We have two golden retrievers but I like to call them golden achievers. There’s a lot to tell about them but I know you will only read so much so I’ll give you the condensed version. I got Sidney as a surprise for my son, Christmas of 2007. He was as red as an Irish Setter, with a Mohawk down his nose which the breeder assured me meant he was smarter than the rest. I’m pretty sure she took me for a fool but as it turns out he’s pretty darn clever. He was the runt of his litter and the last one picked. They surely saw me coming. The breeder informed me he was quite a find, as he is supposedly the brother to Duke the Bush Baked Bean dog (same parents, different litter). I have never been able to confirm this because every time I ask Sid he says, “I’m not telling.”
Trooper came along 2 years later when we felt Sid needed a companion. He is Sidney’s biological nephew. My son Jamie picked him out when he was two weeks old, fat and ugly. That’ll never happen again. Jamie can pick paint colors pretty good, but he sucks at picking out dogs. Trooper is a true golden in color, and dumb as a brick. I distinctly remember asking Jamie, “Are you sure?” He insisted he was the one. He was smitten with his one pink paw pad. I’m not sure if that should be the puppy picking criteria but it was that day.
Over the years we have been taught many lessons by Sid and Trooper that we still don’t seem to be able to grasp. I’m pretty sure they are laughing at us every day and discussing how stupid we are. Trouble started from day one. We lived in an apartment when we got Sid and I didn’t want him to ruin the place when I went to work so I barricaded him in the bathroom with the door open so he could see out. He met me at the front door that afternoon as I came home from work. The simple door barricade turned into Fort Knox over the next few weeks and he did all but unlock the door for me when I came home each evening. Several months later, after plants were upturned, dirt smeared in the carpet, a six pack of Hardees strawberry biscuits smeared in a circle the size of Texas, and chewed door frames we move out quietly and didn’t bother asking for our deposit back.
Sid is an active guy with a variety of interests. He mostly loves cooking and playing tennis. I often find his dishes and utensils laying around the house from whatever he was in the kitchen conjuring up while I was away. He is pretty independent and doesn’t need much help. He opens the kitchen cupboards, the oven, remembers which cabinets keep the good food, gets his own dishes out of the sink, etc. I’m pretty sure he’s holding cooking classes by day. I had to lock the trash can in the closet because I found a salad upstairs once spread from one end of the foyer to the other. Apparently he isn’t fond of greens. Taste testing is his specialty. Don’t turn your back or you will go hungry. He really loved the sixty or so gingerbread boys I made for Christmas one year. His intestines weren’t so happy and neither was I when I awoke to arms, legs and torsos scattered everywhere, amongst other brown dots that weren’t cookie parts. I’ll spare you the pictures of it. His stomach was a little more prepared for the bag of Hersey kisses he got his paws on. It may have been all those aluminum wrappers that helped it digest better.
Sometimes when he cooks he has accidents. He had a hard time learning how to use the crock pot and felt really bad about the crime scene I came home to one day. After not finding a dead body in the house, it became apparent Sid had had some difficulties which resulted in a lot of broken glass and blood. Thank God the SWAT team hadn’t been called yet. Not to worry, everyone was in one piece.
It appears he likes to listen to music and has pretty good taste. Jamie thought he lost his ipod however it wasn’t lost at all. Sid woke Jamie up one morning with it glowing in his mouth, blasting Bon Jovi. He really is living on a prayer.
Like most Goldens he loves his tennis balls. Sometimes he tries to hide them from us. He will go to great lengths to bury them under a telephone cord or push imaginary dirt around in the air with his nose until he thinks it’s sufficiently hidden. I have at times found them in the couch cushions, under beds, and there are probably ten in the car right now. He can sniff one out a mile away. Here he is after thinking we hid one from him on the bookshelf. He didn’t find it and didn’t bother to help organize the books back either. If you can see the look of shame on his face, you’re imagining it. I believe he felt we should have used sturdier bookshelves.
A lot of people think dogs belong outside, in the back yard. I have a fenced in back yard. The problem is that if I leave them out there too long, Sidney will find a way out and come around front and knock on the door. It’s kind of shaming to have your dog knock on your front door to come in.
Sid loves to hunt. I remember the time he found the wild, snaggle-toothed, vicious, possibly rabid tiger (chipmunk) in the backyard. He chased him down with a true hunter’s fury, never willing to give up the prize. Tracking him through the strawberries and irises. Never letting up. Surely trying to save his family from being savagely slaughtered. For weeks Sid tracked that tiger, going straight to the last place he saw him. Stealthily creeping up to where he believed him to be in hiding and staring like a statue patiently waiting for the tiger to reappear. I have seen that tiger since – sitting on the edge of the garden eating a raspberry and looking up at the kitchen window in smug satisfaction. We’ve had similar such hunts with lizards, spiders, and snakes. It’s good to feel safe.
