There was once a physicist who never took part in
discussions with his colleagues and also didnít want to publish
anything. His colleagues believed he was quite intelligent and very
knowledgeable, but they werenít sure and, to remove all doubt, they
kept urging him to publish. One day, he yielded to their requests and
finally published an article, and everyone in his department read it.
And when afterward they talked about it, everyone agreed . . . they
still didnít quite know for sure.
Well, Iíve been
asked by numerous people to write on the topic of the care and
training of puppies, but Iím feeling like the inscrutable physicist
who was urged on by his colleagues to publish in order to remove all
doubt about his competence. Why inscrutable? Because this is a subject
about which, I believe, there are no easy answers. And I know you want
There are many
breeders who have opinions, but I submit there are almost as many
variations on the "truth" as there are breeders. If you have
an opinion on any of the subjects presented here, and you differ in
your opinion, all I can say is, "you may be right." For
those of you who are confused about, or unacquainted with, any or all
of these subjects, perhaps I can help you by offering a way of looking
at the subject as I do and by suggesting guidelines about what to do
and what to look for.
Itís really not
possible for me to predict the outcome of all the factors that combine
to go into the development of your Golden, who must cope with you and
your unique world. I will try to explain the Goldenís innate nature
so that you may better meet his needs and mold him into the companion
that you desire. As a breeder, my responsibility toward the Golden
Retriever and toward the breed and to youóas owner, guardian, and
caretakeróis truly one that I regard as a privilege.
A scientific approach to responsible
breeding remains a top priority for me. By this I mean that
"science" implies a dimension of change; we are learning and
changing our perceptions and perspectives almost on a daily basis.
Truth in understanding also is not immutable. Hypotheses explain the
data, but as more is learned, the hypotheses (the interpretation of
reality) need to be changed or revised to fit new observations. For
instance, I believe not everything is known about so-called genetic
defects. 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 healthy Goldens.
Breeders have an added responsibility to know how certain bloodlines
mix; they also need to have the freedom to make the best decisions on
their own in the interest of breed purpose, type, and soundness.
For more than thirty
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
My purpose in
writing this book is to help members of the human family recognize and
meet the needs of the Golden Retriever they are fortunate to own.
These pages are designed to acquaint you with an overall picture of
the breed as well as the many specifics you will need in order to
manage a puppy properly and to allow him to develop into the best dog
Further, 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
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.
This book is not intended to
supplant the contribution of the veterinarian responsible for the
health of our puppies, but it does contain material, including my
interview with Jean Cunningham-Smith, VMD, that, I hope, will be
helpful in understanding the valuable contribution of your
veterinarian to the lifetime care of your puppy.