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: Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Jeter:   Alanis, today is Mommy’s XXth birthday!     Be sure to give her many licks and hugs!

Alanis:   I love birthdays, even though I have no idea what they actually are.  Why do humans celebrate the day of their birth?

Jeter:  I don’t know.    I know when I was born, it wasn’t the best thing I ever experienced – popping out of the womb with so many other puppies, all blind, and all needing our mother just for survival.   We couldn’t do a thing on our own.

Alanis:  That is the part I don’t get.  For the most part, the day of birth doesn’t seem all that pleasant, right?    Babies come out of the womb as if it is the worst thing they have ever experienced…..

Jeter:  Well, it is, given it is the first thing they experienced.  But, whatever…

Alanis:   Shut up, wise ass.   Why is this day so much more important than yesterday?  Why don’t they celebrate the first time they could eat without drooling all over themselves?

Jeter:   Daddy still can’t celebrate that…

Alanis:   True, that.

Jeter:   I think we just have to recognize their weird customs and just go along with the gag – give them some extra attention on their birthdays for the sole purpose of them giving us some more treats.   That is the goal, right?  Brain wash them into thinking their birthday is so important to us, so we can get more treats.

Alanis:      But we must remember that this is our Mommy, and she loves us, so we should really wish her a Happy Birthday.

Jeter:     I agree with that – she deserves that from us since she is so good to us.  Do you have any idea how old she is?  I am looking into age-specific cards.

Alanis:  Given you are seven and I am three, Mommy can’t be older than ten.

Jeter:     Wow, that’s old – but your math makes plenty of sense to me.

Alanis:   Why isn’t she covered in gold hair like we are?

Jeter:   Ugh, must I explain this to you, Alanis?    Obviously, they lose their hair when they give birth to us.   It is probably a traumatic experience.

Alanis:   Thanks for explaining the birds and the bees to me.  Thankfully, I am spayed – I will never lose my hair.

Jeter:    Correct.  Let us please respect that this is Mommy’s first birthday since living here without Josh around.

Alanis:   Yes, that is indeed sad.  There are many milestones we will be passing that will be the “first without Josh”.  This is our first major hurdle.   What did Josh do for Mommy on her birthday?

Jeter:  I don’t know.  The same as us, I guess.  Not much we can do but be dogs, ya know?   Isn’t like we can hop on Amazon and buy her more scented candles.

Alanis:   Yeah, I guess we will just have to act like dogs…easy enough to do.

Jeter:   Well, I think she would appreciate it if you didn’t bark needlessly all afternoon on her birthday.

Alanis:  Asking for the impossible again, I see.

Jeter:     Any way, even though we both don’t understand what this day is or why it is meaningful, it is time to wish Mommy a HAPPY AND HEALTHY BIRTHDAY, filled with many tennis balls, treats, butt sniffing…..

Alanis:  That’s us, Jeter…

Jeter:  Oops.   See?  Josh was much better at this stuff.     It is time to wish Mommy a HAPPY AND HEALTHY BIRTHDAY!   We love you every much and appreciate everything you do for us.   We wish we can hand you a check for $1,000,000 (mostly because that can really be a boon for our treats stash), but our Golden smiles, wagging tails, licks, and cuddles will hopefully be more than enough.  We’ll let Daddy handle the other stuff.

Alanis:  That is scary.  Did you hear he got her a PAPER SHREDDER?    I have seen better romantic gifts given by Sheldon Cooper to Amy Farrah Fowler.

Jeter:  Yes, I heard.   I don’t even know what to say.   Maybe she should look into purchasing a Husband Shredder.

Alanis:   That being said, I also want to wish MOMMY a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!    We both appreciate how much you care for us!  I know I can be a pain in the ass with my quirky ways at times, but I love you.   There isn’t a better Dog Mommy on the planet – I am so happy I landed here when I was put up for adoption.

Jeter:   WAIT!  You were adopted?

Me:    The dogs get a bit confused around this time of the year.    It indeed is Colleen’s birthday today, and it does have a milestone attached to it.   Yes, her “big gift” this year was a paper shredder, but she got a lot of goodies out of the deal as well.  Sheesh!       Colleen has been through a lot over the past several years, but she enters this birthday feeling healthier than she has in years.  We hope it is the beginning of nothing but healthy birthdays forever.    The dogs and myself both appreciate EVERYTHING about her.  She has a heart of gold, has a sense of humor (look at what she married), and is definitely the one great thing about waking up on any given Monday morning.    Everything good that comes her way is deserved – she fought hard even on her toughest days to get to where she is today.  The dogs are much happier for that, obviously.   It is another blog post I can write at some point, but Jeter was always “in tune” with her health -to the point where it was amazing to watch him as he watched over her.   I could not have ever asked for a better wife or a better “Dog Mother”.     I am happy to be celebrating this special day with her, and am looking forward to the nicer days filled with so much sunshine.   Sunshine is appropriate, as my first ever nickname for her was “Sunshine Girl”.  I won’t reveal what her very first nickname for me was.   Happy Birthday, Colleen!  I wuf you! 

