Adopting a Dog is Serious Business

I have now been officially approved to adopt a Golden Retriever from either of the two local rescue organizations: GRREAT (Golden Retriever Rescue Education and Training) and Goldenheart. These are two excellent volunteer organizations which work hard to make certain that Goldens that are abandoned, lost, or displaced find good lifetime homes. They take pains to screen both the dogs and the families, to make certain that everyone is completely aware of potential issues that may arise with the dogs behavior or the owner’s habits.

P.S. If you are wondering about the puppies I’m holding in the photo, they belonged to our previous Golden Retriever and member of our family, Grace and were born in 2005. All went to wonderful homes and were spayed or neutered, so no descendants. Awfully cute!


Goldens are Great!

Last night a volunteer from G.R.R.E.A.T. came to visit our house. (G.R.R.E.A.T. stands for Golden Retriever Rescue, Education and Training) She brought her big cuddly bear of a dog, Ozzie, with her to explain the G.R.R.E.A.T. adoption process. Ozzie investigated our house, including the side-yard and even went down into the basement, while we talked about dogs and shared a few stories about our previous Golden and member of the family, Grace.
The posted photo was taken in 2005, when Grace was about three and a half years old. She was so gorgeous! And my daughter Alex, now a statuesque young lady who’ll be turning 19 on Friday, was in Middle School. My husband Peter looks about the same. And that’s a good thing.
I was given some additional information about dog foods, and learned we need to be more selective in evaluating the food that we purchase. Many dog foods are laced with questionable preservatives and loaded with fillers.
Next step is to receive an approval letter with a list of available dogs– based on suitability for our family, at which point the ball is back in our court. As the start of a New Year approaches, I am thankful I feel hearty enough to welcome a new dog into our home. I’m looking forward to long walks and more adventures.

August Annapolis Dog Days WIthout a Dog

It’s the start of a new month and perhaps finally the U.S. Congress and President had scraped together a deal of sorts, but I certainly wouldn’t call it “the new deal” giving any hope that what has been crafted will alleviate the current strain on the economy of too few jobs and services for the majority of those who need them…
When I’m restless I tend to want to walk, even if it is hot outside, I still walk, I just choose early morning or late at night when there is some sort of breeze. It has been a little over three weeks since our dog Grace died, so people still stop us on the street and ask “Where is the dog?”
A few days ago we introduced ourselves to Ernestine who works in the courthouse at Church Circle. She liked to say hello to Grace because she loves golden retrievers and missed taking care of her son’s dog. She felt very sad for us. She is planning to get a dog of her own, when she has more time. I guess when she retires.
My husband Peter and I saw a beautiful Golden last night and just wanted to hug her, but stayed away. The temptation was too great to start sinking in the sadness of missing our own dog. We used to get stopped by visitors to the city, wanting to pet Grace because they missed their dog at home and sometimes they wanted to pet Grace because they were mourning their dog that died— sometimes one, two, three years ago. Now we are one of those people.

A Very Special Golden Retriever

Thank you, everyone who has called, sent cards, stopped me on the street, and expressed their sadness and concern on hearing about Grace’s death. I still expect to see her standing in the front hallway when I put the key in the lock of the front door or hear the jingle of the tags clinking together that hung on her collar indicating she is coming down the stairs. My husband Peter told me this morning there is still her nose print on the glass back door and when I’m in the kitchen cooking and I look out into the backyard and I expect to see her standing in the patio waiting to get inside. Dogs are like that sometimes, always wanting to come in and when they are out and out when they are in—much like children, and Peter was always saying Grace was our last child. Now folks are asking when are we planning to get a new puppy? Are we going to get another golden? Are we going to get another dog?
At present, we are still grieving. In my family, my mother always emphasized the importance of spending time to mourn your losses. A psychiatric social worker, she counseled it is not wise to just rush out and get a replacement Every pet is special and should be remembered and mourned for several months. I don’t know if I can wait that long because I see so many dogs— big ones, small ones, puppies, middle-aged dogs— romping with their owners. Every time I take a walk, yes Peter and I are still walking morning and evening even if we don’t have a dog to walk, and we both point out and comment on the dogs we see. “Look a puppy!” We ooh and ah. This morning I saw a small puppy guide-dog-in-training with his trainer accompanied by a mature guide dog and a woman in a wheel chair. Wouldn’t that be a nice thing to do, to train a guide dog. A noble thing to do, although I’d probably be so sad to part with the puppy I had trained. And then there is the question of time, training a puppy takes a lot of time and I’m not home very much. When Grace was a puppy, our daughter Alex was in fourth grade and I did my writing and editing from home. I could take her out for several walks a day to get her housebroken and Alex was home mid afternoon to walk her again and play with her. So I’m still thinking….
(If you are wondering about the photograph above, it was taken at Quiet Waters Park. The first couple of years after Grace had her nine puppies, we’d meet for a reunion with those owners who could attend. Grace is the dog on her hind legs being held by Peter and her mate Augie is the Golden wearing a red bandana.)

