About this Book. What Ann Johnson brings to the discussion in this book are very personal ways of caring for Golden Retriever puppies based on her experience, knowledge, and background in Biology. Her natural ability to listen to all points of view and her extensive background in science as an educator and researcher have proven invaluable in helping to create the best and most harmonious life for each of her Golden puppies and for each puppy's family.
Explaining the growth phases of a Golden puppy during his first year of life, Ann separates these periods into stages of development, describing the major changes that take place:
Seven Weeks through Four Months
Five Months through Eight Months
Nine Months through Twelve Months
In a comprehensive middle section of the book, she deals with Health Concerns:
Feeding and Nutrition
Common Health Problems
Neutering and Spaying
Finally, she addresses specific topics for new owners (and breeders) each with a distinct chapter, including a puppy's first visit to the vet (written by Jean H. Cunningham-Smith,
This book is basically a compilation of responses to questions owners of new puppies have asked her over the course of three decades working with new owners and their families. In addition, she discusses matters she finds interesting or fascinating. Nor does she avoid discussing areas controversial in the breed: "Not everything is known about so-called genetic defects," she says. "For breeders and owners to focus exclusively on the genetic component and not take into consideration environmental influences ignores a major component of what goes into producing a healthy Golden."
Most amazing of all is Ann's devotion to her own canines and to the welfare of the breed. She is not only clearly fascinated with the lives of these wonderful creatures, but she is as closely connected to their world as she is to ours.
Download the first chapter
Author's Comments: For more than fourty years I have been raising my Gold-Rush Golden Retrievers and have enjoyed seeing these puppies go off to become happy members of many families. The relationship between the Golden and his family is very special because nothing pleases the Golden more than to be with his family.
I hope this book will be of value both to new puppy owners as well as responsible breeders of Golden Retrievers who address questions posed by owners of their new puppies. These observations and ideas of course are based on my own experience, reading, personal research, and interactions with responsible breeders past and present, and I trust they may be of some benefit to those who believe, as I do, that a thorough knowledge of the breed will enable us to enjoy better the unique qualities of our beloved Goldens.
I do not regard this book as a definitive work on puppy management and training, or a reference book on canine pediatrics. It is basically a compilation of responses to questions people have asked me during the course of more than three decades of working with new puppy owners and their families. In addition I refer to matters that I have found interesting as a biologist and to situations and "laws of nature" that have helped me understand those Goldens that have been such a great part of my life.
Publisher's Comments: Golden Retriever puppies. How can we better understand these little creatures who live in a world of perceptions more acute and quite dissimilar from ours? What distinguishes their world of sense impressions when compared to ours-a world of different colors, of sounds unknown to us because existing in octaves above and below our hearing ability, a universe of olfactory qualities and substances so completely unfamiliar to us? Why are our perceptions so different from theirs? Where do these two "worlds" come from? One answer of course resides in understanding that we and they were able to survive, and have evolved, in response to environments that were important to each of us. We adapted. In this sense, we are also both very similar.
Ann Johnson stands in the middle of these two worlds-our world and the world of the puppy, where there are so many differences and similarities, where answers may be true for one but not for the other. What Ann brings to this discussion are very personal and practical ways of looking at the subject of raising Golden Retrievers, which has inspired her during more than thirty years of studying the breed, along with devising solutions that have helped her and those who work with her. One way of understanding her approach to raising a splendid Golden Retriever is to read about her experiences and ideas relevant to a Golden puppy's life in the context of stages of development.
Ann's days are filled with innumerable discussions with people who come to her requesting explanations or information. Learning is a two-way opportunity, involving as much listening and understanding another's concerns as suggesting solutions. Her natural ability to listen to all points of view and her extensive background in science, as a researcher and educator, are invaluable and can be applied to the subject that she loves most of all: to create the best and most harmonious life she can for each Golden puppy and the Golden's family.
The wellspring of science rests on a curiosity about the natural world and the desire to make improvements, a desire to understand the puzzling mysteries of life on earth. Thus, the aim of science, it can be said, is to "to advance our understanding of nature." From the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution-from the time of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton-basic principles resided in observations and descriptions. Even today these methods orchestrate the way research is still carried on. Not that much has changed in methodology during the past 400 years, except in the rigor with which it is now practiced and the practical need for universally understood definitions and terminologies.
What inspires science, however, is its openness to challenge and the willingness to acknowledge new and better explanations based on recent information and confirmation. Every perceived confirmation lends support to the evidence that the new explanation is indeed more nearly the correct one for a certain time or place.
There are still so many questions and problems for which science does not yet have complete answers or indeed any suggestions for answers. For instance, why do two primate species almost phenotypically identical, the Chimpanzee and the Bonobo, have two totally different social structures: one entirely male dominated, the other completely female dominated, and both completely successful? Or why are the phenotypes of certain species-for example, the coelecanth and horseshoe crab-unchanged after millions of years? In the area of the micro-world, what are the effects of "protein folding" and what are the evolutionary origins of exons and introns?
The world of nature changes; the world of nature also remains the same. It is time to understand the natural world in biologically scientific terms, to trust the observations of practicing scientists, to sift the facts, and to adjust our thinking according to new realities based on the evidence. New facts and the interpretation of facts are increasing exponentially, in bursts over short time periods, and undergoing intense scrutiny. Scientific knowledge is accumulating at a rapid pace.
Applying the scientific method, scientists propose interpretations, weigh complexities, formulate tentative suggestions, and test hypotheses-replacing old hypotheses with new ones when the former ones don't work. Indeed, that is the calling of scientists, and their bliss. They glide slowly along complex mental pathways toward "truth," which is the testing of fact or an explanation for its possible refutation, choosing the path that will lead most quickly to results.
Ann Johnson does not shy away from addressing areas that are of major concern to breeders and owners. Focusing on the nature and history of cancer and canine hip dysplasia, she offers an overview of different perspectives presently in vogue. Her own explanations are based on decades of observation, on discussions with other breeders and owners, on the considerable literature on these subjects, and on results. Her conclusions may challenge previously "accepted wisdom," but her observations must be, at the very least, addressed. One thing that sustains her hypotheses, controversial though they may be to some, is the scientific perspective.
It is the legitimate and necessary goal of breeders to improve the breed. But this goal will not be realized if "improving the breed" is based on fundamental misunderstandings relevant to life or lives that can be well lived. It is also the duty of breeders to share their experiences and to provide hypotheses and offer better explanations about ways to reach their goals-explanations based on observations and on the search for exceptions-and to discuss them and have them challenged.
In this book, the author has handled complex and controversial areas in a straightforward way that I hope will open doors to more fruitful discussions of these topics in future, in an arena of intellectually honest debate.