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: Tourney Time!

Jeter:   It is time for the NCAA Tournament!   I am all ready to run under the bed if Duke isn’t playing well.  Mommy is a big Duke fan.

Alanis:  I love college basketball!    But I wonder why they shoot the ball into that basket?  Whenever a ball is thrown to me, I do everything in my power to KEEP it.   Why give it away so willingly?

Jeter:   That is how they score points.  Any teams with dog names?  I hear 90% of colleges use the Bulldog as their mascot.

Alanis:  No retrievers?

Jeter:  Maryland-Baltimore County is known as the Retrievers!  Too bad they don’t play basketball very well.

Alanis:  Oh well.  I guess I will just pick the team with the cutest mascot.

Jeter:  That’s shallow!  I am going with the team that will cause me the least stress – Duke!

Alanis:   I don’t get stressed over much of anything.  I need to pick a different team than you.  I will go with Northern Kentucky!

Jeter:  Say what?

Alanis:  They have a 15 next to their name.  Kentucky only has a 2.  Seems like a safe bet to me!

Jeter:  Alright, then.

Alanis:   Northern Kentucky FTW!

Jeter:  I will just leave you to your silly fantasies.   Notice how neither of us picked Daddy’s team? (Michigan)

Alanis:  Well, they are the Wolverines…and we come from wolves…too bad we would never pick anything associated with Daddy.

Jeter:    Josh had a blue Duke collar – it is in the basket of collars Mommy keeps.

Alanis:   Josh had that collar forever!

Jeter:  He was a dedicated Duke fan – even had a Duke leash.   OK, I am out of here – we need to submit our picks into Daddy’s pool.  And no, we are NOT picking Northern Kentucky!

Me:   March Madness may just be my favorite time of the year – I even take the first two days of the tournament off from work.   The games are usually crazy, and nerve-wrecking.   As always, if you are having company or are going to have food out, just pay attention to your dogs to make sure nothing goes awry.  Enjoy the games!

Golden Retrievers Speak: Damn You, Trebek!

Jeter:   Yes, it happened again.   This time, however, I did not actually have a seizure.   Let me explain:  If you have read this blog before, you know I have a history of seizures – only two in my seven years on Earth, but even one gives you a history!  Both times, the seizure occurred during Final Jeopardy, when the famous music was playing.  After the second incident, my parents made an executive decision to always mute Final Jeopardy.  Even if it is just a coincidence, why take that chance?   I am a very sensitive dog, but I have never had a seizure after a power outage or when going to the vet.  Nothing has “triggered” one other than Final Jeopardy.     Last night, my mommy and daddy were talking to each other as she fast forwarded to Final Jeopardy.  She forgot to mute the TV.    As the song started playing, I let out what may only be described as a “doggie scream” from what seemed to be a deep sleep.   My parents say it is very hard to describe what the sound was, but they immediately paused the show and checked up on me.   It was almost as if I was shouting “Don’t play that song while I am sleeping!!!  EVER!”    It was scary to them – not really to me. I am not even sure I remember doing it.

Alanis:  It was scary.  I think, at first, that Daddy thought one of us may have been growling at the other.  The noise wasn’t a growl, but it was just so strange.  It startled me as well – I think they are relieved that it wasn’t an issue between us two (I love to sleep right next to Jeter – it would make me sad if he suddenly rejected that!)    In any case, I am a dog and I don’t even know what the heck that was, Jeter.   It was strange, but it got the point across.

Jeter:   Thankfully, Jeopardy is the last thing they watch at night.  Mommy got up to go upstairs, and Daddy broke up the situation by calling us into the kitchen for some cheese.  I had my happy face and wagging tail!  This morning, I was as fine as can be.  No problems – as if nothing happened.

Alanis:  I can vouch for that, as Jeter humped me a few times and went for a nice, long walk on what is promising to be the last nice day for a little while.

