Golden Retrievers Speak: Showing Love and Respect

Jeter:    Let me first point out that daddy got the idea for us to talk about this particular topic from his sister, who posted a picture of one of her dogs licking the other in the face.   This is one of MY favorite things to do.    I have licked Josh since Day 1, and started doing it to Alanis not long after she got here.

Josh:   He loves to lick my face and my ears.   When I was younger and more mobile, he would sometimes get to the point where I would get annoyed and we would start wrestling.   Of course, Jeter never won a wrestling match against me.

Jeter:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.   So, you may be asking why I do this, and why the other two don’t do it as often?    There are several reasons why one dog may lick another dog.   One of them could be a sign of respect.   The most common reason, however, is likely more of a bonding/friendship type of thing.    I often lick the other dog after a play session.   To me, it could be a way of showing a special bond towards the other dog.    Alanis sometimes licks me back, but not always.  Why is that?  Let us ask her that question!     Let us see you wiggle your way out of this one, diva!

Alanis:   There really isn’t an explanation.  It doesn’t mean that Jeter likes me more than I like him.  It just means I may have other ways to show our bond.  For example, I love to follow Jeter around.  I love to get close to him when we go to bed at night.   Dogs are very complex in how we interact with each other.  Just like with humans, we have different ways to display our affection to other dogs in the house, IF indeed we actually do like the other dog.   If not, there could be problems.

Josh:  I’ve never liked you, Alanis.

Alanis:   :'(

Josh:   Get over it.   Actually, because I was already an older dog when Alanis came into the house, my play days were pretty much over.   The way for me to show her that I didn’t want to play was by essentially ignoring her if she went into a play stance.    It wasn’t a sign of dislike or disdain – it was a sign of “I am not into that anymore – sorry”.   It is actually quite funny, to me at least – stuff I would “yell” at Jeter for doing to me I would rarely (if ever) yell at Alanis for.   I just was beyond the point of really caring about it.

Jeter:  Yeah, she’s lucky that I am not as “strict” as Josh was!  He would kick the crap out of me when I got out of line.  I do not do the same to Alanis if she gets out of line.  I am a submissive dog that wants no part of being the “alpha” in any pack.

Alanis:   I am actually similar in that regard – alpha does not interest me.   But since two submissive dogs don’t make for much fun, I tend to be a little less submissive when playing with Jeter!

Jeter:  The interesting part of the relationship with Alanis is that I didn’t actually like her at first.   But that is true of any “new” dog I meet.  I was not happy to see her when we first got together – but five minutes later, we were playing in the park as if we knew each other forever.

Josh:   I accepted that little brat Jeter the first day he came into this house.   If only I knew better – I was the boss, after all.  If I didn’t like having another dog or animal in this house, I could have easily rejected the idea and my parents would have had no choice other than to keep me as an only dog!

Jeter:   Your biggest mistake was liking the rabbit they had for a little while, Josh!  If you reject the rabbit, they may not have even TRIED to bring another animal into the house.

Josh:   Yep.    We co-exist great as three dogs in this house.  There really isn’t much of an alpha anymore, since I have retired from caring about any of that stuff.   I was the ruler of the dog world when I wanted to be, though.

Me:   Relationships between multiple animals in your household can be complicated.   As Jeter pointed out, we once had a rabbit in this house who tragically passed away.  Josh had no issues at all with that rabbit.  We never left them alone together, but he was perfectly OK with a bunny hopping around in the exercise room.   When it comes to multiple dogs, the best case scenario will always be that they can coexist in the household without any issues.  Like humans, dogs will have the occasional “disagreement”.  Unlike humans, they can usually let it go instead of holding a 50-year grudge over spilled grape juice.    As I like to say in this blog, watch your dogs closely for anything obvious.  It is essentially a bad thing if one dog is constantly growling at another dog.     Consider licking, cuddling up next to each other, not fighting over food, etc. as good things.  Dogs by nature are pack animals that will form their own little hierarchy.  Don’t try to fight their hierarchy unless you are getting the feeling that they are trying to be the true leader of the entire household (meaning:  Including YOU).   They have many years of evolution on their side, and will be able to figure it out for themselves.  In the meantime, consider a multi-dog house without any (or many) issues to be a blessing.  

Golden Retrievers Speak: Wet Doggie!

Jeter:    Daddy woke up today on a mission:  He was going to take us for a walk regardless of the weather, as tomorrow figures to be a very windy and rainy day!   He is crazy about the weather – and when I say crazy, I mean OBSESSED.  He is a lunatic.   If they predict a wind gust of 10 MPH, he wants to run into the basement that we don’t even have.    Anyway, today he thought he had a window to walk us in.  A window where it may drizzle and shower a bit, but it wouldn’t actually rain.  Boy, was he wrong.

Alanis:   And, of course, the rain finds a way to make me even more hyper than I already am.   At one point during the walk, I was gearing up to do some zoomies, while on a leash!    He put an end to that real fast, but I was a very hyper dog on today’s walk because of the rain.

