Golden Retrievers Speak: A Walk Through the Neighborhood

Jeter:   One of my favorite daily activities is my long walk through the neighborhood.  Daddy takes us down a bunch of different streets so that we can get different sights and smells.  Yes, as dogs, we LOVE that!   We’ll take any walk, but if you can occasionally get us down a street we rarely frequent, it makes it even that much better.

Alanis:  I have grown to like walks.  I didn’t like them at first.  My first family even told Daddy that I was a very stubborn walker who didn’t want to walk more than a block before stopping.     Through training and recognizing how much fun these adventures can be, I have grown to enjoy them more.  I no longer resist, and I am less insistent on going down the streets that I instinctively know take me closer to home….

Jeter:  That was a Josh trait.  When Josh was done walking, he just knew what roads would get him back faster, and would start pulling Daddy towards them.  He had a limit in his head, and when he was done, he let you know.

Alanis:  We met a new yellow lab recently.  She lives right next door to the older yellow lab that used to run along the fence when we would come into view.  He doesn’t do that any more (though maybe he will when it gets warmer again?), but he does lay next to the front door and bark at us when we walk by.  The new lab acts just like the older one did was he was younger – runs along the fence, barking at us when we walk by.      We know exactly what house it is, because we get all excited walking by the house even when she is not outside.

Jeter:    It is always fun to see new dogs in the neighborhood, and there are a lot of them.  There is another new dog right down the street – we haven’t really met him or her yet, but she lives in the same house as another yellow lab once did years ago.

Alanis:  How about the young kids we walk by every day?

Jeter:    Daddy gets uncomfortable with them, because he doesn’t know their intentions!   Rarely do kids ask to pet us nowadays, but when they do, he is very quick to point out that both of us WILL jump when we get excited.  He won’t really let us go by kids he thinks we will knock over!

Alanis:  How about that kid in the wagon the other day?   YOU MADE HIM CRY!

Jeter:  LOL…yeah, as the father was petting you, I went over to the wagon and licked the toddler.   He was crying within five seconds.  I was only trying to be friendly! 🙁

Alanis:  He may have just been crying at the sight of Daddy.

Jeter:   I think that definitely contributed.

Alanis:   I hear I am a bit like Josh in that I want to greet everyone when we walk?

Jeter:   Yes.  The difference is that people actually are taken aback a bit by you because as you go towards them, you bark!   Josh never did that.  Plus, you are not as insistent as Josh was.  He wouldn’t let Daddy (or the people walking!) take no for an answer.  You are more willing to just keep on walking.

Alanis:  Like with the woman reading the meters a few weeks ago?

Jeter:  She WANTED to pet us, but we jumped all over her.  We are so sorry.   We didn’t mean to!  We just get so excited, especially since we have so much adrenaline running through us because of the walk!

Alanis:   Daddy hates loose dogs.

Jeter:   Yeah, if you want to make Daddy mad, just leave your dog unleashed in your front yard.    I hope he realizes that he isn’t always talking under his breath when he begins to curse….

Alanis:    Most of the dogs don’t come at us, but when they do…..

Jeter:  It isn’t pretty…..

Me:   The dogs are correct – I hate it with a PASSION when I see an unleashed dog in someone’s front yard.  Our two dogs are very sweet, but are also BONDED and will defend each other if they sense even a hint of danger.  And, to a dog, a dog coming straight at them from a yard is certainly a hint of danger.   We have had very few instances, and I do try to turn quickly before the other dog can recognize we are coming.

As for children and all of that, I let my dogs greet kids who I think are old enough to withstand a potential jump.   My dogs do not run and jump…they get close to you, and start to jump when you begin to pet them.   If the kid is too small, they can easily get knocked over.  I remember a year ago or so, there was a group of 20-somethings hanging out by a car.  One of the young women in the group shouted at me, asking if she could pet them.   Of course, I let her – but the moment she got them excited, they jumped all over her.   I assume she had to probably change her “night out on the town!” clothes after that.

As always, just keep your dog safe and keep the neighborhood safe.  You know your dog better than anyone, but recognize there are things kids do that your dog just might not like.   Our dogs have not been exposed to many young children, so I am naturally hesitant to let my dogs greet them.   If my dogs are their first experience with a dog, it could scar them for life if they get knocked down!   I wouldn’t want that.

