Archive for December, 2008

Lucy’s Birthday and End of Year Thoughts

It is New Year’s Eve day as I write this blog. Outside the snow is swirling, the neighborhood is quiet, and blanketed in white. We have already completed our run for the day, so the 5 girls are sprawled at my feet, their relaxed breathing the only music in my study. The steam from a mug of hot chocolate rises next to my keyboard… Now, how perfect is that for a close to a busy and rewarding year? I read my blog from last New Year’s post, and it was a much different story (Very Disappointing News… Again). We had just learned Emma wasn’t pregnant which completed a trifecta of disappointment for her, Riley, and Solo. This year we were blessed with a marvelous summer litter from Emma using some high tech fertility methods, and we have gained many new golden friends as a result.

This week was our Lucy’s second birthday. The three photos of her above were taken earlier today. In the last one, she was getting birthday hugs from Solo. We have received several photos and notes from her litter mates wishing her well.

First we have some pictures of her handsome brother, Tucker, with her owner Ollie.

Then we got some photos of Lucy’s pretty sister, Autumn from Ken.

Now that Lucy has turned two, we can complete her breeding certifications by doing her hip XRays. We will be scheduling this for later in January when we have a little more time.

This time of year brings many happy times for families gathering together to share in the holiday celebrations.

Thank you Gayle for these holiday pictures of your Emmy and Swimmer.

It is also a very sad and difficult time for some who are remembering friends, and companions who have passed away. The amount of losses one has experienced is a powerful yardstick to remind us that our time here is temporary and that we must use it wisely. Molly sent us a photo of her precious golden, Maggie, as a pup.

It was the pup that chose her son Nick, and thereby chose Molly and the rest of her family. She still misses her favorite gal, but it is very heartening to us that she is possibly ready for a new puppy when Lucy becomes a mom.

We also had our own sad loss here this Christmas. We had to say goodbye to our 20 + year old cat Fievel. One by one his body’s systems shut down. Kristen, who grew up with him from childhood as a special friend, was blessed to be able to come home and share some last quiet, special, but very difficult moments.

Finally, one of our neighbors, Kathy, recently sent us an editorial written by Harvey Mackay, a nationally syndicated columnist. It was on the subject of how much we can learn from our dogs. His ten suggestions for a happier life were simple:

  • Never pass up an opportunity for a joyride.
  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • Let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • Be loyal.
  • Take naps.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Very simple commandments to live by, that if we all followed, our world would be a much kinder place. I will close with a photo sent by Ken highlighting the restorative powers of a nap. Just looking at Rosie and Autumn there brings a smile to my face and peace to my heart.

See you in the New Year..

Wintry Weekend and Rocky Goes Home

New England certainly got an early taste of winter’s bounty with the cold, ice, and snow this weekend. Not one but two scoops of stormy weather separated by a day’s grace. Our goldens became like puppies again with the snowfall in the backyard.. wrestling, piling on and generally acting like kids on a school cancellation day.

The day’s walks become extra challenging for me. Besides the cold, wind, and ice underfoot, there is the added hazard of not having enough traction to hold them all back when they want to run. I often wonder in these circumstances about trying a dog sled. Besides needing special harnesses and the sled, I have no idea if their builds would allow them to do this safely. So it will just remain a fond dream while I try to keep my shoulders from complaining too loud the day after we have our outdoor adventures.

The red items slung across my chest are extra leashes. It is amazing how often they break after a few months of heavy work on our runs. The metal joints wear out from fatigue. And with everyone in our area seemingly taking their dogs to the high school fields, a broken leash means a possible dog fight and an unhappy Farmington dog owner. There is certainly a whole different awareness you have to have when walking a pack of animals, even those as good natured as golden retrievers.

Our son Michael Jr. and his family flew into New York from Florence, Italy on Friday. We had been keeping their special puppy, Rocky, while they searched for a possible place to live with his upcoming transfer there. Our other son Brian celebrated his 30th birthday on Friday in NYC. To make the weekend even more special, our oldest daughter Lauren flew into NY from San Francisco,  and our daughter Kristen came from Boston with her boyfriend Bobby. We had not had our whole family together for a year so this was a very special afternoon on Saturday. So we packed up Rocky and brought him to the big city. One of our good neighbors, Theresa, was kind enough to donate her apartment for the day for our family to gather together.

Our two grandsons were overjoyed to see their puppy again. Rocky is amazingly tolerant of their young energy and exuberance.

It was very cold walking around the city, but Rocky and I got to experience first hand our first New York City dog park.

Rocky was certainly a people magnet on the streets, bringing good cheer to all the shoppers who stopped to ask how old he was and give him a pat.

Too soon the afternoon ended, and we had to say goodbye to Mike and Emma and their boys and Rocky too. They were leaving for Maryland the next day, and the rest of us had to head back to Connecticut before the second storm arrived.

So it was a very special holiday weekend for our family. We give thanks to our Lord for allowing everyone to travel and arrive safely.