Jeter:  Too hyper, you lunatic.  When that leash is on me and I am going for a walk, I am laser focused on one thing and one thing only:   WALKING!   Sure, I may become distracted by a cat or a squirrel.  I may want to sniff a tree from time to time, but I want to walk!  Walking is not play time.    And in this area, playing can be dangerous, as some of the roads can be a bit busy.

Alanis:  Oh, he has experience walking us by now Jeter – we won’t get hurt!  Weeeeeeeee!  Let’s play.   Oh, and bark too!  I love to bark at anything and everything that walks by me during a walk.  It is fun to embarrass my daddy as people thing I am some sort of monster just because I bark.   I am WAGGING M Y TAIL, people!  I do it for attention.

Me:  You sure do.  And some people are indeed scared of that behavior.  It is pretty funny, really – it goes back to my basic point:  Don’t ever assume a dog is friendly just because he is seemingly panting and smiling as he is walking.  And don’t assume the dog is mean because he is barking at you.  Pay attention to other cues, and never approach a dog unless the person walking the dog gives permission.  That person knows all about the dog’s personality.

Jeter:  Since when do you interrupt us while we are talking, daddy?  Wait your turn.

Josh:  Sorry, I was sleeping.  Are we talking about treats?   I love treats!

Alanis:  Go back to bed, dog.  We are not talking about treats!

Jeter:    Anyway, the walk was a good 50 minutes and, of course, it rained a lot more than daddy thought it would (don’t give up your day job, moron).   Alanis and I came into the house soaked.  Completely and utterly soaked.  And of course, daddy (with his pea-sized brain) wiped us off with a DIRTY TOWEL.  That worked well, Einstein.

Alanis:    What a mess we were!  But of course, we don’t care.  We want to run around the house, shaking the water off of us on every possible piece of furniture we can find.

Jeter:  I hear they refuse to get nice things because of us.

Josh:    Treats are nice!

Alanis:   Ugh.    Anyway, yes – we were drenched.   It was not easy to dry us off, but eventually, we dried off well and went on with our day.

Me:  Wet dogs, indeed.  It was a mess, but when you walk into a bit of a downpour 20 minutes into the walk, there is no real use to turn back – may as well finish what was started.  Golden Retrievers have thick coats, and if those coats get wet, it can be a bear to dry them off.  Jeter actually has a perfect coat that typically will dry off quickly, but for today, it took a bit longer.   When Josh would walk in the rain or get caught outside in the rain, it was a complete disaster, as his coat is very thick and unruly.     Alanis is somewhere between – she doesn’t have the coat of a bear like Josh, but also doesn’t have the smoother, silkier coat that Jeter was blessed with.  Any way, there isn’t really much of a “lesson” today..other than making sure you have plenty of “dog towels” at your disposal for days like today.    Dogs will get wet, and they aren’t vain about it.   A couple of hours after the walk, Alanis was outside again – just standing in the rain for a good ten minutes.  By the way, although I haven’t taught my dogs the trick, you can actually train your dogs to do that shaking motion they do when they are wet on command!    

Golden Retrievers: A Day in the Life

Me:   For today’s entry, I asked the dogs to document their entire day.  Here is what they came up with!

Jeter:   12:00am – I am still with my mommy as she completes her work for the day.   I love to hang around with mommy, if you haven’t figured that out yet….

Alanis:  12:00am – I am in daddy’s office, sleeping.   The funny part about that is that he is actually downstairs.  I am in here all alone – as I have started to mature, I have shown a little more independence.

Josh:   12:00am – Simply put, I am done for the day, folks.  I am on the floor, trying to fall asleep as I type this.   I am older.  I sleep a lot.   I have arthritis, so I sleep a lot.    Perhaps there will be a post written about how a day in my life used to be – kind of like how This is Us does the time travel thing!

Jeter:  1:00am – My parents are weird.  They start watching their DVR’d shows at 1:00am.   That works for us a bit, because at 1:00am, we get treats!  Daddy eats some string cheese after midnight and always saves some for us.

Alanis:  1:00am – I love the string cheese.  Mommy also gives us a little treat around this time.  Mommy’s schedule is so interesting – she actually eats her dinner around 1:00am every morning…..this morning, she is eating a frozen dinner, corn, and some slow cooker macaroni and cheese.

Jeter:  1:15am – Time for Alanis and me to play.   We will play for a good 45 minutes around this time, though tonight I am thinking of cutting it a bit short.   Yep, I typically control the play time.  When I am done, I jump on the couch and curl into a ball.  Alanis may still try to get me to play more, and sometimes it actually does work.  I am a sucker for play….

Alanis 1:45am – Seems that Jeter is done for the day, so I am going to jump on the couch and go to sleep as well.

Jeter 3:30am – Jeopardy is over (due to my seizures, my parents mute Final Jeopardy!), so it is time for daddy to go to bed.  Mommy will stay up longer to do her thing while daddy goes to bed.    I will stay down here with her.

Alanis:  3:30am – I am a bit more erratic, but lately, I have stayed downstairs as well.  Sometimes, I will barge into the bedroom to lay by daddy.   I don’t have a set plan like Jeter does.