Me:   I don’t even know what to say.  There is something about the Final Jeopardy theme song that sends Jeter over the edge.   As a puppy, he was always “fascinated” by the Final Jeopardy song.  He would stop in his tracks and stare at the TV as it was going on, with his ears perked up.   At the time, it was cute and funny – was it actually him having some sort of “focal” seizure event that we just weren’t catching on to?  I don’t think so, but it isn’t impossible, I guess.   Whatever it is, that tune is BANNED from this household and Final Jeopardy has to stay on mute.      No other part of the show bothers him at all, so that is a good thing, since we love the show.       This just goes to show you how complex seizures and dog behavior in general can be.   Hard to really figure out WHY this happens to Jeter – but it does.   We just have to stay vigilant and keep him away from anything that could cause his brain to go a little haywire.


Golden Retrievers Speak: Hot Spots!

Jeter:  I am so thankful that I was blessed with such a nice coat and good skin.  Golden Retrievers are known for their “hot spots” (Josh would get at least one every year, if not more), but I have never had one (knock on wood).  I would try to lick Josh’s though, from time to time, and recently licked one that Alanis developed by her shoulder.

Alanis:   Yes, hot spots are uncomfortable – this is my first one, and hopefully my last one.  My family had treatments left over from when Josh would get them, so thankfully they have been treating it.  They are so uncomfortable.   My parents probably like the fact that this spot is in a place where it is very hard for me to lick at, but there are times I wish I could just go to town and rip my hair out, like Josh used to do!

Me:  Neither Jeter nor Alanis were here when Josh developed his nastiest hot spot (in my opinion).  Colleen and I went to a christening, and when we came home, Josh had pretty much ripped out a lot of his hair on one of his sides.  Suffice to say, he went straight to the vet and probably had to wear the “cone of shame”.

Jeter:  Don’t interupt us when we are talking, you fool.   I do like to lick wounds.  I find them very quickly on other dogs (and people!) and lick, lick, lick.  It is mostly an old dog’s tale that our tongues have some sort of miraculous healing powers, but what do I care?  I just like doing it.

Alanis:   There are many things that can cause hot spots – believe it or not, Josh’s hip condition may have been a reason why his hot spots would show up on his side (licking near the area of the hip pain).   He also had allergic reactions to food (mommy and daddy think it was white rice).    They are not dangerous or life-threatening, but they should be treated.  They are very uncomfortable for us, and since logic is not what dogs specialize in, we will continue to lick and bite at them.

Jeter:    That is exactly what Josh would do – and before you knew it, a little red spot on his skin would become this big wound that needed treatment.

Me:  Yep, and that treatment typically included the need to cut his hair around his wound, which I am sure caused even more discomfort.  We didn’t have to do that with Alanis’ first ever hot spot.   We don’t even know what caused the hot spot, and hopefully they don’t become a regular thing with her.  They can be a royal pain to deal with.   If your dog is prone to hot spots, you may want to do what humans are often told to do:  Keep a journal in an effort to figure out why the hot spots are occurring.  Are they due to a specific food?  Is there perhaps something in the environment?   Are they not getting enough exercise? (A bored dog will sometimes create the hot spots because they lick out of boredom).   It could be a lot of trial and error.    Josh’s problems with hot spots never went away, though they were controlled.   It is recommended you take your dog to the vet, especially if the hot spot has reached a point where the dog has exposed his skin.   


Golden Retrievers Speak: Food!

Jeter:   Gosh, when it came to food, no dog in history will ever have Josh beat – that dog was obsessed with food.  The funny thing about Josh was that he had this great ability to tune people out – especially Daddy – but once that cheese wrapper was opened, he suddenly became the most alert dog you will ever find.

Alanis:   In general, we are all food driven – but Josh was indeed one of a kind.   But you have to admit Jeter that you have become worse and worse as the years have gone by.

Jeter:  No argument here.  I used to be a bit more tame when it came to food – would wait to be called.  Wouldn’t take it without permission, etc.  Now?  As soon as Mommy and Daddy get up out of their chairs, I assume food is coming my way.

Alanis:    I am terrible when it comes to thinking that everything is food.  Jeter never gets into any mischief by eating random things on the floor.  Me?   I have tried to eat paper plates, cinnamon capsules, leaves when we go for walks – anything and everything that I think can fit into my stomach.

Jeter:   And we both eat the bird seed that Mommy throws on the deck.  I think it gave me some stomach upset one day – but, since logic isn’t a part of my life, I just ate it again anyway.

Alanis:     Yeah, the bird seed is really good!   We always regret eating it later, but we all can use an indulgence every now and again.

