For Love of Goldens

Weekend Thoughts, Rocky Moments

It has been quite the week in dogville for all of us here. Like life in general, a smattering of good interspersed with other stuff, and the realization that we are truly not in control of this breeding adventure. The week started promising enough. A visit to Dr. Feldman the day after the whelping. Riley and the puppies checked out healthy.

The following day Riley’s bleeding became heavier than we were used to so that raised some anxiety and another call to the vet. Then we noticed that Riley’s nursing nipples weren’t all protruding to the same degree, and there was some worry that the flattest two would not work properly and therefore be prone to infection. So off Barb went to WalMart for an electric breast pump. I guess there is a first time for everything! However, this device was not helpful. So manual massage became the order of the day with Barb and Theresa doing the lactation chores. Last litter our Emma developed a breast abscess that had to be surgically drained and her nursing stopped prematurely. So we were trying to avoid this at all costs.

The following day Riley had a GI upset that was helped with a chicken and rice diet that Barb specially cooked along with a pepcid tablet. The pups were gaining weight, and things seemed to be clicking. I was sleeping in short snatches in the basement overnight, broken up with checking out the puppy squeaks when a puppy lost track of her mom. (The pups can’t see or hear for the first three weeks). Barb would replace me in the daytime, and we tagteamed it with the chores we both had to do. Fortunately, this birth coincided to the week Barb and I were both off from our real jobs.

Then Riley developed a fever that persisted throughout the day Saturday. Dogs’ temp’s are usually 101 plus, but Riley was up to 103+. The back nipples seemed to be working ok and the pups were feeding from them. We decided to bring her to the Avon animal ER last night. It turned out that she had an early mastitis starting in one of the front normal nipples. She was a good sport while being checked out.

Three hours later, after fluids and antibiotics, we were on our way back home minus a couple more hundreds of dollars in veterinary expenses. Thankfully, Brian and Theresa were home keeping an eye on the sleeping pups. The technology that allows instant photos being sent from phone to phone kept everyone in touch and on top of this latest misadventure.

When we got home though the real work began.. Barb and Theresa had to apply warm soaks to the infected breast gland, and try to keep the breast empty so an abscess wouldn’t develop. The pups can still nurse, but not on that nipple. Sheesh. They came up with a novel solution.. Duct tape. I couldn’t believe it, but it stayed on all night. Kudos to them both.

So this brings us up to this morning, with Barb in the basement doing Riley’s breast care, and myself upstairs typing out this blog. Does anyone out there still envision themselves wanting to become a dog breeder? We just have to hope this antibiotic works. If not and we have to change it to one that the puppies can’t nurse with, then we will have to bottle feed the pups. Yikes!

Now on to the rest of the week’s happenings…

We had our first celebrity sighting. Theresa, our neighbor and dog midwife, was in Stop n Shop the day after the last dog post. She was approached by someone she didn’t know, that recognized her from our last blog photo of Riley’s whelping. Can a Hollywood TV spot be far behind? Hah! It turns out that the “stranger” was another golden friend, Laura, who walks her Daisy in our neighborhood. And thank you Laura for that delightful book that you gave Barb and I to read. It was the story of someone named Gary Paulsen who is an experienced Iditarod sled dog racer. Our problems pale to his adventures of having 70 to 80 dogs who are closer to wolves than huskies, and running hundreds of miles in nowhere land at temps of usually 40 below zero. Just amazing.

As for our anxious clients awaiting news of a puppy, the progress of notification goes slowly. We are still contacting folks who have been on the list over a year. Amazingly, most are still interested. We have two dogs still to be placed. I really feel badly for my patients, friends, and neighbors that were hoping to hear good news, but have been on the list less than a year. A litter of six just does not go very far. I will contact all of you who have filled out applications, once all the pups have been placed, to see if you would like my help in getting a beautiful puppy from one of our close breeding friends.

Rocky, our mischievous male puppy from our last litter continues his chewing ways. Our son Michael will not be ready to accept him back in Italy for a couple more months. So he is learning the pack behavior rules and leaving his teeth marks everywhere. We only have limited energy to keep tabs on him with all the other goings on here and it shows. Despite an abundance of tennis balls, bones and toys of various kinds strewn all about, he has his own ideas of taste. From digging holes to furniture to yard tools, he samples them all.

While the big dogs watch me start the yard work, Rocky is in constant motion.

