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.