In Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 at 11:43 pm
Our Beautiful English Creme Golden "Tessa"
Well, the game of fetch has certainly changed here at Nicholberry Farms! Somehow, that little puppy who used to sit on the sidelines and merely watch Darby as she ferociously chased any thrown object, that little sideline puppy has become “The Fetcher.”
I don’t even know when it happened. There has always been a fetching hierarchy and unless I separated my English Cream Golden Retrievers, Darby was the only one who would fetch in a group. I would throw the ball, and neither Tessa nor Moses would move. Only Darby. Then one day, I threw the ball and Tessa bolted from my side like a launched missile. Meanwhile, my formerly neurotic fetcher (Darby) got the message and stood dead still. In their own doggy way, they changed the rules.
Fall has finally arrived here in the California Central Valley (was it just me, or did you hear the chorus of “Hallelujah” too?). That means plenty of cool weather to play fetch and hang out in the appropriately warm sunshine. The newest morning game is “Sandstorm Fetch.” Be warned. This is not a game for those who disdain dust! I throw the tennis ball with all my strength, and Tessa kicks up a shocking amount of pasture dust as she chases the ball. Darby sits at my side, leaning against my leg, and Moses stands somewhere in the middle. They all have their role to play, and I must confess, I love being a part of their pack. It is SO much fun and such a great way to start the day! Golden Retrievers … they are the best.
In Uncategorized on July 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm
6 Month Old English Creme Tessa
I was reminded again this morning why I fell in love with English Cream Golden Retrievers. At 0 Dark Hundred (a phrase I must credit to a dear friend of mine), my 5 year old son tiptoed into my room and wanted to know if we could go feed the horses. How can a mommy resist a question like that? We quietly crept down the dark hall together and got Tessa before heading to the pasture.
I’m almost certain that Tessa gave me a complicit smile when she saw me coming – her eyes lit up and everything in her face said, “Oh! This looks like fun!” She is a quiet dog and rarely barks, so the only sound she made was the “swoosh” that came from her wildly wagging tail.
The three of us headed to the pasture and I marveled at what a beautiful dog Tessa has become. She has a lovely blocky head, perfectly punctuated with dark chocolate eyes. Not even one yet, she already possesses a wide chest and powerful legs. Her coat has remained creamy white and soft, despite the layers of dirt from the dry pastures of Nicholberry Farms (she gets a weekly bath, but I can’t possibly deprive this girl the sheer joy of running freely through our property!).
Best of all, Tess is a mellow girl. My 9 month old golden retriever puppy ran up to my little boy and greeted him nicely – no jumping, no nipping, no naughty behavior. She just said “Good Morning Little One!” in her relaxed, English Cream way. Oh, how I love my English Cream Goldens!
9 Month Old English Cream Golden "Tessa" Getting a Bath
In Uncategorized on July 5, 2009 at 4:14 am
A Boy and His Puppy
It’s raining. It’s muddy. It’s cold. It’s the ideal day for a Golden Retriever! It never ceases to amaze me how much Golden Retrievers like to play on a day like this. Perhaps it’s their inner water dog discovering just how much fun “wet” is. Perhaps it’s the feel of the sticky, slick earth gushing between their paws. Or perhaps it’s the opportunity to shake off any last trace of domestication and to just be a dog.
In many ways, these puppies remind me of my little boys – the dirtier the play, the better! Their creamy white coats are caked in dirt, they smell like muck, and they couldn’t be happier. In fact, just a short while ago, my six year old was on his hands and knees, gleefully digging holes in the pasture. Next to him splayed two equally gleeful puppies, digging with all their might. How does the saying go about little boys being made of puppy dog tails? “What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails!” I’m beginning to see the connection!
Unlike my English Cream Golden Retrievers and my two young sons, I am tucked inside my warm house, thanking God for such a spectacular display. My boys aren’t worrying about getting their nails dirty and my dogs aren’t worried about how they’ll smell. They are simply in the “now.” Oh, how I envy them all!
Soon enough, we’ll have a trail of paw and boot prints tracked through the house and I might not be as grateful when I find myself on my own hands and knees, cleaning it all up. But for the moment, for the now, I again find myself silently thankful for the animals and children who bring so much joy to our lives.
In Uncategorized on July 5, 2009 at 4:12 am
English Creme Puppy Moses
Recently I was in a boutique pet store and saw a woman with a darling silky terrier puppy. In comparison to our English Cream Golden Retreivers, this puppy looked like a newborn! I asked the proud owner how old she was and she said 10 weeks. A big red warning light went off in my head: PARVO ALERT! But this was a conundrum. Though the owner was friendly, I worried that she might be offended were I to broach the subject of her puppy’s safety. I walked around, mulling this over while searching for the perfect Kong (if you don’t have one of these yet for your puppy, get one! They are virtually indestructible and provide much entertainment for growing puppies!). Finally, I decided that the puppy’s safety outweighed anything else, so I went back over to the owner and gently asked her whether she knew about the risks of Parvo. Perplexed, she looked at me and said she had heard of it, but it was clear that she didn’t know how to protect her puppy. Yikes! What kind of breeder sells a puppy (and a small breed at that!) and doesn’t educate the owner about the risks of Parvo? I explained to the owner that until the puppy has her last set of vaccinations, she is at risk for contracting the highly contagious virus and that it is often fatal and INCREDIBLY costly to try to save the pup. Much to my amazement, the store owner had been listening and confessed that she hadn’t realized that puppies needed all 4 vaccinations in order to be protected. Wow! From here on out, every owner that enters that boutique with a young puppy will be educated – confirmation enough for me that it was the right thing to speak up!