Goldens are generally great with kids, though.  My dogs are no exception to that rule generally.    A bit of caution will keep everyone safe…..

Golden Retrievers Speak: First Beach Day of 2017!

Jeter:   We got on the beach for the first time in 2017 last weekend!   We went on Easter Sunday, when the crowd was a bit more sparse than what a typical Sunday crowd would be.   New Jersey doesn’t allow dogs on most of their beaches, but there is a stretch of beach on Island Beach State Park where we are allowed to go.  It is so much fun – we get to play in the sand, meet new dogs, etc.

Alanis:  It also represented the first time I ever went to a beach.  It was so relaxing, and so much fun.  I didn’t even bark when I saw so many people and other dogs.  I guess there is something about the beach that calms everybody down.    I even met a new friend – a tiny hound dog mix who came running up to me as I was sitting in the sand.

Jeter:   Many people let their dogs go off leash, even though the rules say you shouldn’t.  It isn’t a big deal, of course.   That little dog was cute…

Alanis:  So cute that you snapped at him!

Jeter:   Let me explain:   Mommy and I walked all the way down the beach, and came back to Alanis and this other dog playing and sniffing each other.  I wanted to get in on the action, but I am a little nervous when I meet a new dog 🙁   On top of that, Mommy and Daddy know that I am protective of other dogs in my pack, and I was likely trying to help Alanis, even though they were only playing and sniffing.  I have great intentions!

Alanis:  As proven by the other dog you met…

Jeter:  Correct!  There was a much taller version of me walking down by the water, and Mommy brought me to that dog…Alanis stayed behind.  When I was sniffing that dog, there wasn’t any snipping or barking.   That is likely due to a few reasons:   1)  My pack mate wasn’t with me, so I had no need to protect anyone; 2)  I was the APPROACHING dog, instead of the dog being approached.  I like it better when I get to make the call on whether I want to say hi to you.

Alanis:   Everyone knows you are a sweet dog, Jeter.    We all have our little quirks…

Jeter:  And it isn’t like I actually bit the other dog.  I was just a bit “snippy”.

Alanis:   I wasn’t fond of the water.  I was scared of the waves.

Jeter:   Josh was never a fan of the water, either.  He wasn’t scared of the wave, but he had no real interest in getting his body wet.   Me, however…

Alanis:  Jeter loves to run into the water, and even drinks some of the salty crap.  Ewwwww!

Jeter:   That is still better than running away from the big bad waves, you chicken shit.

Alanis:   All I know is that my family was very proud that I handled my beach experience very well.   From early impressions, they think I may be a “beach bum” type of dog that doesn’t really have a need to walk on the beach, but loves to lay down in the sand.

Jeter:   I loved the walk Mommy took me on.  I have never been a Golden that likes to lay in the sand.  When I was younger, I played a lot of ball with daddy while Josh walked the beach with Mommy.

Alanis:  Why doesn’t our schmuck Daddy let us off leash?

Jeter:  He is just a paranoid idiot.  He probably thinks a Great White will hop out of the ocean and take us.    I don’t care, though – being on or off a leash is meaningless to me.

Alanis:  Why were their people sitting in chairs with big poles next to them?

Jeter:   You can be so dumb sometimes, girl!  They are obviously trying to make it easier for dogs to see them so we can go greet them.  Duh.  Why else would they just sit there like that?

Alanis:  Makes sense now.    You are always so good at explaining things.

Jeter:   This wasn’t a long beach session, but it was still a fun beach session.  Hopefully there are more to come this summer!

Me:  We were pleasantly surprised by Alanis’ behavior.  She is our “diva dog”, and we were fearing the worst – a dog that would bark at everything, try to run after every dog she saw, and attempt to even steal their toys.  She was none of the above.  Was she hyper?  Of course.  But she seemed content with just hanging out.  She was excellent with the tiny dog that approached us, which wasn’t too surprising as she is a playful dog.  A bit rough, but playful.  Jeter has always been a bit more skeptical of other dogs – he needs to be a bit more comfortable before he allows them in his domain.  And, again, I think some of it is that he is protective of his pack.  Once he sees you pose no threat, he is comfortable.

