Just Another Family Member

Barb and I get a lot of laughs and smiles from the stories and photos we receive from both golden friends as well as from those folks who have our dogs. It is amazing how these animals cuddle their way into our hearts and daily activities in so many ways. I thought I would share some recent pictures…

First we have Mare who sent a picture of her golden “Sierra” staying warm during a recent nap.


Then Cindy sent us a snapshot of “Katie” with her St. Patrick’s Day Hat.


Janet takes “Logan’s” dental health very seriously as you can see.


And amazingly, he returned the good turn by helping nurse Andy back to health when he had the flu this winter.


Still, I am reminded daily by some of their not so endearing behaviors, that they are still dogs and have their own inborn ideas of the world. Last night I heard the sound of chewing suddenly change and looked over to see Solo had made a good start on my wallet. The credit cards had only teeth marks on one corner so I got off lucky.


When I picked up a new wallet today, I also had to pick up another leather case for my cell phone. That disappeared last week down someone’s gullet and the only remaining part was the metal clasp. Never mind that these items are on a bureau that I thought was high enough to be safe. At least these items were not as costly as the eyeglasses I had to replace last year.

Like the other human members of our family though, we take the good with the bad and forgive readily, because family is what our lives are all about.


A Family Grieves


We got a very sad message at the end of last week from Ken and Mary Ann. Their golden girl Holly had finally lost her battle with lung and splenic cancer and pancreatitis. With a temp of 106 degrees she was unable to come home from her last hospitalization at Animal General. Below are the photos they sent to us of her last week at home with Rosie keeping her good company.

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Regular readers of our website blog will probably remember some of the prior photo submissions by Ken of his Holly and Rosie. Although Holly was a senior golden when our Miss Purple entered her life from our last litter, they bonded tremendously.

From Ken’s emails we learned that Holly brought maturity and leadership to the much younger Rosie, while Rosie made sure that Holly still remembered how to play and make the most of a day.


Nothing tears out the heart of a dog lover as having to put down a lifelong companion that gave you nothing but smiles and good times every day of their lives. Going home to that empty supper bowl in the kitchen and seeing that special blanket and bed in the corner, or the beloved toy that will forever lay where it was last dropped, takes special courage. But that is the price we have to pay for loving creatures that have a shorter lifespan than ours. Hopefully we will all meet again somewhere in the future where friendships can be renewed and memories revisited.

Someone recently gave me an inspirational message written by the very irreverent comedian, George Carlin, on losing his wife and best friend.

He wrote,

“The paradox of our time is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only treasure that you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent. Remember to say, “I love you” to your partner, and most of all mean it.

And always remember, Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Living every day in the present with a golden by your side is a simple gift without compare. Barb and I hope that Ken and Mary Ann and their family will find comfort in the warm memories that Holly has left each one of them.

Assigned Travel Seating


Our Goldens love to take a ride. Our ten year old minivan has seen its share of vacations, college trips, and hauling virtually anything our children have needed on their frequent moves into their now adult worlds. The van, though weathered and scratched, is working toward the 150K mile mark without a complaint or hiccup. Like a pair of comfortable shoes, I don’t worry about the dirt or dog hair anymore. The girls and I just load up and go. It still amazes me that this vehicle can fit more stuff than our Suburban. It just can’t keep up though when you need to get through a big snowstorm or the slippery mountain rodes to our cabin in Vermont.

Everyone has a seat of their own choosing, and like the creatures of habit that we humans are, the dogs may change now and then, but will soon revert to their most favored seat. The captain’s chairs allow everyone a little space so there will be peace among the family members.


Riley above likes to have the shotgun seat. She is alert to the goings on of everything and everyone passing close by the van and lets out throaty growls to make herself known.


Solo, being the most alpha, (except when her mom Emma is pregnant), stakes out her claim by lying next to me in the center. She is content to have me scratch her head as we drive along. If I have to leave the van for a moment, she sits in my seat. With Riley on the passenger side, this usually stops passing people seeing what looks like Mr. and Mrs. Golden out for a drive.

Lily is content to sit in the second row along with Emma. They quietly look out the windows with their heads on the window sills.


Our youngest, Lucy, loves to walk back and forth on the third row bench seat.


Of course, all these seating arrangements are very fluid. If I leave the van for a moment to run into one of my offices or stop to get a Dunkin coffee, when I return, everyone is in a different place. However, once we start moving, everyone finds their usual spot. One of their favorite trips is to the bank drive up window. The teller is always amazed to see the five dogs sitting in their own places. For their good behavior she always rewards them with a treat.

Above, Emma is now sitting next to me.. While below, Solo is visiting her younger sister.


And here Solo is hamming it up a bit.