Josh:  9:30am – Time for breakfast!   I am the oldest, so I will get fed first.  One of my favorite parts of the day – though I don’t eat as much as I used to.

Jeter:  9:30am – Mommy gives me Rachel Ray dry and wet dog food.  I love all the varieties of the wet food.

Alanis: 9:30am – I only get the Rachel Ray dry.     Good stuff.  I also love the Earthborn when daddy brings that home.

Alanis:  9:45am – I will now go upstairs and lay in daddy’s office as he works.   Good time for a post-meal nap.

Jeter:  9:45am – I will often go behind a chair and take a nap around this time while mommy works out.

Alanis:  12:15pm – Daddy just got up!  I think it is time for our walk!   Let’s go!

Jeter:  12:19pm – He is coming downstairs – must be time for our walk!  I love going for walks.  It is one of my favorite activities.

Alanis & Jeter 1:20pm – We just got home from our 53 minute walk (according to Runkeeper, whatever that is).   Funny that daddy will now give us a treat…after taking us for a walk, which I thought may just be a treat by itself!

Alanis 1:30pm – I will now go lay in daddy’s office again for the rest of his work day….

Jeter 3:45pm – Time to go to bed with mommy!  She has such a weird schedule, but I love it.  I follow her into the room and lay down in the dog bed they have in there.

Alanis 5:05pm – Time for dinner!   I do this neat little trick where daddy says “Go get your brother”.  I have figured out how to open the bedroom door by the handle to let Jeter out of the room.

Josh 5:10pm – Here comes the cavalry!  I guess it is time for dinner   Lately, I have left some kibble over from breakfast and I just finish it off for dinner.  Old age does a lot to a dog.

Jeter 5:15pm – I don’t get the wet food for dinner.  Daddy is so lazy.  He just drops some dry food in a bowl and tells me to eat it.   Not that I ever turn it down.

Alanis 5:16pm – I am such a lunatic with my bowl.  It starts in the kitchen, and ends up in another random room.  I push it all over the place as I eat……

Jeter 5:35pm – I am done going to the bathroom, so guess where I go now?  Yep – back up to sleep with mommy!  Sometimes, daddy will play with us for a while before I go back to bed, but not today.  Mommy doesn’t even call me or anything – I just automatically go back upstairs and back to bed.

Alanis 5:40pm – This is usually the time where I show off some independence.  Sometimes, I will take a nap downstairs, sometimes I will go back upstairs.  Daddy usually does some sort of workout or walk around the house around this time.  It really is our quiet time in this house.

Alanis 6:00pm – Daddy is going to his favorite place for dinner!   He really is a high-end kind of guy – going out to dinner every Friday night in his suit.  Actually, he goes to WaWa (it is an East Coast thing) to get a sandwich while in his pajama pants.  Damn, if I was a child instead of a dog, he would be so embarrassing.

Jeter 6:05pm –  Even as a dog, I find him embarrassing more times than not…

Alanis 6:06pm – LOL.

Alanis 11:30pm – Time for daddy to go downstairs and do some walking in circles (what a weird man – he does it for his FitBit counts.  I have never seen anyone take enjoyment in doing such a mundane thing.  And he will keep walking until Mommy comes downstairs.

Me:   Dogs have such a fun existence, don’t they?  They eat, they play, they sleep.     That is the summary of everything above.   Since it is a weekend night, Colleen sleeps a bit longer, since she doesn’t have to do work.   Typically, Jeter would get up with her around 11:00pm for that purpose.  I think this post actually illustrates something else about dogs and being a dog lover:  Nothing about the above is really all that exciting in the grand scheme of things.   But we wouldn’t really want it any other way.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Treat Us Right!

Me:  I thought I would begin this discussion.   I recently came across a Facebook post (If that link doesn’t take you anywhere, it likely has been taken down) about a Golden Retriever owner who is ranting about his dog.  Within the post, he discusses “beating the shit out of him” and threatening to turn him into an “outside dog”.     The owner actually responded to the thread in an attempt to clear things up, which was great and all – but there were still a few not-so-ideal thoughts in his post (claiming he “only” spanked the dog for acting inappropriately)    We will continue the discussion below with my dogs, and go from there.

Josh:   This is a very serious situation.  When you own a dog, you have to understand that even the most well-trained and behaved dog will occasionally do things that will cause you to shake your head.   I used to steal my mommy’s underwear.   I once pooped in her car during a road trip.   As noted in an other post, I got out of the yard on multiple occasions.  I dug holes under fences.   I ripped shirts.   These are things that dogs do, for various reasons.  The key is that if you don’t like a behavior, you need to correct it appropriately.   Remember one basic rule when it comes to dogs:   If you don’t catch us in the act, you may as well just let it go.   We have already forgotten about our bad deed.

Jeter:   I know we often talk about how good I have always been, and it is mostly true.  Mischief has never been my thing, and I have mostly stayed out of trouble.

Alanis:    Just like with Josh, I have my share of stories to tell.    I have chewed drywall, destroyed couch cushions, and stolen socks.