As for beach tips, just be aware of your surroundings. A beach full of dogs can lead to all kinds of adventures, so make sure you assess the situation – look for the dogs that are loose.  Many of them have no intentions of approaching you, as they are off in their own worlds.  But if they do, just make sure both your dog and the loose dog are comfortable before you allow them to play and sniff.  Don’t assume the dog approaching you is friendly, and don’t assume your dog will act fine around the approaching dog.   If you play it right, nobody will get hurt.  We have never had a bad dog incident in our years going to the beach, and we have come across many dogs.

You will see that different dogs like to do different things on the beach – some like to chase things into the water.  Some like to play chase in the sand.  Some like to just lay down and chill out.   Some love to take a long stroll with their owners.    Just like you enjoy the peace of the beach, the dogs likely do as well.  It is an adventure for them filled with enough exercise to knock them out for an evening.

Golden Retrievers Speak: Beach Weather

Jeter:   I haven’t been to the beach in a long time.  Josh and I used to go to the beach often.  He would prance along on the beach with Mommy while Daddy would play ball with me.   Daddy has always been petrified of allowing us to actually go in the ocean water to swim or retrieve, so we would need to be on leashes.    Josh was a beach bum – much more than I was.  He had no trouble just finding a spot and laying down for as long as he wanted to.

Alanis:  I have yet to go to a beach..

Jeter:  I cannot imagine your insanity on the beach.    We once had a hound dog in this house, and the only time they took him to the beach, he barked at the waves.   I bet anything that is exactly what you would do, as well.   Plus, I cannot imagine you with other dogs and people on the beach.  What an adventure.

Alanis:  Yeah, yeah yeah.  Don’t assume how I would act, Jeter!

Jeter:  One time, Mommy went off to collect shells and left Josh and me with Daddy.  A person walked by with their dog, and Daddy told him that it was OK – that we would be calm as they walked by.     We stunned him when we both made a big lunge towards the dog, knocking Daddy over.  He lost his glasses in the sand.  It was so funny.

Alanis:  I wish I was there for that!

Jeter:  Another time, he got tangled with Josh in his leash as they were walking, and he fell right into the ocean.  With his cell phone in his pocket!   Bye, bye cell phone!

Alanis:  What a jackass.

Jeter:  Never a dull moment with that Einstein as a father.  Anyway, playing ball on the beach was amazing for me.  Daddy would find a quiet spot, and we would play for seemingly hours.    The walks were long, and the fun we had was incredible.   Especially Josh.  He was made to be a beach dog.

Alanis:  I understand there were birds that intrigued you on the beach…..

Jeter:  Oh, yes!  I was intrigued by sandpipers.  Those birds are so cool with how they walk around by the water, plotting their moves for their next meals.  Nature is so intriguing….

Me:   Josh indeed had a certain way about him on the beach.  He would walk for miles with Colleen, but was also just as content with laying in the sand without a care in the world.   I am naturally petrified of letting my dogs in the water, though I would sometimes walk Jeter into the water on his leash, because he loved getting wet.    In our area, there are beaches where dogs are allowed to go, as long as they are leashed (not everyone obeys that!), and most dogs will probably enjoy the occasional frolic.   Just remember that if you are unsure about another dog that approaches, don’t put either dog in a position where they are uncomfortable.  It is supposed to be a fun day, not a fight day!

As for bad things dogs can get into on the beach, there aren’t many.  Eating a little sand or swallowing a touch of sea water won’t kill them, but obviously, you want to limit that.  There is always a possibility they can cut themselves on a sharp piece of shell, etc.    

Golden Retrievers Speak: Going for a Walk

Josh:   When mommy and daddy first brought me home, I wasn’t very good at the walking thing.   I would keep my head to the ground for pretty much the entire walk, refusing to look up at the world around me.    I was interested in the occasional squirrel, but for the most part, if I put my head any lower, I would have bloodied my nose!

Jeter:  Daddy started me off slowly with walks – he would walk me around the block slowly, just to get me used to it.    He found out quickly that, just like with training class, I was a natural when it came to walking.    I would pull on my leash if I saw a squirrel or cat, but for the most part, I stuck by his side, refusing to get too far ahead.   My daddy would often stand back a bit to let me get ahead, and I would just stop and look back at him.

