Closing Chapters

It was a melancholy week for me here in dogville. Emma and Lucy were both spayed on Friday. Both did well with their surgeries, and kudos to Dr. Feldman for once again keeping our animals healthy. But these two events on the same day, heralded major changes in our future breeding activities. For seven year old Emma, it was a well deserved ending to her birthing of three healthy litters. For Lucy it was the end of a potential storied career that never could be. Despite her looks, parentage, and our hard work, the appearance of her eye problem shattered our plans.

My cousin Ron, sent some perceptive comments. After all, he and his Barbara were there, way back at our beginning when we really did not know much about the science of breeding. And they have had three of our dogs over the years. He wrote:

“Sorry to hear the news about Lucy. It sure was a lot simpler in the good old days, i.e., Abby and a sperm donor….what the heck…..didn’t have to worry about all the finer points of breeding….and still got GREAT dogs out of the deal.
The bar has been raised to such a high level in this day and age, that it brings with it so many more challenges to getting to puppy paws on the ground..  I do admire your passion, as you pursue your Golden adventures I wholeheartedly agree with the Mother Nature references….despite all the good intentions, the careful and meticulous planning, it does boil down to having some good fortune on your side.
Like many others at this end of the blog, I am curious as to what your plan will be moving forward.  Again, sorry to hear the news, but glad to hear about Riley’s pending litter.”
So now we have: ten year old Lily, Emma our seven year old, four year old Solo, and now Lucy two, who will have their sole roles being our pets and companions. After this litter of Riley’s, we will regroup and decide what direction our Golden passion will take us. We have also come to realize that our home is not situated for growing our business in a larger fashion. Not only in space, but in time available to meet our other commitments. And having just met with my accountant on the same Friday as Emma and Lucy’s surgery, we can only carry these continued losses of thousands of dollars per year so far. I didn’t quite understand why the government can be in the red all the time, but then expect me as a little business owner to turn a profit once in a while. Sheesh..
Anyway, don’t count us out for the future. There are ways to continue our missionary efforts to put golden retriever puppies into deserving families. For now, Barb and I will regroup and focus on the present.
I am sure part of my reflective mood this week was not helped by THE annual spring chore in our backyard. When you have five to six retrievers doing their business in our backyard for a whole season, well there is quite a lot of poop to scoop. So much so that Barb and I break it down into wheel barrows full, one garden island at a time. Once that chore is accomplished, you can start to enjoy the appearance of the backyard a little more.
There was one more chore this weekend that was somewhat noteworthy. We have had our fish tank for probably over twenty years, and our latest family of fish has been with us for a few years now. In fact our tank is overcrowded because of a number of generations of fish that keep reproducing a little too often. Well our big orange Cichlid got sick this week. For anyone who has ever had guppies or goldfish, a hint of a little illness and they are gone. Fortunately with bigger fish, you have a chance to save their health if you react in time. So this weekend I had to remove all the fish and thoroughly clean the tank and then add medicated water. Our girls had never seen a pail of fish up close. As you can see they were very curious.
Unlike a cat, they had no urge to stick a paw in and try to grab one. This photo of Riley shows her communicating with me about this fishy situation.
She has become much more vocal since she is pregnant. It is probably a good thing we don’t know what she is saying as she keeps repeating herself and her barks over and over!
And now to happier news…
Riley is getting larger everyday.  She is getting more protective of me, as well as with the shared toys and stuffed play animals. Here she is in the kitchen this weekend..
We will be getting the cellar ready again soon. And that means I have to move my wine and beer operation out of the whelping box. So today Andy, my neighbor and co wine maker, came over and we bottled about thirty bottles of a medal winning Austrian wine that we have been working on for the past two months. A few sample glasses helped my spirits considerably!
My son Brian, along with our neighbors Theresa and Ian, have been taking two of our dogs for a river walk in Collinsville when the weather has been nice.
As you can see, a good time was had by all.
Finally, our Golden friend Gayle sent us a warning about using “Cocoa Mulch” in your garden beds.

>Pet Alert- Poisonous Mulch – deadly to dogs and cats
>Please tell every dog or cat owner you know. Even if you don’t have >a pet, please pass this to those who do.
>Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn’t acting lethargic </SPAN< SPAN>in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her >morning walk. Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.
> >
>Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company’s website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.
> >Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey’s, and they claim that ‘It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat it.’
> >This Snopes site gives the following >information:
> >
>Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of th eobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.
> >

Every year here we have at least one dog eat our wood chip mulch, and get sick, and end up with a vet visit for a stomach ache. They don’t have very discriminating tastes for sure! Wishing a good week to all.