Josh:   If you catch us in the act, a stern “No” can go a long way in teaching us that the behavior is not right.   If we steal your lunch off of the kitchen table (something NONE of us has actually ever done, surprisingly), and you don’t catch us, there are ways you can fix it.  The best way to do it is by setting us up with a bit of temptation.   Essentially, place a piece of food on the kitchen table and walk out of the room (keeping your dog in sight of you).   Once one of us makes a move towards the food, give a stern “Leave it!” command (assuming you have taught us this command).   Eventually, we come to think that you are everywhere and can see us doing everything.   is this method foolproof?  Of course not.  The best way to make sure we never touch your food is by putting it somewhere where we can’t actually get it.   Remember, it is up to you to make the environment safe for us.   If you leave things to fate, you are likely to be disappointed in the overall results.

Jeter:  The “Leave it” command is one of my favorites, and it should be one of the first commands you teach your dog.   Imagine a scenario where you are taking your dogs for a walk and you come across a meal that someone dumped in the road.   The instinct of the dog is to eat the food.   Obviously, you don’t want that – a good command can potentially be life saving.

Alanis:   And it isn’t a very hard command to teach.

Josh:  As for threatening to turn us into outside dogs, there isn’t much worse you can do to our breed than make us outside pets.    Don’t get us wrong – we love to be outside.  We just don’t necessarily want to live outside.  If you don’t want us to have access to certain rooms in the house, close them off.  Use gates.  There is no harm in that – it can actually protect us from ourselves.  Our parents always have the laundry room closed, for example.    Nobody is saying to give us full run of the house .    If there are things in a certain room that you don’t want us to access, close it off – especially when you aren’t home.   There are so many ways to can control situations that are humane and defensible.

Me:   Exactly.  The purpose of this blog is to look at things from the mind of the dog.   I like things to be a bit on the lighter side, but sometimes a more serious topic can come up that needs to be addressed.   I don’t know what the poster above was thinking when he made those remarks, but we should always remember that in the social media age, everything you say is going to be taken in full context.  I hope for the sake of the family and the sake of the dog that nothing awful is going on there, regardless of the tone of the post.   Everyone needs to understand that when you get a dog, it is a commitment to keep them safe and happy.   It is a commitment that if you want a good canine citizen that you will need to work at it.   If you go down the path of spanking or hitting your dog, you are doing nothing more than raising a dog to be frightened.   And a frightened dog is a dog that can go from the sweetest, most friendly dog in the world to a dog that can bite you.   If you think spanking is teaching them a lesson, you are absolutely wrong.   Enforce the behaviors you don’t want your dog doing by working with them to correct the behavior in a way that dogs will actually understand.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Pills and Thrills

Josh:   Well, there certainly isn’t any thrill in taking pills.  Given my condition, I am on a pretty heavy cocktail of medication to keep me feeling comfortable.  Arthritis is not fun, folks.

Jeter:     I am only on the basics.   I take a heartworm preventative monthly.  We also get flea and tick treatments in the form of a pill.

Alanis:  I take the same cocktail Jeter does.   The funny thing is that all three of us take the heartworm medication as if it is candy.   Little do we know that the medication is essential to keep us healthy.  If we understood that, we could certainly force them to use treats to get the pills into our bodies.

Josh:  I don’t like my pain medication at all.   Mommy buries it in a big hunk of biscuit, and I still find a way to spit them out.   I am quite clever (and stubborn) in my old age.  As daddy likes to say, I have lost my mobility, but I have not lost my brain.    I am still quite aware of my surroundings and can outsmart any of you young whipper snappers!

Jeter:   Luckily for me, I have never needed to take medication for my seizures.   I hear it can change the personality of the dog, and everyone knows my personality is perfect as is.

Alanis:  Your personality is one every dog should strive for.   Thankfully, I haven’t needed any kind of medication yet, beyond the essentials.    I have yet to wear the “cone of shame” since I came here.  I am hoping I can avoid it for as long as possible.

Jeter:  The cone is a pain in the ass, no doubt.   Josh has to wear it more often than most dogs, but he is such a trooper.  The few times I have worn one, I have hated it with a passion.

Josh:  It’s fine.  I sleep so often that the cone is meaningless.

Alanis:   Why is the title of this post “Pills and Thrills, anyway?”

Jeter:  Daddy probably wanted to come up with something catchy – listen, doggies, and listen carefully:  THERE IS NOTHING THRILLING ABOUT PILLS! NOTHING.   Avoid them at all costs, and spit them out so that you can at least force your owners to give you more treats!

Josh:  It is also very important for pet owners to understand that human medications may not be suitable for us.   Don’t just assume that because you can knock out your back pain with an Aleve that it will also work for us.  That is not true.   Talk to your doctor about any human medications that may be safe for us to use.   I would take it even further than that – research it.  Even if a doctor says it is OK, you still may want to read up about any potential problems other dogs have had.