Now, Trooper is another story. While I picked out Sidney, he’s Jamie’s boy. Jamie picked out Trooper and he’s mommy’s boy, one hundred percent. He lives for me…..and other things – mostly sleeping and going to the doctor. Here he is the day we got him and Sid was wishing he’d disappear. The first night, the plan was that he would sleep with Jamie. I tucked them in bed and about 30 seconds later, Jamie came to me and said he couldn’t sleep with Trooper so I moved Troop to my bed and he’s never left. If I had a husband he’d sleep on the floor because Trooper, all 80 lbs of him, takes up half the bed. He sleeps right beside me with his head on the pillow and is usually snoring before I get in bed. I think he needs my cpap but I’m not sharing. I hold his paw while he sleeps. Pathetic, I know. The picture on the right is him waking up.
You wouldn’t think with Trooper being not so bright, that he’d be the literary type. However, he was quite enthralled with Jamie’s English class novel The Crucible. In fact, he ate the entire thing. I don’t know why high schools have students read books like that if they want them to enjoy reading but I guess Trooper is on a higher literacy level and really enjoyed it. We found it later in the back yard. Jamie refused to put it back together and had to tell his teacher his dog ate his book. His teacher thought that was a load of crap (pun intended).
Trooper was an expensive dog from day one. Before he was a year old he had torn a ligament in his leg and had to have surgery. This was followed with visit after visit to the vet for follow ups and new casts since his wouldn’t stay in place. It didn’t help that he had to sleep on my bed and walking around on the mattress didn’t help his cast stay in place. I know, you’re wondering why I didn’t make him sleep on the floor. I tried that. I have hardwood floors. After a week of hearing tap, tap, tapping on the floor in circles around my bed all night long, I gave in and back on the bed he came. Wouldn’t you know, every single time he had to go for a leg check up or a new cast it was raining. The cast had to stay dry so we went through the ordeal of him jumping around knowing he was going bye-bye, and trying to hold him still while we wrapped a Bi-Lo grocery bag on his leg for the long trip to the specialist vet. We had to suffer through the same experience every time he had to go potty in the rain. I don’t know why we bothered because he always came back in the house with no Bi-Lo bag attached. Here are some of his casts. At least he was styling.
Here’s a picture of Trooper with his best friend Jacob. Yes, Jacob is a flashlight. Don’t ask.
Did I mention Trooper likes to eat? He has some strange eating habits though. He doesn’t really chew things, he just cuts to the chase and swallows everything whole. I noticed we couldn’t find any pot holders around the house. Coincidentally, Trooper had been sick for a while. After a few weeks, it all came together, or maybe I should say came apart. Trooper wasn’t getting better, so back to the vet for tests and x-rays. It appeared there was a foreign object in Trooper’s stomach/intestines and he needed surgery to remove it. He was a very sick boy. I got a call at work when the surgery was over. I was informed they had removed an object that had tangled itself around his intestines however they weren’t quite sure what the object was. The girls at the vet’s office were taking bets on it. One girl was sure it was a pair of pants. A pair of pants ?!? When they told me the color of the object I knew it was a pot holder. I guess it had been in there so long it no longer had it’s shape (but a pair of pants?!?). So, pot holder mystery solved. No telling how many more he had eaten and passed on his own. I guess when something smells like chicken there’s no time to chew and you need to get it down fast before you lose it to someone else. He was in the hospital for 2 weeks, lost a lot of weight, and was circling the drain. Our amazing vet, even spent one touch-and-go night with him at the office.
So Trooper, being special as he is, doesn’t really learn from his mistakes, much like us. He then swallowed another pot holder soon after. I informed him his medical fund was exhausted and unless he could get a job or make it in Hollywood he’d have to figure out his own way to get this one out. Now before you animal lovers start getting onto me for being a bad mom, I really did try to dog proof my house but they are admittedly smarter than me. He did finally manage to poop it out after days of straining and pitiful looks in my direction for help. During our time with Trooper I have found many unusual things in the back yard, dish washing sponges mostly (blue dots everywhere, you can’t miss them). He also likes to eat my bills. Pretty much anything paper or wood. Window sills don’t make it long in my house, nor do bed posts, kitchen utensil handles, wooden spoons, Christmas tree ornaments, or expensive college text books. I’m not sure the message he’s trying to give me with my bills. He will get in my purse when I’m blow drying my hair (the sign that I’m about to leave him) and pull only my bills out, that are clipped tightly together, get them off the clip and eat them. Not chew on them, mind you, eat them. Whole. No remains in sight.
We are pretty sure Trooper is transgender. He acts like a girl, looks great in pink, and has never learned to lift his leg. After 7 years, I don’t think that’s going to happen. We keep him out of North Carolina because we don’t know what bathroom he should use. He needs a lot of comforting. He often has bad pork chop dreams (being chased by a mean pork chop). My two boys have such very different personalities but they are both so loving and loyal and entertaining. I try to be a good mom. I’m convinced babies are easier than dogs though. I’m aware that I’m a dog mommy loser. They however are thriving and loving life.
This is the scene each morning when I get out of the shower.
It’s always important to get enough sleep. Sidney is on the left and Trooper on the right.
Sidney is now 9 years old and not as active as he once was. He’s sugar faced and missing his two front teeth. That’s all he wanted for Christmas but I guess Santa didn’t think he’d been good enough. It hasn’t affected him greatly as he can still catch a tennis ball from a football field away. Trooper has seizures, so the medical bills continue. I know, typical mom, making threats I’m not willing to keep. He never has gotten a job but I continue to pay the medical bills.