Alanis:  I was a bad walker at first.  A very bad walker.   I would often walk down the street and stop in my tracks.   There were certain streets I refused to walk down for reasons only I knew.    After 15 minutes or so, I was ready to go home.  For the first several weeks, he refused to cross over busy roads with me in fear that I would stop dead in my tracks, so we stuck very close to the neighborhood.   I would pull and tug at the sight of another animal, and I would bark uncontrollably if something bothered me.

Jeter:  I can attest to all of this, since Alanis is my walking partner!

Josh:   Suffice to say, due to my immobility, I don’t go on walks anymore.  There was a time when I would go with Jeter for the first walk of the day, and Jeter would go with Alanis on the second walk of the day.

Alanis:  Correct, Josh!   Jeter would get TWO walks while we would get ONE!  And they say there aren’t any favorites!

Me:   To be fair, Jeter is the most enthusiastic walker in the house and giving him a double walk always worked out well.  Nowadays, Jeter and Alanis just go for one long walk…..

Jeter:   Thanks, Daddy…..of course, during one of those Alanis/Jeter walks, we had what is famously referred to as the “Raccoon Incident”.

Alanis:  Funniest freaking thing ever!    Middle of the day, broad daylight, and Daddy walks right into the path of a rabid raccoon!   I understand he has a knack for some weird stuff happening to him – but this was really weird!

Jeter:  The jackass started running away from the critter, and feel squarely on his right shoulder, spraining it.  Thankfully for him, Alanis and I scared away the raccoon AND neighbors saw the incident (if only they got video!) and were able to come out and save Daddy (and us, who Daddy lost control of when he fell!)

Alanis:  This still makes me laugh – I know, it isn’t funny.  Yet, it is.   Daddy going to the emergency room over a raccoon!

Josh:  I wish I was there to see it.  Knowing me, I would have sniffed the raccoon and walked away.   Anyway, back to my original story, I eventually figured out “how” to walk.   For the next several years, I would hold my head up high when I walked, prancing along as if I didn’t have a care in the world.  My Daddy would always comment that if we didn’t live in a busy area, he could walk me without a leash.

Jeter:  I have essentially maintained my walking discipline, though I have figured out that if Daddy lets me go ahead of him, I should just keep prancing along – I have gained a lot of confidence.  And yes, even at seven, I still get very excited over squirrels and cats.   I am not fond of other dogs though.

Alanis:  Yeah, Jeter can get a little snippy if another dog enters his “space”.

Jeter:  I will warm up to a dog eventually, but people need to understand that it makes me nervous.  I know I am a cute, happy Golden walking down the street, but I have some insecurities, just like everyone else!

Alanis:  I am like Josh used to be – I want to socialize with everything, though I do it through barking, which tends to scare people more than anything else.  I am trying to be friendly!

Jeter:  Funny, isn’t it?   People are more afraid to approach Alanis with their dogs because she is barking, while they look at me as being more “dog-friendly” because I am quiet.     If only people would first talk to my owner before approach!

Me:  Indeed, Jeter.    Jeter is obviously a fantastic dog – but he gets nervous if strange dogs invade his space and will get a bit snippy.   If you have a dog like this, try to keep the dogs apart the best you can.   (Especially if the approaching dog is loose!).   KNOW YOUR DOG!  If you have an Alanis-like dog, explain to the other owner that the barking is more of a “Look! I’m here!” bark than a “Get away from me!” bark.   If you have a dog like Jeter, explain that your dog doesn’t like being approached and if you want them to meet, best to do it in a more controlled environment first, or to let Jeter do the approaching.   Also remember to watch the body language of the OTHER dog.  Sometimes, owners simply do not know their own dogs, and think they are friendlier than they actually are.    I have often turned my dogs in the other direction if I see another dog walking towards me.     I do that for safety reasons, mostly (I am walking two big dogs, after all!).  If a loose dog comes at us, I stay very calm and just try to keep the stray dog and Jeter apart, if possible.   As I said above, it all comes down to one big principle:   KNOW YOUR DOG.  

As an aside, the “raccoon incident” happened in August, 2015.  I still have lingering affects in my shoulder, but it is probably 99.9% healed.   If you get into this situation, you will have to use your best judgement – a raccoon in the middle of the afternoon is NEVER a good thing.   You also want to watch out for deer (especially if it is a mommy deer and you see her babies nearby), etc. Be alert of your surroundings and you should accomplish a healthy, fun walk for both yourself and your dogs.