Friday, November 29, 2013


Every handbook written by experts on the subject, and every human person who has ever been through the experience will give the same advice: If you contemplate letting a Golden Retriever puppy into your life, be prepared to live with an exuberant, constantly-on-the-move and eventually 70-80-pound “puppy” for at least two years before the beautiful, mature, sedate and glamorous movie-star-like model you see posing majestically in all those advertising pictures emerges as a reward.  Know in advance that you will not go for leisurely “walks”, but for marathon-like “runs” with a hurtling ball of fur who must always have something unexpected in her mouth and an unrelenting need to dig new holes after sudden and unscheduled changes of direction. You must also know that every new “toy” will be loved dearly, only to end up being shredded (and probably consumed) before you have time to provide the demanded replacement. You will learn that your new companion will still be overflowing with explosive energy for hours after your own is exhausted, and that living room sofas and kitchen tables are merely set pieces in a ready-made obstacle course during a daily “cannonball run” before bedtime beckons.

            In the meantime, you will be subject to a level of unrivaled affection and human-worship which is unashamedly heartfelt and totally disarming. Most important of all, you must know that your heart will be stolen away. That in a nutshell describes life with a “Golden”.

            “Peaches” was born on January 10th, 2012 in Hurricane, Utah, one of only three females in a litter of nine; the one with a peach-colored piece of yarn around her neck as identification. She really became “ours” soon after birth, but it became official eight weeks later when she made the 14-mile trip “home” in my arms, helping (not really!) to steer the car. She has been “steering”(really!) a large part of our lives ever since.

             In time, it became clear that “Mukuntaweap Princess Peaches” brought with her a life so huge that she needed more than one owner and one home, and so it was decided that ownership and residence would be shared between our headquarters in Rockville, and the home of our dog-loving and ever-patient daughter and son-in-law in Magna – three hundred miles away, where her training would really become serious. I think no breed, and few individuals within a breed could be born with so much love to give that four humans living so far apart could share so equitably what her heart had to give. Each “home-coming” is like a gladsome reunion with a long-lost sweetheart, and for hours or days, our southern Utah home is the scene of canine jubilation and human renewal. For Shirley and me, our Golden years have been made more “golden” by a now-70-pound Retriever “puppy” who loves us without condition, in a world where such relationships are rare and wonderful.

A “get acquainted” meeting at age six weeks.

 A natural retriever from birth, a 4-month-old Peaches guards her first water-fowl. 
A home visit at age 8 months, and our “puppy” is getting to be a lapful.

At 15 months, “Peaches” is beginning to show the “regal” presence which so marks the personality of a true “Golden”, and makes them one of the most favored breeds for “Service Dog” training.


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