At this hour, when I have yet to settle in for my prolonged daytime nap I used to know as a night’s sleep, Angelo is crooning in his singing whine from his crate. Clearly, he craves the out of doors on this freezing morning. Coming, Angelo. Just five more minutes to drag out of bed.
I thought I would briefly blog about what it’s like for a pair of older people to incorporate a high test English Golden Retriever, a spectacular polar bear of a show dog, into daily life.
It’s wonderful but also really, really hard. For four months, in which he has been growing and becoming more beautiful by the day, he has pulled and veered and galloped through the house and had to be picked up by the scruff and loaded into his crate. Don’t worry; that’s for time outs only–he’s generally either outside or up on the bed for a rub-down.
We would love to have him loose with my bitch Munch, meandering around the house–but at 7 months, he’s not there yet. It’s not that he eats jelly beans; it’s that he has a pedigree packed with ebullient champions all bred to be revved at all times. His breeder said to me that if we trained him for obedience he would never be a show dog, which I regard as bullshit; everyone’s dog should have basic manners.
It is also wonderful to have him. We love him. He is so polar-bear cream, his coat luxurious, his pigment black; he is so very plush and posh and looking back, I cannot believe the many hurdles we took, with uncustomary alacrity, to get him h ere.
The one thing our breeders didn’t bother about was a reference. At the time that I saw his litter announcement, they had had several people fall off their list. When I saw that his dam was bred by Lislone-Garbank, one of Ireland’s greatest contributors to breed type, and that his sire was Multi Ch Ashbury Angel Heart, I couldn’t live without him.
They trusted us by virtue of our fervor, unlike the young woman I’ve been speaking with the last few days with a lovely puppy bitch for sale at a reasonable price. She wants me to call an English Cream breeder in the US for a reference that she knows of, that I know not at all. I will not deal with people who call themselves English Cream breeders because American consumers are obsessed with light light snowy light Goldens so that it has become about money. Moreover, there is technically no such thing as an “English Cream”– some well-heeled American petty capitalist coined this term and it has stuck like poo to a boot. Too bad, but the deal’s off. Other sources trust me, just by taking a look at this site and the fact that we have Angelo in the first place.
One fancier in the UK Kennel Club, who has chastised me for calling dogs from the UK English Goldens with everyone else who has such a dog, did give us a few tips. Use a rope-style lead with the collar incorporated, she said. Until my husband gets used to this new leash, called a Mendota slip lead, we have turned another leash into a slip lead that gives us more control; when he pulls, we can quickly pull his head to the side, whereupon we say, “sit.” We didn’t realize we had been teaching him to pull us– he would pull, we would haul back, he would pull and we would have to let go and he got his freedom.
Dogs work off a reward system. They do nothing that doesn’t reward them and so, to get what he wants i.e. the reward of going outside or for a walk, he will have to respect the leash and heal at side first.
We hope to hold up for some time until things turn a corner. But it’s winter, and there are many sorrows in the world at this time. Passers-by– please understand the value of candor. We love our beautiful Angelo. It’s just that he’s a pain in the ass.