Thank you for having me on your site and for suggesting this wonderful topic! I would love to tell you about my pets, most of whom were and are dogs, although I also had two great Maine Coon cats. And most of my dogs have been Golden Retrievers. I have a thing for Goldens – I just adore them. Although actually I adore all dogs, every single one. Dogs are my passion. Since infancy, I’m told.
Here are the dogs I’ve had and have:
My first dog was Simon, a Cairn Terrier mix. He had such an unusual personality – very bright, but quite standoffish and independent. Picked and chose who he would be friendly with, and there weren’t many people who were honored with his attention. As an example of how bright he was, when I was a flight attendant and had to be away for two to three days at a time, he was able to stay in our (his and my) apartment, pace himself with his food, use only a certain area to go to the bathroom, and never bark. Brilliant! He’d been a Christmas present, and I did not want to give him up. So he and I just figured it out. He would hold a little grudge when I would return from a trip, but he’d soon get over it. Unusual guy.
My first Golden was Mandy, a reddish blond with an exuberant personality, who never sat still, loved and was friendly with everyone, was brilliant, housebroken in a minute, and loved to chase squirrels.
Then there was Arthur, our Afghan. Goofy and elegant, that’s the only way to describe him. Arthur was gorgeous – cream-and-black fur, soul-searching eyes. He primped regularly on “his” sofa, was independent beyond words, and never became totally housebroken. I do think that this unbreakable behavior was his attempt to make sure that everyone knew it was his house. Smart as a whip, as long as the situation involved him. And absolutely adored Mandy.
Next came Charlie, my second Golden and the star of my book, Charlie: A Love Story. Nirvana right from the beginning. I think he had me laughing starting when he was a puppy. He was just a funny being. Ever so earnest, and big. I think at thirteen weeks he weighed something like forty pounds, and for most of his life he was at least one hundred pounds. A big, gentle soul, a big, generous spirit, and connected with me right from the beginning. Though he loved playing with Mandy. She taught him how to dig.
And then from the streets of Los Angeles came Sabrina. A beautiful Sheltie that my husband David rescued. Without a qualm, she marched into our house with our three big dogs and figured out how to get along, was never intimidated, was in fact truly fearless, and had more chutzpa than any being I’ve known.
Barney, another Golden that I rescued (I found him crossing four lanes of traffic on Pacific Coast Highway!), knew exactly what to do when he came to our house. I didn’t want another dog when I found him. As a matter of fact, I looked for a home for him for about a week. But the longer Barney was with us, the more I wanted to keep him. After being with him for that week and looking diligently for a home for him, there was none that was good enough, and so he stayed. He was so smart and so socially appropriate, and he took the concept of friendly to a new height. Everyone – dogs, cats, children, in fact almost every child in the nearby elementary school looked forward to seeing him – everyone adored Barney. He made friends with a local policeman, who, to this day, still looks out for our house and who has become a wonderful friend of our family. We call him “Barney’s cop.”
Our fourth Golden Retriever, who lives with us now, is Harry. Harry is a very handsome, classic-looking Golden, though he’s a little smaller than most, which is just fine with me. I call him “Happy Harry” – he’s the happiest dog I’ve ever known. Except that, from when I got him at nine weeks until he was about four years old, he was a maniac. I actually thought he was a sociopath. He didn’t listen – inside the house or out – and didn’t care to, just followed his nose, the best sense of smell I’ve ever known. Now, fortunately, Harry listens quite well around the house. But outside there’s still a little issue, though he’s a lot better than he was. I’m sure that will straighten out eventually. Or not! I’ll love him no matter what.
Like most Goldens, Harry loves to play, and what he loves the most is to play ball. His favorite game is when he drops the ball for me to throw and then runs away from it around some plants and trees, so I can’t see him and he can’t see where the ball goes. I throw the ball, he hears it land, and only then comes running from wherever he is. He looks diligently for it, tail wagging the whole time he’s looking, almost always finding it, and then comes running back to me to start the whole routine over again. It’s the cutest thing the way he runs away, doesn’t see where I throw it, and then has the best time searching. His enthusiasm is contagious. I find that after this particular ball game I seem to be as happy as he is. And I almost forgot to tell you: as near as I can tell, according to Harry, this game could go on forever, and that might not be long enough!
The instincts involved in this particular ball game, which Harry invented, may be similar to those for which his breed was developed: searching for a game bird after it’s been shot, then after finding it carrying it carefully back to the hunter in that soft Retriever mouth. The eagerness I see in Harry as he comes bounding back to me during this game is so much greater than in the other games we play, and I think that’s because of how much he loves the search.
There’s a lot of deliberation going on in our house right now about getting another dog. It looks like we’re getting closer. Yes, another dog would be wonderful, not just for me but mostly for Harry. I believe most dogs love to be with other dogs, need the company of their own kind. It seems like fairly soon Harry will have a friend. Here’s hoping.
If I could, I’d have ten dogs, or more. I love them all so much – their pure energy, their loyalty, their unconditional love, their joyous natures, and everything else about them. I’ll always have at least one dog by my side.