Epitaph to the Best Golden in Annapolis

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably already acquainted with Grace of Naptown. If you’re a frequent walker in downtown Annapolis, you’ve probably met her in person and stroked her soft golden fur. She was a regular visitor to City Dock Cafe and could be seen mornings, around 7:00 a.m. waiting patiently outside while her owners stood in line for their morning coffee. While waiting, she made many friends, and was offered pieces of bagel and muffin which she enjoyed, but she really loved the petting. She loved the attention given by everyone who met her, for being a golden she loved people more than anything else.
Grace has become such a familiar fixture, that if my husband Peter or I were to dare to go out for a walk in the evening, perhaps to go to dinner or the theater– to a place where dogs were not allowed, we’d be asked, “Where is Grace?”
I fear we will be asked that question many times in the upcoming weeks. Grace died on Friday, July 8th. She had a good final week on this earth spending time doing what she loved to do best: walking, exploring the smells of the woods, chasing chipmunks and squirrels, making new friends, swimming in the Bay, rolling in the sand. While it appeared her immediate cause of death was congestive heart failure, we are not certain of the specific illness but suspect it was a swift moving cancer.
Grace, hailed from Berkley Springs West Virginia and was the daughter of Lady and Prince of the Knoll. She gave birth to nine puppies sired by another small Golden Retriever, Augie. All nine puppies went to wonderful homes. One daughter predeceased her, succumbing to cancer. We have many fond memories of the “puppy experience” and I even wrote an article about it for What’s Up? Annapolis in October of 2005, which was enthusiastically lauded as well as sharply criticized by those not in favor of “amateur breeding.” Grace accompanied us to Trick or Treat for Halloween as well as to walk on behalf of the SPCA. One of her favorite hiking spots were the trails at Greenberry Point where she would sometimes attempt to chase after deer. She would sit patiently while small children and toddlers would attempt to pet her and grunt approvingly while being scratched behind the ears and under the chin.
The best dog I’ve ever known, she will be missed but not forgotten.

Why I’m Not Sad the Blue Angels Are Cancelled

Yes I know many of my friends, neighbors, and colleagues–are disappointed. No Blue Angels air show this year to commemorate the U.S. Naval Academy Graduation. But then they don’t live downtown and own a dog, a golden retriever,

Grace Does not like the sound of thunder or jets.
who is afraid of thunder and the Blue Angels do sound a lot like thunder only a little more high pitched with a lot more vibration. I don’t like the sound either. When I worked at home, I found it very distracting and annoying and no I had no big desire to go outside and watch the planes swerving around in the sky overhead.
Sometimes silence is sweet.

Walk for the Woods, A Day Late But Worth the Wait!

The sky is always a beautiful shade of blue when the sun comes out after a storm and that was certainly the case yesterday at Bacon Ridge natural area. It was Walk for the Woods 2011, and with the easement preservation of Bacon Ridge, a total of 2000 acres are now being conserved in Anne Arundel County through the facilitation of land conservation easements, the result of hard work on the part of the Scenic Rivers Land Trust.
These were not groomed trails, being a combination of logging roads and paths marked with pink, green or yellow tags, so the going was sometimes slippery and bumpy, but the vistas of trees were beautiful. Many bird watchers were on the scene, armed with binoculars and long range lenses on their cameras. A few hardy souls who had walked the trails on the rainy Saturday returned on Sunday with high rubber boots. Yes, there was a lot of muck and my almost new cross trainers are now a dingy shade of gray, but our golden retriever Grace had a fine time. Maybe in the next day or so we’ll squeeze in the time to give her a much needed bath.
Currently access to the Bacon Ridge Natural area is off of Marbury Road near the old Crownsville Hospital on Crownsville Road. The trails are not currently regularly open to the public but eventually citizens will have access through the county park system. It’s a lovely addition to several wonderful spots in Anne Arundel County to take a hike.