By bringing everyone along on even the most mundane task, we bond as a dog family. And all that matters to me anymore when I am not working, is how wide a smile I can have doing even the most simple task. That is now how I take the measure of my life.

As you can see by the size of the smile on Riley’s face after our morning run today, the day is off to a very good start.

Abby’s Spirit Lives On

I still miss our original breeding golden, Abby, and wanted to do something in a positive way to keep her mischievous and loving spirit alive. The poem I wrote for this website allowed me to get past the grieving process of losing a special companion after those very special years together. See “Abby’s Message“. But it didn’t seem enough of a legacy to reward her for her labors that have blossomed into our growing Farmington Valley Golden family.

For the past three years I have been making wine and learning the secrets behind all the hype. With a cellar full of wine behind me from grapes harvested from all over the world, many of you have been gifted with a few bottles of my latest concoction for one occasion or another. And all our wines are covered with our dog labels to reflect our true passion here. This weekend we will be unveiling our latest golden endeavor. I will be bottling a beer I have been fermenting in a vat in our basement. I became enamored of the taste of the most popular beer in the Domincan Republic during my mission trip last fall. Called “El Presidente” it is a light ale, with a mild taste and low alcohol content. Thanks to the investigative skills of my wine making expert and now good friend, Adrian, he was able to find a beer maker in Colorado who came up with the right combination of malt and hops. It is still amazing to me that with the internet and networking, you can find out the recipe for something from a third world country that is not widely known. We will shortly see how successful we are.

I hope to share this beer with family, friends, and visitors (of age) to our home over this upcoming holiday season. And what better way to honor our Abby than to grace this effort with her never forgotten smile. Celeste, my tireless graphic artist extraordinaire, has come through again and brought my humble ideas to life.

So I give you our label for Abby’s Golden Ale.. (Click on the image to enlarge)

And the neck label we designed for the beer bottles also has special meaning. Although my cousin Ron’s golden, Emma, has joined her mom on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, the photo he took of her as a pup still is one of my favorites. See “Sad News“. So I hope Ron and his Barb and family will be pleased to see her memory live on as well: a golden puppy with friendship and adventure on her mind.

So I am looking forward to sharing with all our golden family and friends, Abby and Emma’s “spirits”. Hopefully we will raise a glass to them around the whelping box come mid December with a new litter of pups to brighter everyone’s holiday mood. I can only hope that my brewing skills live up to the labels!!

For Love of Maggie

Last week I wrote about our neighborhood losing “Maggie”. (Neighborhood Tragedy).

Our friend and neighbor Lynda wrote back: “Hi Mike. The words you wrote about Maggie touched our family. They prompted Max to write down his feelings which I would like to share with you. Julia wrote a little something too. Thanks again for all your help and support.”

So here is a tribute to Maggie written by the children who loved her, with some of their favorite photos.


By giving voice to our grief, we somehow move forward, yet can savor those special times that will forever be etched in the glass walls of our memory.

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Max and Ben:

Maggie was the friendliest, kindest and loving dog a family could possibly wish for. I remember the day we brought Maggie home a little over five years ago with her orange collar and her energetic spirit. From that day on Maggie was loved so much and always enjoyed life. She lived every minute up to the moment she died with the same happiness and energy. I will miss every little thing Maggie used to do. I will miss the way she would sit with her back legs spread apart. I will miss the way she would tell us when she wanted to come in and out by knocking on the glass front and back doors. I will miss the way she would play in our outdoor activities, whether it was soccer, basketball, or baseball. She would always get excited to play with us. I will miss the way she would lay with us on the floor and watch a movie on family movie night. I will miss sitting with her in “her” leather chair in the family room. I will miss everything about Maggie, from the way she used to squint at us as we walked up the hill to our house, to the way she used sleep on the bottom of the stairs waiting for us to come down and play with her. I will miss throwing the tennis ball and frisbee to her. But most of all, I will miss the way she loved us, how sweet she was to everyone, and the way she made me happy every day of my life. We may get another dog but it is impossible to take the place of Maggie. Maggie will always be in my heart.


My Dog Maggie. Maggie was my friend who liked playing paw, playing ball, and going for walks around the neighborhood. Me and my dad would take her swimming in the river and she had so much fun! We would throw a stick and she would start to get it but then forget to bring it back to us. This made me and my dad laugh. Maggie wasn’t a great retriever but was the best Golden Retriever. I loved her and I will never forget her. Love Julia.

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I was there at her end, and I walked by her home for five years with my own goldens in tow. She never failed to greet us on our walks up her street. I will always remember her however, as the precocious Miss Orange collar from her litter days. I can still clearly remember that special day when her whole family walked up the street to take her home.


Maggie you gave love, and were well loved in return. You are sorely missed, but you have given your family memories that would make your mother Abby proud. I hope you both are sharing happy moments on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

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