Me:    I doubt you will find an owner who will say that giving dogs medication is fun and easy.  My dogs do seem to love their heartworm medication (Interceptor), for whatever that reason may be.   This medication is essential for your dog.  When I was growing up, I had a dog who had issues with heartworm, and it was not a pleasant experience – especially for the dog.  You may read some people who may not give this medication – that is essentially playing Russian Roulette with your animal.   It is possible they will avoid worms – but if they don’t, expect some potentially serious consequences.   Fleas have been an issue with my dogs through the years, so preventive measures are not always 100% – though that is true for most any medication, canine or human.  Fleas can be a major problem for your dog’s health and your home.   They reproduce rapidly, and you can have an infestation in no time.    Keeping your dog up to date on their medications will not only help them long term, but it will also help you and your environment.     Heartworm has been found in dogs in all 50 states, though there are areas within certain states where it won’t be as widespread.  As always, consult with your vet and make sure your dog is tested for heartworm as well as using the preventative.   It is a dangerous disease, but also one that is relatively easy to prevent.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Happy Birthday!

Alanis:  Today is my third birthday.   Time flies when you are a dog.   At least that is what humans tell us – we have no real concept of time.

Jeter:  Three years old.  Goldens tend to mature later than most dogs – you are essentially just now entering your “adult” years, whatever that means.  I still feel like a puppy!

Josh:  When I turned three, they didn’t have toys with squeakers that only dogs could hear…

Jeter:  Here we go with your nostalgia.

Josh:   Mommy once baked me a birthday cake!  Neither of you have ever received such an honor.

Alanis:  We get treats and toys for our birthdays!  Yay!

Jeter:  We get treats every day, and toys once a month or so.

Alanis:  True.  So, what is special about our birthdays, anyway?

Josh:  Nothing.  We don’t care one bit about our birthdays – humans just like to live vicariously through us.  Back in my day, I was lucky if I got a bag of Beggin’ Strips – never mind all of this “all natural” crap they have out now.

Jeter:    Cue the violins!

Alanis:   Jeter and I went for a long walk for my birthday!

Jeter:  We do that every day, Einstein.

Alanis:  Right.  So, what exactly did we do differently today than any other day?

Jeter:  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.   Though you did get a Facebook collage.   Wonder how many likes it got?

Josh:  I love the collages.   Mommy knows what she is doing.

Jeter:  Can you imagine if Daddy did them?

Josh:   OMG.  Don’t even.    Everything he touches is already a disaster.

Alanis:  One of the pictures in my collage is a perfect image of me with my “resting bitch face”.

Jeter:  You have that down to a science…..

Josh:   Back in my day….


Josh & Jeter:   Happy Birthday, Alanis!   Here’s hoping for a lot of play, a lot of food, and less of your crazy barking.

Me:   Indeed, time does not really compute in a dog’s brain.   Like I said in the Christmas post, every day is a dog’s birthday in their eyes.  They wake up and get to do whatever they want until they go back to sleep again.    Treating your dogs well should be something you do every day & night, but there is nothing wrong with a birthday splurge.   That can be a toy, a treat, a cake – or whatever your imagination can think of.   For Alanis’ birthday, the dogs will be getting a special meatball treat later.     As for a Golden Retriever’s maturity, it is indeed true that this breed tends to mature a bit later than most breeds.   That may not really be all that meaningful in the long run, but dogs have their phases just like humans do.    You should definitely see at least some change in your dogs as the years go by.  Just like you see changes in your children, or your parents.  It is all a part of the circle of life.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Should You Get One of Me?

Josh:   Of course you should!   Duh!

Jeter:    Why is this a topic of discussion?  Why wouldn’t you want one?

Me:   OK, I understand – the three dogs in this house have it made.  But this is like a baseball fan telling a non-baseball fan “Of course you should love baseball!”   There could be people reading about your experiences who want to know if they should actually move forward and consider adopting a Golden Retriever.    So take that approach….

Josh:  Gotcha.    Dogs of my breed are known to be great family pets – big dogs with clown-like personalities who can keep you entertained with our craziness one minute before cuddling up next to you to watch TV.  We easily adapt to your lifestyle, but we love having people around.   We love to do things.   If we get bored, we will find something to do – typically at the expense of something you would rather us not get into.   For me, it was digging holes in the backyard when I get bored.

Jeter:   I am a people dog.  I admit it – I truly do not like it when I don’t have people around me.   That comes from my upbringing. My mommy and daddy both work from home, so they are usually around.  And if they do go out without me, I have always had another dog in the house with me.  I’ve never been alone in this house.

Alanis:  My first family was your typical working family with kids who went to school, so I have more experience being alone for a while at a time.  I adapted to that lifestyle, but love my new family as there is always a person or a dog around me.

Josh:   If you are thinking of getting one of us (well, not us – my family would never allow you to take us!), remember that we do like to be around people.  That doesn’t mean you need to be around us 24/7.   Like most dogs, we can adapt to your schedule.  But if you are a family that leaves at 8 AM every morning and doesn’t come home until 9 PM, that is going to be rough on us, unless you hire a dog sitter.

Jeter:  We are also a very playful breed.     We love our tennis balls and love to play a good game of fetch.   If you only bring one of us into your household, remember that it will be up to you to keep us exercised and fulfilled.  We can certainly entertain ourselves, but we can also get to be a bit lazy if you let us.

