had just arrived and were watching with shock as she coded and CPR was begun. Like a preposterous scenario from the television series “ER” or “House”, I found myself in a situation where literally a minute or two was to make a difference whether that mother and baby lived or died. The fetal heart rate was present but dropping. Her husband was standing there watching in shock as I asked for a scalpel. Without taking time to do anything but put on a pair of gloves, I delivered the baby. The sound of a newborn cry was a very welcome sound to the large multitude of staff gathered outside the patient’s cubicle. Veterans all, but many crying from the reality of what was happening with that mother to be.

Without being overly dramatic, let me say that this was the first time that I had done an operation where there was no bleeding. Her heart had stopped and her blood was black. This was going to be a very bad outcome. As I closed her incision, the resuscitation team kept on with their heroic efforts. Multiple drugs were given at intervals to get her heart started. And then, someone called out that she had a heart rhythm, and then a pulse. The blood turned bright red again. But nine minutes had passed since her heart had stopped. The question was: would she wake up, and what kind of condition would she be in?

She was transferred to the ICU where a battery of specialists determined that she had developed a very unusual heart condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy. Her heart muscle had slowly weakened over the week prior to her arrival in our office, and she was in heart failure. She was literally drowning with fluids building up in her lungs. The treatment is delivery and allowing the heart muscle to try and recover. That had been accomplished in the ER.

For three days her husband kept a vigil outside her room in the unit. The enormity of the potential problems facing that young man with the reality of raising a new baby without his wife humbled me. But on the third day, she started to become alert. She gradually returned to the world of the living and her faculties slowly recovered. We all held our breath when the neurologist did his battery of tests and reported that she was “neurologically intact”.

Another week went by, and my daily routine in the office kept me busy out of the hospital. With my next hospital duty, I inquired of her location and was told she had just been discharged to the Hospital for Special Care for rehab. So after my weekend on call, I decided to pay this very special person a visit. I brought one of the puppies to cheer her up, since I wasn’t sure what sort of mental state she would be in. I got to the hospital and found she had just been discharged the day before. I called her husband and asked if I could see them in their home. He gave me directions. This is what I found.

Thankfully she has no memory of the events of that day, or even being in our office for her prenatal visit. But outside of her memory lapses, her personality, and sense of self is intact. Her hug and smile made me know that I was part of something very special. I told her God must have very special plans for her.

George Strait recently wrote a country song, ” I saw God today”. It goes..

“I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book, I know he’s here, I don’t look as often as I should. His fingerprints are everywhere, I just need to slow down to stop and stare, and open my eyes. I saw God today.”

About Fire Hydrants and An Invitation

Rocky (formerly Mr. Black) and I were meandering around our block earlier this week on a blustery fall day. I was reflecting on his return to health and his soon departure to his forever home with my son and his young family in Maryland. While Barb and I will enjoy the return to normalcy of only having five goldens underfoot, we will miss that boundless positive energy that we have enjoyed for these last extra weeks.

His curiosity is limitless. The simplest items.. an acorn, a twig, a beetle, take on the significance of life changing encounters. In trying to get around the block, detours were endless. It was then that I noticed for the first time how many fire hydrants there were on our walk. And looking more closely at each one, I realized that they were all in some way different. All red of course, but that was the only uniform detail. Some short, some tall, some bright red, others a faded pinker shade. And of course Rocky treated each one like there was a wealth of information scattered around their bases.

I always thought it would be neat to be privy to their sense of smell and how this helps them communicate. The fire hydrants probably represent our internet chat rooms where emotions of affection, happiness, anxiety, and dominance or submission are publicly displayed. We walk by these red way stations countless times, yet the messages posted beneath are below our notice or understanding. This post is somewhat tongue in cheek. Not every missive can have a life changing message written in fire across the morning sky. If you buy into the way of the dog though, the simplest activity can take on new meaning. Living in the present to its fullest, even a fire hydrant represents to their lives, hidden meanings and secret codes.

And that brings me to my real purpose of this blog. To invite other would be writers of golden stories to try their hand at composing a Guest blog. I have plenty of other stories bottled up inside me, but as our golden community grows here in Farmington, I think it would be special to have anyone with a tale or message to take a chance and send us their work. There are only three rules.. There has to be a least one photo/drawing of a golden retriever accompanying the story. The story must have a meaning that will help our readers face their daily struggle with grace, a smile or a tear. And because we are golden retriever lovers, our breed has to be the focus of the story. I will let Barb judge whether the submissions are appropriate. No age restrictions apply, so if a young golden lover wants to try a story we will give you an opportunity.. Step up and give it a try! Our website is becoming much less about selling puppies and more about learning to love and live as our goldens do.

Reversal of Roles and Other Puppy Moments

It wasn’t so long ago that two of our clients and golden friends were debating whether to add a new puppy for companionship to their beloved ailing older golden. There are no real rules, but the reality is that just as we irresistibly are drawn to that puppy smile and energy, so are our canine brethren. So young “Rosie” from our 12/2006 litter went to be a friend to aging “Holly”. From the photographs you can see it was a winning combination.

Even at the end when Holly was ailing, I am told, Rosie wouldn’t leave her side.


So when our last litter arrived, Ken and Mary Ann were  wondering how “Rosie” would do as the now older mature leader in the household. Would she accept a younger companion in a definite reversal of roles. I will let you all be the judge…

Both Rosie and Autumn have the same mother and father (Emma and Mulder). With only a year and a half or so in difference in age, they should look very similar when Autumn is full grown.

I would like to give Ken kudos for his fabulous photographs. I am self taught, and use a very small digital camera so I can have it with me at all times. When Ken sent me this last photo, I finally knew why the resolution of his photos was so much better than what I have been getting. He has a cannon (not Canon) for a camera!

Thank you Ken for your help with adding so much life and color to our blog! You have captured the spirit and pure essence of our dogs so well.

Two houses down from us another of our puppies is finding companionship with an older buddy. Lion-like “Bo” has had his domain invaded by little “Minnie”. Bo has only three legs now following his battle with cancer. His spirits seem soothed by the presence of this little ball of love.

Thank you for your photos Barb. I just noticed though the date is off on your camera screen.

Another of our puppies has landed in a family with much younger folks. “Lola” is not quite sure what to make of sharing her space with a larger Niko..

But I am sure she will find plenty of excitement going forward.

Thank you for sharing Shayna. Lola is the first golden yellow jacket I have ever seen.

Then we are back to dog ville here and the last week of “Rocky” before he travels south to be with my son’s family. Our pack is more accepting of him now, but they can be an intimidating bunch. His convalescence with us helped Emma adjust to the loss of her pups. And that is the lemonade from his lemon of a surgical adventure.

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!

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