Jeter:    Notice how we have not yet talked about our kibble…

Alanis:  As Daddy likes to say, what people feed their pets is something that can create major debates.

Jeter:   Right now, we eat Rachael Ray.   We have gone through many foods in our lifetimes.     Just like a box of Macaroni and Cheese may not be the best thing for a human to put in their bodies, some kibble is not ideal for us to put inside of our bodies.

Alanis:   This is true – Daddy’s mantra has never really changed:  You should get your dog the highest quality kibble that you can reasonably afford.    Driving yourself crazy over this is just not worth it.  If a zealot wishes to criticize you, just tell them to go bark up their own tree.

Jeter:   Indeed.  Meanwhile, I am going to continue to eat whatever those darn humans wish to give to us.    As we all know now, life is precious – live it up a bit.

Me:    I never like to even entertain debates on dog food.  Look at any online message board on dogs, and you will find an ugly debate on dog food, and whether you should even feed your dog kibble.    Dogs have lived forever on kibble and Mighty Dog.    I agree completely that you should feel your dog the best food you possibly can, but the most important thing is that they are getting FED.  That’s it.

As for foods to avoid, I documented some of that here.     I have gone as far as not getting onions on any sandwich that I order because I know I am likely to give a piece of roast beef to the dogs.     Keep cabinets closed, and foods sealed.  If you are unsure whether your dog should have something, contact your vet or look around online.    

Golden Retrievers Speak: Guard Duty!

Jeter:   We are considered such a lovable breed that most would probably say that we do not make great guard dogs. While it is true that we will not intimidate most with the size of our bite, we have different ways of making sure you stay far away.

Alanis:  It starts with our bark!   We don’t really mean to startle our humans with our 3:30AM barking at the air, but when we do that, we sense something – it may be nothing more than a random noise we hear outside.  It could be people walking by that we think are simply too close for comfort.

Jeter:  Josh was the master of the late night bark – he would just run to the window and start barking.  He had that very deep, “big dog” bark.  I swear if people just heard the bark without seeing the dog, they would have thought Cujo may be on the other side of the door!

Alanis:   I bark often, and it can be a bit jarring.  I am a bit like Josh in that I will start barking instantly if I hear someone outside.  We live close to a convenience store, so people can walk by at all hours of the day.  I have started to become very aware of their presence.

Jeter:   When daddy isn’t home, my alertness goes up even more.   Mommy has commented many times about how aware I am of EVERYTHING when daddy isn’t home.   Of course, I am a better protector than that klutz would ever be, anyway.  He would probably fall down the stairs if he ran down them to check for an intruder.

Alanis:   Bahahahaha!    They need dogs, because that moron can’t even walk two steps without falling sometimes.

Jeter:   My bark is obnoxious, but I can’t sustain it.  I can let out a quick bark or two, but that is it.  Josh used to sustain it for several minutes, and Alanis has that ability as well.   Of course, given how jarring my bark is, it is probably a good thing I cannot sustain it for long.

Alanis:  Look, we will FREELY admit that if your goal is to find a guard dog that perhaps our breed is not perfect for that purpose.   We may use our bark to keep people away, but we are just big softies in the end.  That said, you can read online about many stories where humans were protected by their Golden Retrievers.  Remember this fact:  We are playful and fun, but are also fiercely loyal.

Jeter:  Yep!   I even warned a few family members at Christmas to not get too close to my Mommy.   Don’t tempt fate with us, because we can surprise you!

Me:   Golden Retrievers will never rank high on the list of dogs one would adopt for protection purposes.   However, they are loyal companion dogs and are not likely to easily allow strangers access to those who provide them their food.   Josh had a bark that would make any stranger run away.  Jeter is sweet, but also has a bit of a feisty side to him.   Alanis is the type of dog that will bark if she senses any kind of movement outside the house.     I certainly wouldn’t tempt fate as a stranger, while also recognizing that our dogs are more likely to wag their tails for a belly rub when push comes to shove. 

Golden Retrievers Speak: Welcome Home!

Jeter:  Well, this blog post will probably be short and sweet.  Josh “came home” on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day!).   I had to sniff the wooden box his ashes came in, because that is what I do.   Mommy put the box on a table, and draped it with Josh’s favorite toy.    Surprisingly enough, even though she COULD grab it if she wanted to, Alanis has stayed away from the toy.

Alanis:  The temptation is there, trust me!  But, for some reason, dogs that have entered this house have always known what is theirs and what isn’t when it comes to toys – Mommy has a big display of stuffed animals in multiple areas of the house, and we never touch them!

