The Gold Standard: The Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook
By Marilyn Wilson

More than any other breed, the Golden Retriever epitomized the ideal family dog. The Golden, whose friendly visage is so often seen on greeting cards and covers of catalogs and magazines and in television ads, has long held the number two spot on the AKC list of registered dogs in the US.
     And why not? Little Golden puppies ¨C fuzzy, plump, bright-eyed, cheerful and playful ¨Care hard to resist. Goldens mature majestically, with stunning coats, kind brown eyes, a prancing gait and a positive attitude about life and human companionship, as evidenced by the smiling faces they maintain even when grayed with age. Noted for their steady nature and intelligence, Goldens are prized as family companions and are equally effective as working dogs in the areas of hunting, therapy, assistance and search and rescue. While not noted for their guarding ability, they will sure let you know if someone is coming into your home, as they are always looking for another human friend who offers even more pets and hugs.
     But any popular dog breed is not without its problems. Puppy mills and backyard breeders have led to some poor examples of many breeds. Equally problematic is the impulse buyer, who purchases that cute Golden puppy without a clue as to how to properly raise and train their new family member. Goldens are not born as the perfect pet. A well-bred Golden has a good start, but there is so much more. They must be nurtured and trained, and their medical needs knowledgably attended to.
     R. Ann Johnson, the noted founder of Gold-Rush Goldens, has published the definitive book on Golden Retrievers: The Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook: The Care and Training of a Golden Retriever Puppy from Seven Weeks Through Twelve Months. Her book is an essential resource for anyone contemplating bringing a Golden into their home, as well as anyone who already shared their life with one.
     Ms. Johnson has an impeccable background in Golden retrievers, having produced over 300 American and Canadian champions over the past three decades. Pair that with degrees in the sciences, including zoology and genetics, and an exceptional ability to impart her knowledge through writing, and a smashing book is guaranteed. Both well written and informative, this book will be pulled off the shelf almost daily after you bring home your precious puppy.
     Quite humbly, Ms. Johnson explained that the book ¡°is a compilation of responses to questions people have asked me during the course of more than 30 years working with new puppy owners and their friends.¡± Well, Ms. Johnson, your compilation is the ¡°Golden Retriever Bible.¡±
     Ms. Johnson has long professed that ¡°a scientific approach to responsible breeding remains a top priority to me,¡± but she also addresses the importance of environmental influences. In Part II, she emphasizes the importance of early socialization, training, understanding puppy behavior and developmental changes, again with that special slant aimed at the Golden Retriever and its traits.
     So easy to read and understand, Ms. Johnson leads us through the life of a Golden, from the selection of a breeder and a puppy, through the very early days when the pup comes to your home, to the middle stages and finally to the needs and care of the older puppy. The book is beautifully illustrated by Karen Walter and includes important new perspectives about Golden Retriever health care and issues, as well as an interview with noted veterinarian Jean H. Cunningham-Smith VMD. Though not implicit to its title, the book is a Golden Retriever reference book that will last throughout the life of your dog. And, though the emphasis is on Ms. Johnson¡¯s favorite breed, the Golden, I find that the book does have much needed pertinent information about puppies in general.
     Like so many homes that cannot imagine a life without a Golden, I can¡¯t imagine a Golden home without The Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook, available through Darwin Press.

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