Josh:   When I was the “only” dog, I would entertain myself (and hopefully them!) by running around the house, flailing a big turtle toy (typically ripping it apart within a few weeks of getting a new one).   But, as I said above, I would also dig holes in the yard if I needed to let some energy out.  My parents learned that even though I am a bit calmer than a typical Golden, I still needed to be exercised.  To be exact, being calm means I needed to be exercised more.  Why?  Because I could easily get lazy.

Jeter:   Walks can be a big help.  My daddy takes us for walks very often for 40 minutes up to an hour.   Nobody is saying you have to do that, but even a nice brisk walk around the block can do wonders.

Alanis:     Also remember that our coats can tend to be gnarly if they aren’t properly taken care of.   Brushing our coats every now and again can keep nasty tangles at bay.

Josh:  In this house, that was always especially true of me!

Jeter:   Yep.  I have a great coat – even if it doesn’t get brushed, it tends to stay very clean and easily managed.

Alanis:  Mine is somewhere in between!  Last time I went to the groomer, she essentially needed to cut all of the hair around my butt.  I was a bare butt dog.

Jeter:  That was funny.

Josh:  Also remember that we can have some medical conditions.  We are prone to having bad hips (me!).    The dreaded “C” word is also prevalent in our breed.  Most of us won’t get struck by these conditions until later in life, but be aware of the fact they are more common in Golden Retrievers than most breeds.

Jeter:    Don’t let that force you to stay away from  us.  We are just like humans.  Some humans can live until they are 100 without a single surgery in their lifetimes, while others can unfortunately get struck with cancer as babies.   While you certainly should take medical worries into consideration, remember that most of us will live a normal Golden lifespan.  A lifespan that would certainly be longer if not for those potential issues.

Alanis:     There aren’t any certain ways to prevent cancer in our breed, just like you can’t 100% prevent it in a human.  But a strong diet, exercise, and regular vet visits can reduce some of the risk.   A strong diet can also help when it comes to issues with arthritis.

Josh:   Of course, that didn’t help with my arthritis, which I developed early in life despite my outstanding pedigree.   Stuff happens – as dogs, we just smile and move along.

Me:    If you want an active breed that is typically great with kids, a Golden Retriever ranks high on the list of dogs you should consider.   Given their sweet dispositions and overall beauty, it is easy for families to fall into the trap of adopting or buying a Golden without doing full research.  They are active dogs that can cause some destruction if they are bored.     They will need training.  I would never say a fenced-in yard is a must for any dog, but it definitely does help.  Some Golden rescue operations may not even consider you unless you have a fence on your property.    The breed can get to get big (over 100 pounds in some cases, though none of our dogs are that big), so keep that in mind.  If they are very playful, they have the potential to knock over a small child.    Overall, they are one of the most popular breeds in America for a reason – they are wonderful, friendly dogs.   If you are active family, they will fit right into your lifestyle.  If you live a calmer existence (which my wife and I certainly do!), they will adapt to that lifestyle.     If you go to a reputable breeder or rescue organization, they should tell you flat-out whether a Golden is right for you.   And if so, they should be able to match up your lifestyle to one of their dogs.    Just enjoy the process from start to finish and you will have many happy years to spend with your pup.

Golden Retrievers Speak: To Crate Or Not to Crate

Josh:    I was brought into this house the day before my mommy needed to finish up all of her Christmas shopping.  Suffice to say, I was going to be home for hours by myself.   My parents had not yet purchased a crate (they did it that day), so I was given access to most of the house on my first full day of living here.  This could have been a disaster, as I am a Golden Retriever and we can get quite bored very quickly.    Thankfully (for them), I didn’t get into any mischief at all. Nothing was broken, nothing was eaten, and I didn’t have any accidents.

Jeter:   That is quite amazing!   When I first came home, they had a crate all ready for me – I was going to be a crate trained dog.   I would spend many nights inside my crate, and I was enthusiastic about going in it to go to sleep at night.  It became a part of my routine….

Josh:   They never did get around to actually crate training me.   To be exact, daddy took the crate out of the box and placed it on the floor.   The next morning, I proceeded to pee all over it.     I guess that was the end of that experiment.   They were very lucky with me.    I wasn’t a destructive dog when I was bored – at least not INSIDE the house.

Jeter:     You will likely forever be the only dog they have that was never crate trained….

Alanis:  I came to this house crate-trained.      Daddy made the big mistake, however, of going food shopping without putting me in my crate.  I chewed a big hole in their drywall and ripped apart couch cushions.    He learned quickly that I needed to be in my crate for the sake of the house and for my safety.  Nowadays, I don’t go in the crate every time they are out, unless they are going to be out for a while.   I do love my crate, though…

Jeter:  Your crate is one of those closed-in crates.  I have one of those metal, open crates.    I no longer go in my crate, but I liked not being closed in.

Alanis:  I like being closed in.   It gives me the feeling of being in a nice, safe cave.   Just like my ancestors.

Josh:  You two are crazy!    I have always had FREEDOM!  Do you two not get it?   What fun is there in going inside of an enclosed structure with no place to go?

Jeter:  But what is the difference, old man?   All we do is sleep when they are away, anyway.

