Breeding News

Gabby Comes Home..

It has been a very busy weekend here in our home in Farmington, Connecticut. We started the weekend on Friday picking up our new female puppy. What a gorgeous girl from a gorgeous litter. Dodi and Walter did an amazing job whelping and raising their latest litter. Gabby had to have a last run in the yard with her mom Trude, before she said goodbye and started the journey home with us. (Please click on the photos if you  want to view in larger scale).


Saturday was our daughter Kristen’s birthday party. Her dog Pearl joined the party with our four goldens, and our newest arrival Gabby.

There were some initial growls and sniffing moments when our group met Gabby, but she is very self assured, and made herself right at home.

The other dogs are not as impressed, but seem tolerant enough at this point.

Easter Sunday started out with another crowd and dinner. So Gabby got to meet lots of new faces.. Still there was time to explore the back yard and make some interesting discoveries.

We tried some photos of Lauren and Kristen with Gabby to possibly update our home page for our website. Our daughters were in high school when those photos were taken. Time has moved along, but they still make an arresting photo in my mind! We will have to see what magic Celeste Rockel (our website designer extraordinaire) can do with these latest photos. PS Celeste, I am having some technical troubles to get the story line matching the photos in the composer program.. Please help pretty please, and pardon everyone for the way the story is displayed.

And at the end of this long day, man and puppy alike needed a little nap, as evidenced by our son Brian joining Gabby for some quiet time.

And when everyone had left, and the house was quiet again, Gabby showed she feels happy and comfortable in her new home, by just curling up under an end table, happy and at peace.

Thank you Dodi and Walter of Mardovar Goldens for giving us such a great puppy to rekindle the stories of  Golden life and love from Dogville.

Welcoming.. Gabby, “Green Collar Girl”

Here she is… Our newest female member of our family. Posing for a piece of cheese, and licking her muzzle. More photos to follow this weekend when she officially arrives here in Dogville.

Thank you to all who sent us such positive messages after getting our first blog email out of the blue in two and a half years. And to think some have already put their name on our list for the next litter. Thank you for such positive thinking.
Mike and Barb.

Closing Moments

All week I wondered what I would find for solace when it came time to write one of the final blogs about puppyville here in Farmington. Like a small windstorm that you sometimes come upon on a walk, happy thoughts, sad moments, puppy hugs, golden smiles, medical worries, new friends, closing credits .. they all banged around in my skull like the leaves, sand, and twigs that are caught up in the swirling vortex of this windstorm. Which emotion would surface most strongly and which would be pushed under by these invisible currents. But then on Friday, the sun came out, the weekend continued on a summer’s path, and we lived in the moment.. And it was all good.

Rocky continued his war on my plants and pots. And he even taught his older sister Lucy how to join in.

We and the puppies were able to enjoy the warmer weather on the outside patio.

Riley has made a complete recovery, although she bears some scars where the dressing cover rubbed against her side flanks. She has absolutely no interest in the pups.. a severe case of postpartum pyschosis I guess. But she has survived those horrible days and nights of her infection, and we are grateful.

Saturday morning, the activity in the whelping box was frenetic. The puppies’ energy level has grown exponetially with each passing day.

We gave everyone their baths Saturday morning early, because we had a final vet appointment for their shots and physicals.

Mr. Black has continued to gain weight and strength. His unique left ear is showcased here with his bath.

The visit to see Dr. Feldman then got off to a crowded start.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the visit, except for that moment when the “boys” had their testicles checked.

Everyone then came home and snuggled together in one big pile as usual.

Mr Black continued to impress us with his improved motor skills and awareness. Still deaf though.

We let everyone out of the pen later in the day, and it was then that I was struck by how ready our pups were to join the outside world.

Of course with any going away party, we had to take some “formal photographs”.

Today dawned sunny again, and after a flurry of cleanup, puppy pampering, and baths, three of our special families came by to start their own golden adventures.