So here’s the skinny on protecting your puppy from Parvo: First, don’t take your puppy to a public place! It’s just not worth the risk. The virus can be transferred on hands, clothing, and especially shoes. At home, we are careful to wipe the bottom of all shoes with diluted bleach and also to take the puppies to a “puppy safe” area of the yard (certainly not the front yard, where stray dogs may have roamed). Remember that the virus can live for a very long time – it survives heat and cold. The only thing that kills it is BLEACH. Aside from being spread by shoes, it is also carried in a canine’s fluids (drool, blood, feces, urine). We live on 3 acres and over the years, various foxes have made their home in and around our barn. As a result, the barn is not a safe area for young puppies!
The other thing is, VACCINATE your puppy! She needs her Parvo shot every three weeks after the first shot, so calendar it! And when you take your young pup to the vet, carry her in and verify with the office staff that the examining table has been properly cleaned. I know, I know – this sounds totally over the top. But I know how hectic office life can become and all it takes is one forgetful person … your puppy’s health is on the line, so though it may be uncomfortable, ask!
There is no doubt that it is difficult to isolate a vigorous puppy for so many weeks of its young life. They want to run and play and that’s hard to do when their “safe” space is so restricted! But hang in there – it’s worth it in the long run. You’ll have many years to enjoy the company of your canine everywhere you go, so give her the protection she needs now. You’ll be glad you did!
In Uncategorized on July 5, 2009 at 4:09 am
English Creme Golden Retriever "Darby"
This afternoon I took Darby on her first “field trip” to my son’s school in Fresno. She is such a mellow puppy that I was curious to see how she would do with all of the little people who would want to pet her. She is at a particularly cute stage right now – she is getting her “big girl” hair down her spine, which is slightly wavy and tinted with a light sand color. This is an absolutely gorgeous dog and I can hardly wait to see how she’ll look fully grown! Her head is nice and boxy, her hair is mostly white (cream) and the slight sand color to her ears is simply darling. Her coal black eyes are extremely expressive and kind. She is all you could want in an English Cream Golden Retriever.
I loaded Darby into her travel crate and off we went! (The travel crate is a collapsible crate that is very convenient. Our crate is similar to the one at http://www.remmeer.com/soft-collapsible-dog-crates-p-1185.html). When we arrived at the school, Darby eagerly walked onto the campus, vigorously wagging her tail. One thing about this little golden is that she is wonderful on a leash. No pulling or resisting. Once again, can I say what a difference there is between the temperament of the English Cream Golden Retrievers and American Golden Retrievers? This is not condemnation of the American Golden Retrievers! They are wonderful and brought many years of joy to my life, but American Golden Retrievers are a more high-strung dog than English Cream Golden Retrievers. (I would say the same thing of Labrador Retrievers). Even people at the school marveled at how mellow Darby is. No jumping, no barking, no tugging. While some of this has to do with training, much has to do with breeding and temperament.
We arrived before school was released, which gave Darby some time to get familiar with the campus before the kids came streaming out of their classes. Zander (my five year old) walked her around, doing an excellent job of leading his little puppy. (What a wonderful site – there is something very Norman Rockwell about a little boy and a golden retriever!). Then the bell rang and out they came – bodies flying, backpacks swinging, voices shouting! But my little golden took it all in stride, enjoying the new sights and smells and especially loving the many little hands touching her. In a sea of children, I could spot my little white puppy, tail wagging her body around the school yard. Yet again, I reminded myself, this is one of the many reasons why I love golden retrievers! They are so wonderful around children and possess such a sanguine personality.
All in all, our little field trip was a big success. Darby discovered that riding in the car can mean BIG FUN, she was exposed to lots of new noises and smells, and she was given truckloads of affection. I can’t wait to do it again today!
In Uncategorized on July 5, 2009 at 4:04 am
Tessa, Moses, and Darby
The Golden Retriever is a hardy, no-nonsense breed who will go through life with relatively few health problems (providing that you buy from a quality breeder!). While I am biased, it is safe to say that once you have lived with a golden retriever, you will never want to live without one! They are hard-working, loving dogs with consistent temperaments and an endless desire to please.
Historically, Retrievers were not seen until the late 19th century. There were no standardized breeds and they were mated for their working ability, not for their looks. Truly, Golden Retrievers owe their development to the change in the sport of Shooting. In the 1800’s, estate owners hunted with their Setters and Pointers, using muzzle-loaded guns to shoot sitting birds. The shotgun changed everything. Estate owners made great sport of shooting flying birds and shooting became linked with status, wealth and fashion. By the late 1800’s, sportsmen needed a specialized retrieving dog. Thus, the birth of the Golden Retriever breed.
The man whose early breeding created the Golden Retriever was the first Lord Tweedmouth. He moved in the highest echelons of Victorian society and built a sporting Mecca for the Victorian aristocrats. The quality of gundogs on the estate was as important as the estate itself, and Lord Tweedmouth took his “hobby” breeding very seriously. He also kept detailed records, which allows us to know with certainty the development of the Golden Retriever breed.
In the 1860’s, Lord Tweedmouth purchased a yellow-colored retriever from a cobbler. His name was Nous (Gaelic for Wisdom). In 1868, Nous was bred to a Water Spaniel named Belle. They produced a litter of three yellow puppies: Crocus, Cowslip and Primrose. This litter formed the foundation of Goldens as a distinct breed.
From that first litter, breeding was planned very carefully. In 1904, a Lord Harcourt bought two puppies from this line and began his own breeding program. Ultimately, the Golden Retriever was founded on Lord Tweedmouth’s line via the Culham Kennel of Lord Harcourt. In fact, Culham Copper, owned by Lord Harcourt, appears in the extended pedigree of virtually every Golden Retriever in the world.