Alanis:   Yeah, I am no longer destructive – we just all find our own little spots and go to sleep.  Well, except for Jeter – he doesn’t like it when there aren’t people around him.   Needy Middle Child Syndrome.

Jeter:  I’m needy?  That’s a laugh.  Which dog is the dog that has to BARK every single time she needs attention?  Every single time we are fed?  Every single time she wants to come into the house?   Every single time she sees a person or a dog when we go for a walk?    There is a reason why you are the diva of this group – and it isn’t just because you are a girl.

Alanis:  WOOF!

Josh:  OK, enough of this.   You two have freely accepted being locked in a cage, while I told them on Day 1 that I was having none of it.

Jeter & Alanis: at the same time:   But, I kind of like it……..

Me:   First of all, yes – that is Jeter in the picture above, “waving” at Josh. Anyway, I strongly recommend crate training your dog.   Dogs love having a safe haven where they can go when they are scared.   People like having the piece of mind that their house won’t get destroyed if they are gone for hours.     If you transport your dog around the country, having them in a crate in your van can keep them (and you!) safe.    Crates are also essential in housebreaking, as dogs have an instinct to not soil where they sleep.  Hence, they are likely to learn more bladder control.     DO NOT USE A CRATE AS PUNISHMENT!  One sure-fire way to make sure your dog will come to despise their crates is if you throw them in there against their will because you think the dog did something bad.  Crates need to be a safe haven and a fun place for them to want to go.   More information can be found here.  

Golden Retrievers Speak: Off to the Vet!

Josh:  Oh, the dreaded yearly checkup at the vet.    When I was younger, I was the best dog in the world at the vet.  I was calm.  I would let the vet do whatever they wanted to me with a smile on my face.   Nothing bothered me.  Sure, I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.  Sure, I would jump on my daddy when I got nervous.   Overall, however, it never did quite bother me much.  It was just a major inconvenience.

Jeter:   If only I was like Josh!  The vet terrifies me.  Not the doctor herself – just the entire idea of going to the vet.  I get panicky.  I am not a vocal dog at all – I rarely bark and I rarely cry.  If I get accidentally closed into a room, I don’t cry to come out – I just sit by the door and wait for someone to get me.   When I bark, I can’t even sustain it like most dogs –  I let out a few before stopping.   However, when I go to the vet, I do cry.  I jump on my daddy, and I want nothing to do with going into one of the dreaded rooms….

Alanis:  I know you are all going to call me strange, but I am used to that by now.   It isn’t that I actually love the vet, but I sure do act that way.  I look at it as I look at everything in the world:   A play session!  I try to go behind the receptionist desk to play with the people back there.  I try to play with the vet techs.   I bark like a lunatic, like I always do when I am actually excited.  I don’t push or pull to leave – I walk into the dreaded office as if it is a playroom.

Jeter:  You are one strange dog – I can’t even.    The worst thing about going to the vet is that someone, a LONG time ago, put the dreaded “WILL BITE!” sticker in my chart.   My daddy swears I have never bitten a soul at the vet.  The indicator was put in there a long time ago – the entire staff has changed since then – but we have no idea how or why it got there or how I got the stigma.  There is no doubt that I hate it there and that I need to be held for when they take my temperature or draw blood.    But BITE?   Never.

Josh:   That is strange, indeed.    Probably my funniest story (which wasn’t funny at the time!) is when there was a grooming accident at home – my owners accidentally cut me as they were grooming me.   As the story goes, I had blood on my fur but pretty much didn’t complain one bit.  I didn’t yelp or “shout” in pain.  I didn’t cry.  I acted as if nothing at all happened to me.   My parents didn’t call the emergency room that night, but they did take me in the next day.  I needed to go into surgery to get some stitches on the wound.  Daddy didn’t tell my mommy that I needed to go under for the stitches – didn’t want to panic her.  I came out of it all just fine……..

Jeter:  That indeed was a scary story that became just another tidbit about Josh – the happy-go-lucky dog that never complains.

Alanis:   I don’t really have any funny vet stories just yet…..

Jeter:   I don’t really have one either – other than the gross stuff.  When I was younger,  I was unable to “express” myself when I pooped.  I was prone to scooting because of this.  Daddy had to bring me to the vet fairly often so that they could work on those anal glands!   I guess somewhere along the way, my body started to do it since I never have to go to the vet for that purpose anymore.

Josh:   How about the leg injury?

Jeter:  Well, yeah – when I was really young, I was playing ball with my daddy.  I started limping badly on one of my legs, so he rushed me to the vet.    By the time the doctor saw me in the office, I was no longer limping!    I was acting as if there was nothing wrong with me at all.  The doctor decided not to do any kind of x-ray because I was acting fairly normal.   It is possible I simply strained a ligament………

Alanis:  You two are full of stories!   Maybe one day, I too will have a good vet story!