The final two puppies will leave tomorrow. Mr. Black will not be placed for another month or so, and Rocky looks to extend his visit here by about four weeks as well. So of course, how can you get lonely when you still have seven goldens underfoot in the house!!

So while Barb and I realize that a final chapter may have just been written this weekend, an epilogue will follow.

Thank you for your interest in our world here..

Golden Hugs to you all!

Refrigerator Stories and Other Doings

Between the food and drink supplies, and the medicinal equipment, it feels like we are running a field hospital for golden retrievers. If you were staying in our home overnight, you would have to be very careful about getting up in the middle of the night for milk and cookies. Without the light on, you might have a very unique experience when you tried to make that quiet trip to the refrigerator looking for a light snack.

Of course you wouldn’t be alone, the pack would be out of our bedroom and accompanying you wherever you were headed. But it would not be much of an exaggeration to say that the dog supplies almost outnumber our food supplies in the fridges. In the left photo above, we have Barb’s special recipe of rice and ground chicken for Riley’s uneven appetite. Then we have the Lactaid, which we are giving to Riley in her food as a source of extra calcium. That is done to prevent the onset of postpartum toxemia. Next to that we have Trader Joe’s supply of goat milk. Easier to digest than cow’s milk, it is needed to replace Riley’s breast milk. In the right hand photo, we have more goat’s milk sitting below my two little kegs of homemade Abby’s Golden Ale. I can promise you I for one will not make a mistake choosing the right container if I need a sip of something cold after a late feeding.

We have switched places in our sleeping arrangements. Barb now sleeps downstairs with the pups and does the late night (early morning feeding) and I stay in our bedroom with the big dogs. Riley does better sleeping next to me, and gets the rest she needs to get well.

This bottle feeding schedule every three to four hours is grueling. We have put aside our very full lives for these next few weeks, and do mostly dog duty chores. Barb’s sister and her husband stopped by for a visit from their home in Massachusetts this afternoon. They enjoyed trying their hand at feeding, and we finished the puppies late afternoon feeding a little quicker than usual.

We tried to have the pups sup from a bowl last night. It didn’t go well, and the pups ended up with more on them and the rug than in their mouths. So we are back to bottle feeding for a while longer.

It is very comical to see their bellies all swollen after a few ounces of milk…

The pups are very content though, and are starting to hear better and wobble along on their developing leg muscles.

We would expect in another week or two, they will start to resemble the “classic golden retriever puppy” that everyone is familiar with.

We sorely wish we could say that our mom Riley was improving. She still has spiking temps and her breast now looks like something out of a flesh eating zombie movie. She is on two antibiotics, soaks, and topical medication. She is back to the vet tomorrow.   She does not appear to be in pain, and for that we are thankful.

Solo above has made herself Riley’s nurse, and tries to clean her sister’s wound. Not a good idea and another task to keep them apart. Riley has to wear a hood now most of the day so she won’t lick herself either.

That takes care of the two most pressing issues that consume our thoughts. Even with both of our extensive medical backgrounds, this latest setback with Riley is anxiety provoking. I am blessed to have Barbara be such a good mother hen to all our animals. But we got much more than we bargained for with this whole litter experience. There is no question but that Riley will be spayed after she recovers. We will not risk her health again.

Now on to the last two groups of dogs that we must give time and energy to. They still need to be run, and played with, and kept happy if possible. Of course we are talking about Rocky and his never ending energy. Lucy seems to have become his new sidekick and they play together constantly.

You can see by the size of their teeth that I am very careful walking them in a pack. They can do serious damage if they get riled up enough. Rocky is now as big as everyone else except for Riley. He still had way too much energy after our run, so I got out the little pool, and they played while I tried to get some yard chores accomplished.

The rest of our pack needs their personal attention too. Fortunately, it can be spent in more quieter pursuits like watching me garden or sitting with me on the front porch for a rest.

We do have to count the blessings of this beautiful day that added so much to our outdoor experiences. Until Riley’s issues have improved we will not be having visitors other than immediate family. The pups will be three weeks old tomorrow and we still have five weeks to share their cuddly nature with friends and clients. We have scratched another family off the waiting list from a year prior. We have not had much time to contact anyone else, but it will happen when this litter raising business returns to a more normal course.