All was mostly forgiven, when Rocky spied his first butterfly of the year. The look in his eyes was priceless.. I just couldn’t snap the photo fast enough!

He has enjoyed learning to ride in the truck when I go to do office paperwork on weekends.

I am going to miss him mightily when the time comes to say goodbye. However, he has a family to train, with our two little grandsons, who he must teach to enjoy the simple adventures in life while growing up.

So we finish this week, more than a little tired and even more discouraged. Barb has taken to writing down her frustrations so she will be able to remind me of them when we may think of breeding again in a year or so. I was out back trying to start the garden and yard work for the coming summer. Each year it gets harder to begin and the work seems to grow larger in my mind. A sure sign of getting older I think . Then when I came in to do this blog, the screen saver on my computer put it all in perspective. My guardian angel must be reminding me to begin with the end in mind. I went out again, snapped a few photos..

Here is what was on my computer screen saver. Our yard mid summer last year..

And now when I think of the children of all ages who will soon be coming to visit their puppies, my spirits have suddenly lifted into blue skies again.

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!

For Love of Goldens

While searching for something in “My Documents” file, I came across a folder that I hadn’t peeked into for years. This folder contained an internet poem, author unknown, that someone had sent me back in 2000. Back then I had changed it, added some verses, and sent it out to our clients who were on our email puppy list.

I thought to revise it again and add some recent appropriate photos. It really speaks to the mindset you develop as a breeder and member of a multiple dog household. I am not sure if we don’t become more than a little eccentric living the way we do. Our children, I’m sure, would certainly agree.

For Love of Goldens…


Why be cautious about owning a Golden Retriever? There’s a danger you know. You can’t own just one, for the craving will grow.

There’s no doubt they’re addictive, and therein lies the danger. While living with many you’ll grow poorer and stranger.

One dog is no trouble, and two are so funny. The third one is easy, the fourth one’s a honey.

The fifth is delightful and the sixth one’s a breeze. You’ll find you can live with a houseful with ease.


As dogs they are beautiful, smart, and oh so nice. And whatever you paid, they’re a bargain for the price.

So how about another? Would you really dare? They’re really quite easy, but Oh Lord, all the hair.


With dogs on the sofa and dogs on the bed, and crates in the kitchen, “No Bother” You’ve said.

“They’re really no trouble, their manners are great. What’s just one more dog and just one more crate”.


The sofa is hairy, the windows are crusty, the floor is all footprints, the furniture’s dusty.

The housekeeping suffers, but what do you care? Who minds a few nose prints, and a little more hair?


Although their colors can vary all over the chart, Goldens are blessed with the same big loyal heart.

Their needs are so simple; love, companionship, a tennis ball, a stick. But the returns to us are immeasurable: friendship, loyalty, and from their tongues, warm licks.

With such big brown eyes and a warm wet nose, you’ll scarcely notice all the hair covering your clothes.

Who can resist such energy, playfulness, and need for cuddling. And it’s hard to be stern though their wet coat may be dripping and puddling.

So no matter a tail just shattered your favorite vase on the table. One look with those innocent eyes will your anger disable.

So let’s keep another puppy, you can always find room. And just add a little more time for the dust cloth and broom.

There’s hardly a limit to the Goldens you can add. And the thought of stopping makes you terribly sad.


Each one is special, so cuddly, so funny. But there are big vet bills and food bills, and now you owe money.

Your folks never visit, few friends come to stay. Except other dog folks who live the same way.

Your lawn is full of holes and your shrubs are dead too, but your weekends are so busy: you are off with your crew.

There’s dog food and vitamins and training and shots, and show entries and motels, all which cost lots.

Is it worth it you wonder? Are you caught in a trap? Then your favorite golden comes and jumps up on your lap.

Her look says you’re special, and you know that you will, keep all of the Goldens, in spite of the bill.

For life is but a short journey to be savored with pride. And everything is more vivid, more special, with a Golden Retriever by your side.

So enjoy your old pup until word of our next litter leaks. Then you will be on the phone calling, saying another golden you seek.

And with my own crew gathered all around me as I take your anxious call, I will smile and be surprised.. Not at all.

The End.

As I try to type the finishing touches of this blog, the girls are on the right and left of me. Normally I have one hand to type and mouse, while the other scratches someone’s head.


Tonight everyone wants a piece of me. Time to get out some buffalo bones so everyone will be content…

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