Jeter:  I heard a story about how mommy once bought a Halloween blanket, all rolled up.   She put it down on the couch, and Josh walked by and took it!

Alanis:  Now, that is something I might do!

Jeter:   It is still sad that Josh is no longer here – his “cone of shame” is actually in the exercise room, and I sniff it every time I go in there.

Alanis:  What I find amazing about you Jeter is that you NEVER touched the bowl that Josh drank out of.  Me?  I don’t care – I drink out of whatever bowl is available.  But you always stayed away from that bowl…..

Jeter:  Until this week, right?   All of a sudden, a bowl I indeed never drank out of has become probably my favorite bowl.  I think I am finally realizing that “physical” Josh isn’t coming back – I can still smell him on certain things, but I probably no longer feel his alpha presence.  He never yelled at me for drinking out of “his” bowl, but indeed, out of some sort of respect, I never did until this week.

Alanis:   We are such interesting creatures – those humans will never figure us out completely!  And thank goodness for that…..

Me:    There was a bit of “finality” when Josh’s ashes were delivered on Tuesday.  Finality in that everything has now gone full circle and he is back home with us forever.    His physical presence is missed – Colleen and I even talked today about how Josh always made his presence known.  When he entered a room, he didn’t just nudge the door open – he slammed through it.  When he wanted to come in from outside, he didn’t just sit by the door like Jeter does – he barked and jumped until we let him in.   He truly was a dog who had a presence about him – a confidence you just don’t see in many dogs.     Josh will always be a huge part of this blog, wherever it may lead.  But the new normal has certainly set in for all of us, including the dogs.

Golden Retrievers Speak: New Members of the Pack?


Jeter:    It has been over a week since Josh passed away, and this may be a good time to talk about adding new members to an existing pack.

Alanis:   Humans sometimes will try to fill the void of losing a pet by immediately going out and getting a new pet.   There are reasons why this may not be the smart move.

Jeter:   Correct.  Looking at it from our perspective, humans need to realize that not only did we just lose a pack member – we lost the dog we thought was leading our pack.   Our dynamics are in a bit of chaos (though, to be honest, Alanis and I are handling pack alignment just fine – we are just a bit out of whack).

Alanis:    Being out of whack is natural for a pair of dogs that lost the alpha.    The problem with bringing a new dog into our structure is simple:   Although we are both friendly towards other dogs (even with Jeter sometimes being a tad snippy….)

Jeter:  Oh, stop with that – I just need a few minutes to get used to a dog and I hate it when dogs invade my space initially.  THAT IS WHY I SNAPPED AT YOU, GIRL!   The moment we met, you decided it would be a good idea to get right in my face!   Made me nervous –  I didn’t know your intentions.

Alanis:    Yeah, I know – I can’t help it.  I try to make my presence known everywhere I am.    But this is why adding a new dog to a pack that just lost a dog can be a bit tricky.

Jeter:   Especially if you do it too soon.   We are still trying to process the loss of Josh.   Imagine if humans bring a new dog into our lives that has more of an alpha tendency?   We may not be happy with that.

Alanis:  And if you bring in a dog that is a bit more submissive, we may not take kindly to that either – we may gang up on the poor dog.   This has nothing to really do with our temperament.      We are animals that need structure.  If that structure is thrown into any kind of chaos when we aren’t ready, it can lead us to being confused as we mourn the loss of our friend.

Jeter:    We understand that humans love us very much and want to help another dog, potentially.   Be patient with it – let us get through this trying time for everybody.   Eventually, we will get back on track and more accepting of a new member in our pack.

Me:   My wife and I have not even discussed a new dog yet.    This is not likely in our near future.      It may be a little easier to bring in a new dog if you are a one-dog household, but even then, you have to make sure you are emotionally ready to do so.  Some “experts” suggest not getting a dog that looks like the dog you lost.  I am not sure I agree with that, but everyone is different.   As we know with our Goldens, they are all unique in their own ways (in terms of look and personality) – getting another Golden wouldn’t lead us to compare the new dog to Josh.    We wouldn’t try to fit him into the Josh mold.    Regardless, this is always a decision to take very seriously, and you should indeed think about the other dogs in your household before you take the plunge.   They are missing their pack mate, and if they aren’t ready for a new member, it can lead to some resentment.    As is the case with most things when it comes to dogs, you will know when the time is right.  

Here is a good article on the entire process of grief, and how dogs may handle it.