Lady Misfortune Deals us a Breeding-Ending Card

How silly of me to write of our nice weekend with blue skies and happy goings on here in dogville. My cousin Ron had remarked that it was getting depressing to read the blog events with the never ending litany of misfortunes. So it was satisfying to write on Sunday of life events that were not life threatening. A honey of a weekend to sweeten our taste buds grown bitter with the daily dose of vinegar we have come to expect in our breeding lives.

Monday began innocently enough with everyone feeding and active. Barb went out for an errand and returned to find Riley lethargic and hot in the whelping box. Her temp was near 106 degrees and a check of her nipples revealed a swollen back breast with the less developed nipple. An emergency visit to Dr. Feldman found another mastitis location with a bacteria obviously resistant to the amoxacillin she was already on. An afternoon stay at the vet hospital became a necessity, and after IV fluids and IV antibiotics, we were able to pick her up last evening.

This meant once again, the end of Riley’s breast feeding ability (the same had happened to our Emma last litter but further along from her delivery). We are now watching Riley closely for the possibility of an abscess that might require surgical drainage. So Barb called me, understandably upset yesterday afternoon, with this news as she was on her way to buy preemie nursing bottles and goat’s milk. Our mentor Berna Welch, Mulder’s owner, gave us some sage advice about how to take over Riley’s job. So it was with some trepidation and anxiety that I made my way home after work last evening. We had at least a week of bottle feeding the pups ahead of us, every three to four hours, with no experience in this situation. The task loomed large and forbidding in both our minds.

But lo, something amazing happened… the pups took to their bottle feeding ways with bravado and enthusiasm. What we both thought would be a burdensome task, has now turned into a wonderful experience interacting with mother nature in a new way. I grew up watching  “Wild Kingdom” on our black and white television as a child, where exotic animals were featured each week. I can still vividly recall the park rangers feeding the orphaned tiger and lion cubs out of a bottle. And here we found ourselves, doing the same thing, standing in for their disappointed and frustrated mom. Thus you can see the smile on my face in some of these photos from last night and today.

What you can’t appreciate from these pictures is the amount of goat’s milk you get on yourself doing this task. A different smell to your clothes for sure after each meal also! After the pups have chugged down their milk, we pile them into the little box while we clean the whelping box. They love to cuddle when they are stuffed with milk.

Of course, my smiles above, were for the camera only, for in my heart I know this is a career ending event.

We had lost Solo’s breedability two years ago because of her mild hip dysplasia. Last year we had lost Emma’s ability to have any more puppies secondary to her breast issues. Lucy was disqualified in March with her new eye problem. Now we have just lost our Riley to nature’s ill whim again. So our four breeding females are no longer breedable. We are at our limit of tolerance and zoning for our six that we presently have. So we have now been forced out of the puppy business in spite of all our efforts. While I had hoped that my reliance on science would override the infertility issues and any other medical happenstance, I forgot one very basic rule: In breeding as in life, the House always wins. So while I will try to put a smile on the good fortune that we have had with these six healthy miracle puppies, a tear is forming in my heart, as I know that each day that passes we are coming closer to saying goodbye to all this. So we will live in the moment as Abby taught us so long ago, and enjoy every memory that comes our way. When I was out with our daughter Kristen Sunday, it occurred to me that we have six generations of our Goldens presently under our roof. It looks like this will be the end of Abby’s line. Not the end of her story however, as there is a lot of adventure still to be written in the minds and hearts of her offspring and their families.  But..


As I was writing my final words, Lucy and Rocky came storming up the stairs covered in black mud from the backyard. I had left the backdoor open so the dogs could do their business while Barb was in the basement with the pups, and I was writing this upstairs. Big mistake.

Thank God Isabelle who cleaned our home today won’t see this post.

As I followed the muddy tracks back through the house, I suddenly couldn’t  remember what I was going to miss about this business…

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