Preface

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 answers.

      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.

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      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 family.

      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 possible.

      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 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.

      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.