Tag Archives: golden retriever

Great “Dog” “Toys”

I happened across this article, which reviews supposedly indestructible dog toys.  They reviewed five, and the cheapest of the lot was $10.49 (and, that one got torn apart by the test dog). 

Bailey, the great dog. Note how she's supervising the snack in my son's hand, ensuring no invading gnomes will snatch it from him. She also gets just as annoyed as I do that my slipcover won't stay in its proper place.

Well, I have a dog.  A great dog.  A golden retriever, who is 80 pounds of love and energy and fun and goofiness and cunning and man does she love her toys.  We have been through many, many, many toys in our day.  And we have found that she can tear the hell out of nearly any toy labelled “indestructible” – the notable exception being just about anything with the Kong name on it…. except she doesn’t like to play with them unless we put treats in them.

However, in our eight years of dog ownership, we’ve made a discovery or two.  A couple of her best, favorite toys aren’t really for dogs… and maybe wouldn’t even be considered toys.  Behold:

1) Frisbees from Old Navy.  They are soft and rubbery, making them very durable and easy on the dog’s mouth when she catches them.  Last time I bought one it was $3.50.  They don’t always have them, but you can usually score them in the late spring or early summer.  They aren’t completely indestructible, but they’re close, and price-wise they beat the hell out of the $10 and $12 frisbees in the dog toy aisle. 

2)  Plain old racquetballs.  My dog can bust a tennis ball in about 15 minutes if she puts her mind to it, but I’ve never ever seen her bust a racquetball.  They are the same size as a tennis ball, not fuzzy so you can wipe them dry, and they literally will last forever.  You can get a tube of 2 for about $3.

Stop the jumping

I took the kids for a walk/jog today in our double jogging stroller.  Near the end of our jaunt we encountered an older couple with a beautiful black Labrador Retriever.  Lane, as she does, asked to pet the dog, so we asked the couple and they were happy to oblige.  We chatted for a few minutes and they shared that the dog is in training to be a guide dog for the blind, and is currently in the process of going through all the training and socialization and whatnot.  The dog is learning really well and is extremely obedient, except for one thing:  they cannot get her to stop jumping on people.  They’ve tried everything and are at their wits’ end.

Ahh, that sounded so familiar!  Bailey, our golden retriever, love that she is, was an avid jumper.  We tried EVERYTHING to get her to stop.  Her puppy trainer at PetSmart suggested rewarding her when she was calm… but when was she calm?!?  The ol’ bring up your knee advice had no effect, she thought it was a game.  No punishment was ever severe enough to deter her or to knock some sense into her — even the couple times I got so incredibly frustrated I actually punched her in the head.  (I hate to admit that, but it’s the truth.  She thought I was playing and jumped on me again.  Blockhead dog!)

Then, our epiphany.

Maybe someone told it to us, maybe I read it online somewhere — I cannot remember.  But wherever I got the idea, I am eternally grateful.  Bailey is a dog who craves attention.  Needs it, loves it, can’t live without it.  She loves people and wants to play.  She wants to be petted and loved.  She wants acknowledgment and acceptance.  So, we just started ignoring her when she jumped.  More than that, we stood crossed our arms and looked up and away from her, effectively withdrawing any semblance of attention.  It took a couple days of consistency, but the jumping abated.  We were amazed, we were thankful, we were in heaven!  We’d finally found the “punishment” that worked for our dog.

And it continues to work!  If she gets a little too exuberant with someone, we have them cross their arms and look up at the sky.  Bailey almost immediately will leave them alone.

I told these very nice people about our secret, and I think the light bulb went on for them too — it just might work.  I hope it does, their dog was otherwise beautiful and obedient and smart and well-behaved.

Good dog

Today is Bailey’s birthday. She’s 42.

Well, in dog years, anyway.

Bailey joined our family in 2002. I’d grown up with dogs but had never had MY OWN DOG, and Frank had never had a dog at all, so we figured we should get a dog of a breed with a reputation to be ‘easier’, as far as dogs go. We went back and forth and decided on a golden retriever. It seemed like a safe choice – smart, easy to train, good with kids.

I wanted to put a puppy picture here, but most of our pictures are in storage, and back then I was film-only. So this is the best puppy picture I can offer for now. The big black dog was my Grandpa Bill’s dog, Rocky.

Dog ownership has had its trying moments. Like for the while when we couldn’t figure out how to stop Bailey from jumping. (Somehow we got the idea to cross our arms, look up and ignore her, and it’s like magic!) Like when she had a spate of urinary tract infections – let me tell you, it is not fun trying to get a urine sample from a dog (but a pie tin, slid under at the right moment, works well enough). I lost more than one pair of beloved shoes to her puppy teething phase. And, as retrievers tend to be, Bailey certainly has her share of dependency affection and hyperactivity exuberance and destructiveness energy, but nothing anyone could call abnormal for a golden. She brought a bit of chaos to our generally quiet and predictable lives, and our days were better for it.

This is Frank and my brother, Mark.

But she has been a great dog. She is really smart, and was a cinch to housetrain. With just a bit of work she learned a lot of other useful stuff too, like sitting and staying and crating up. She’s a great dog for car trips, she isn’t at all anxious in the car, and stays relaxed throughout the trip (with occasional bouts of excitement to be going somewhere).

And then the kids came along, and she has proven her great-dog-ness in spades. In her they have a playmate, a jungle gym, a pony, a confidant, a partner in crime, a pillow, a teddy bear, and a guardian all in one big, furry package. She tolerates every bit of toy stealing and ear pulling and being sat on and and stepped on and laid on and jumped on with the patience of a saint, and still all she asks for return is an occasional cuddle and bowl of food.

With Lane when she was a week old.

With Lane last month.

As fitting for a family member, we will celebrate her birthday in a small way. We ordered her this ‘cake’ – it was Lane’s idea. She picked out the design, too.

Yes, I know, it’s a cat – there was a dog picture in the flyer right next to it. I even pointed it out and said “Don’t you think a dog picture would be more fitting? Bailey’s a dog, after all.” Lane said, “Yeah, but she likes cats too – like I like cats!” I couldn’t really argue with that logic. So, tonight after dinner, we’ll all have a piece of cookie cake and we’ll toast Bailey’s health.

So, Happy Birthday, Bailey! And thank you, for being a great dog. I hope we have the pleasure of your company for another six years.