Barb and I had a most enjoyable two weeks babysitting Rocky, who added even more energy to our dog heavy home. We have never owned a male golden before, so I don’t know if it was his “maleness” or his inner personality that just came through. He definitely has a presence about himself that caused him to stand out even though he was at the bottom of the pack hierarchy. We look forward to getting him back temporarily again when our son moves to Italy next year. So stay tuned for more Rocky adventures in 2009.

Barb and I, and Lily, Emma, Solo, Riley, and Lucy wish all of our friends, family, clients, and golden readers a safe, healthy, and merry upcoming holiday week.

Next week the final blog of 2008 and some golden resolutions..

Rocky’s Road Trip

Our oldest son, Michael Jr., lives in Maryland with Emma and their two sons, Ethan and Alex. He recently learned he was being promoted and also being transferred to Italy for a few years. As grandparents, you feel more than a little tug on your heartstrings when your children and grandchildren move farther away rather than closer. Mike Jr. called us Sunday night and told us about their preparations to visit Florence for two weeks to find a place to live. Rocky didn’t have a place to stay yet, as he had not had his bordetella shot which is required for a kennel visit. (For those of our readers who are new to our dog family, Rocky is a very special boy who had emergency bowel surgery the one day before he was to join his new family. We ended up keeping him an extra month to recover, and then he joined our son’s family.) I happened to have Monday off, so Barb and Mike Jr. came up with  a wild plan to fly down there early the next morning and then drive Rocky home to us.

So we got up at 4:00 AM, got our Goldens here situated, and then headed to the airport.

A quick flight on Southwest, a rental car pickup, and then we were there. I hadn’t seen our grandsons in months so this was really special for me. Barb had been able to take some solo trips but I always had conflicts. We brought Christmas presents for everyone as we wouldn’t be seeing them on the holiday. What started as a whim, turned out to be a very enjoyable day for everyone.

The biggest hit for the little ones were the snow globes that security at the airport payed extra special attention to..

Rocky was thriving and looking great.

All too soon though, it was time to say goodbye and head back for the long ride home.

Rocky did great in the car once his lunch came up on the back seat. It was my fault that we fed him an hour before we left. The ride home took about six hours with Barb and I switching driving every so often. Getting home that evening, our son Brian introduced Rocky to the pack.

A very full day, but one of very happy memories on multiple levels. And it all occurred because of a crazy idea that we should be exceptional granddogparents, and take care of our special boy once again!

PS: Since Mike JR. will be in Italy another week, I want to reassure him when he checks his email that Rocky is doing ok with the bigger girls. So here is a photo of him scoping out his former whelping box home. This area is once again turned into my little brewery where holiday wine and beer is fermenting. I wonder what thoughts and smells he has of that special place.

And finally, here is Rocky with his place among the pack. At the back of course since he is at the bottom of the pecking order.

PS: We are still waiting on our Riley’s next heat. These events are very unpredictable. We thought November or December would be the window of opportunity. Still we are only half way through December. Riley herself doesn’t appear too worried.. She lives very fully in the moment.

Cooper Has a Sleep Over

Thanksgiving Day I spent 24 hours on call at the hospital. I was certainly not alone, but shared the day with a lot of other hard working professionals. Health issues never recognize a holiday. One of those people was Dr. Gwen, one of my favorite anesthesiologists. She has done Thanksgiving on call for years so her partners can share their holiday with their family members. More amazingly, I discovered that also for years she has brought the OR staff a Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and all the fixings. Our paths that day crossed a number of times between the delivery room and operating rooms. Mothers that needed epidurals, and/or Cesarean sections, and gyn patients that required emergency surgery. And I was just one kind of specialist that needed her and her team’s skills. There were traumas, codes, and orthopedic and general surgery cases that she had to supervise.

It was about 4 AM the next morning when we were both tired after finishing another emergency delivery. We had a few moments to ourselves so I asked her what she was going to do when her shift ended. She said she had another family tradition that occurred the day after her Thanksgiving call. She would take her family to New York for the weekend and enjoy time together at a show and restaurant. Thankfully, she had learned through the years that she needed to hire a driver to take everyone safely there, and could get at least a couple of hours of sleep before her weekend started.

Now why is she the topic of this golden blog?  Well, she has one of our puppies from Emma’s last litter.   I was curious where the little guy, Cooper,  would be staying for the weekend.. Turns out he was to sleep over at Gayle’s house, a fabulous place with acres of land and a large pond. Even better was the company that Gayle’s two golden’s Emmy and Swimmer would be for him. So after the weekend was over, Gayle was nice enough to share with us the happenings at her home.

Gayle has invisible fence around her pond, and turns it on when the weather turns wintry. That seems like a great idea since the pond is right outside her back door. Notice the pond outside the window in this picture of Cooper pulling on Emmy’s ear.

Here is the last picture, Cooper tuckered out but very content napping with his plush toy.

Seems that Cooper enjoyed his weekend just as much as Dr. Gwen’s well deserved time off.

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