Me:   Boring is good in this case, Alanis!    Just like kids will be kids, dogs will be dogs.  They will injure themselves.  They will have days where they simply don’t want to eat for reasons you are not likely to figure out (especially if it is a benign reason!).   They will have days where they don’t want to play or be active.    When you own a dog, observe them closely.   Even dogs who are of the same breed will have unique characteristics about them.    Something that may raise an alarm bell about one dog may be more common for another.  A perfect example in our house:  Jeter has always been an active dog.  So when he is lethargic, we know something is wrong.    However, even in his younger days, Josh had a tendency to be a calmer Golden Retriever.  A day of Josh not wanting to play was not really concerning.     I have said this a few times in this blog:  KNOW YOUR DOG.   Don’t panic at every little thing that is out of the ordinary, but also don’t gloss over an obvious change in behavior.    As for shots, talk to your vet about how you want to go about keeping your dog protected from disease.  Rabies will always be mandatory, though in recent years, they have developed a 3-year shot for that disease.   Other shots are also now going the 3-year route.   A good vet is not going to force vaccinations down your throat.  A good vet will work with you to offer the best care for your dog.  Studies on vaccines are always being conducted.  Do your research and make the best possible decisions you can.   You may also want to look into titer testing, a test that is designed to see if your dog is still immune to the diseases a vaccine is trying to guard against.  (Full disclosure:  I have never done any titer testing for my dogs, but have considered it).    Obviously, i am completely in favor of taking your dog to the vet at least once a  year just to get the basic wellness.  Just like with humans, that one trip to the doctor can save their lives if something underlying is going on within their bodies.



Golden Retrievers Speak: It’s Snowing!

Josh:   When I was younger, I loved the snow.   Whenever it would snow, I would run around outside like a goofball, prancing over any snowbanks in the yard.  I also had this tendency to roll around in it, to get myself nice and wet – after all, I didn’t have to clean myself when I was done!  That was for my parents to do.   As I got older, I would still roll around in it, though I was no longer the goofball I once was.

Jeter:   Only a few months or so after I moved in here, we had a blizzard.  It was crazy.   Daddy had to put Josh and myself out on that crazy night, and went into panic mode when Josh essentially lead me to a blind spot in the yard where we couldn’t be seen.   I am not sure how we got back into the house (I am sure Josh simply lead the way for me to follow), but what was fun for us certainly was not fun for daddy.   That also was the first night where I was allowed to stay out of my crate all night long.   It wasn’t the last time I was able to do that, but it was nice to spend the cold, wintry night with my family.  Daddy didn’t let us back out until the next day though.

Alanis:  The big snowstorms they are talking about are storms I have not yet really experienced here.  I understand that down the Jersey Shore, we can get hit with some monster storms due to all of the moisture coming off of the ocean – but they are quite rare, as many such storms turn into rain events if they form at all.   Today, I experienced a nice 8″ storm though, and I was having a blast.  My mommy commented that she got a bit nostalgic for Josh, because I was acting like Josh used to act in the snow – running around like a crazed lunatic without any cares in the world.   Maybe someday I will experience a big blizzard, but this storm was perfect for me….

Jeter:  She really was crazy today.  While she was doing that, I was actually laying down in a big pile of snow on the deck – with the junco birds, who weren’t all that scared that I was laying there (until I moved, of course!)

Josh:  I just watched from inside the house – no real motivation for the snow.  Nice and toasty inside the house, where I can eat, drink, and just sleep.   That is the most important thing in my life nowadays – sleep.

Alanis:  I wish I was around when Josh was crazy in the snow.  We could have had so much fun!

Josh:   I think fences would have been broken.

Jeter:  I was never like that in the snow – I do like to eat the snow and dig through it, though.  Especially if I know there is a tennis ball beneath it all.  I also will pull out sticks and chew on them.   Interestingly, I never do this when there are sticks randomly laying around the yard.  I only do it when there is snow!

Alanis:  Daddy didn’t play ball with us in the snow today.  Lazy daddy!

Jeter:  He claims he is still getting over an illness and didn’t want to expose himself to the conditions….

Alanis:  Yeah, right.  He just didn’t want to be bothered.  But we made our own fun.  We were out there for at least a half an hour on two different occasions today……

Jeter:   I am exhausted from it all, to be honest – I am going to go take a nap now so that we can play at 1 in the morning and drive them crazy as they are watching the Dummy Box!

Alanis:  My favorite part of the day……..

Me:   Dogs seem to LOVE snow, and it certainly can make things easier for owners who are looking for ways to exercise their dogs.   They pretty much take care of it all themselves by rolling around in it, running through it, etc.  I am getting over a cold, but in the past, I have been able to keep them occupied simply by throwing a tennis ball in a snowbank.  They would dig through the snow, trying to find it.    Just like with children, dogs consider a “snow day” a fun treat, and there really aren’t many precautions to take.  Obviously, you want to make sure they don’t overdo it, and watch for any signs that they are getting lethargic or feeling too cold to stay out there.   Dogs like Golden Retrievers are built for these elements, though – and you really shouldn’t have to worry about much of anything, other than an injury as they run around.   Enjoy days like these with your pups – they don’t get too many of them in their lifetimes, unless you live in Alaska.    The days will give you memories that can last a lifetime, just like the memories we had today of Josh back when he would run in the snow like Alanis did today.