Saturday, August 25, 2007

GMGRC Picnic

Murphy galloping around the grounds grinning.

Well the annual golden club picnic was this afternoon - not the turnout that I think we had expected - but it was humid and ninety degrees and we were twice interrupted with thunderstorms so I can't say I blame people for staying home - especially since most of the club would have traveled over an hour each way.

The best part of any gathering at Ruth's place is that she lives on 10 acres of pure golden retriever heaven - just heaven. A GIANT backyard that on one side slopes down into an immaculate agility field and on the other into a gorgeous man-made pond (apparently without turtles). While the turnout seemed small it is always impressive to me when you can let 15 dogs who have never met loose to run with each other (and 5-6 of those were intact males) and aside from a bitch reminding a rude boy to stop smelling her fanny everyone got along (and even the fanny reminder was nothing more than some noise - at which the rude offender backed off and left her alone).

Teller helps with parking control.

There were plenty of tennis balls to play with and they all took turns stealing each others TBs, galloping around the yard and cooling off in the pond. All of the dogs stayed with their people, with the exception of one young lady prone to zoomies who went on a brief excursion and when mom didn't follow came trotting back looking a little embarassed that she had thought to go on an adventure by herself.

Murphy and Teller enjoying a swim.

The usual club business - we actually made money on our agility trial this year - YAY! It seems like we agree on most things we want to change for next year and then a really deep divide about a couple of somewhat key points. As trial chair for this years trial and chairing two other trials this year I'm feeling "done" as far as trial chair work goes - I've done my share and it's time for someone else to step up and take some ownership. I would do it again of course but I won't repeat the same mistakes we made this year and until that matter is settled we are a trial without a chair....

Whirl of gold whips by

Some cool things, as a club we've been somewhat dysfunctional - twice annual meetings, a large trial, a supported entry and a board that basically gets things done. Brilliant really - for such a small group we get a lot done, but we need more membership and we as a club need to do more together - or at least have something to offer members. At this point there isn't a benefit to being part of our club and that has to change to attract membership.

As always the discussion of breeder referral gets messy. Everyone has their own way of doing things I guess and while we have a code of ethics from our parent club not everyone agrees that those codes are enough - and not how they would do it...I don't think we'll ever all agree - though we all agree that each person believes they are doing the "right" thing - scientific data backing both sides - it's the old chicken and egg question isn't it....

More Action shots on pagesculptor:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Teller: One dog wrecking crew

There's an interesting thread that is going on the Work_Gold mailing list over the past week or so…essentially there are three camps "arguing" about the breed standard - people who breed for the conformation ring, others who breed for field, others who breed for agility/obedience and still others who breed specifically for pet homes. The fierce beliefs on the list echo what we see in goldens as a breed - the dichotomy between "types", health and temperament problems - disagreement over what is "breed type" and what is "golden temperament". The hunt/field people swear that first and foremost a golden retriever is a RETRIEVER and must be physically able to carry large foul moderate distance over ground and water - the measure of this varies from person to person, but essentially this camp believes that a golden should have some sort of field/hunt title behind it's name before it is ever bred...The breed people insist that it's structure and gait and where there's form there MUST be function - even if they don't test their dogs on birds you need a skull of X proportion to muzzle, depth of chest, etc etc. The pet people stress temperament over all else - must be a creature that gets along with everyone, breed a structurally deficit animal that doesn't retrieve just because he is a big lovable goof. Then there's the last camp: The people who are breeding border collies in golden suits, conformation is not high on their list, temperament isn't high either - it's fast and trainable - bidability - but no one uses that word. These are the dogs that come from parent, grandparent, etc etc etc - OTCH, MACH,etc.

All potentially valid goals, that backfire occasionally: the gorgeous breed or agility dog that has to be kept under thumb not to eat another dog in the ring (this seems to be pretty common now in the breed ring, with dogs making contact with other dogs and still placing), the field-type dog that physically falls apart at a young age, the cancer that is so prevalent in our breed, dogs with zero interest or drive to retrieve anything or dogs that covet what they "get" and won't return despite the best training attempts to correct the possessive behavior. Then there are the breed dogs with so short a muzzle are unable to fit a chuckar in their mouths - let alone the chest and neck required to carry a full-grown Canada goose back from dense cover. One of the reasons that I feel very strongly if Teller ever gets to reproduce he's got to get out there and learn to be a retriever - dummies don't count - he's got to be able to work ducks (geese scare the crap out of me - so I think we'll stick to ducks - maybe big fat ducks).

Anyway, my point here is that being the "conformation" dog that Teller is, he's got a fantastic work ethic - he'll retrieve back to hand until he drops (that's my guess, I don't push him). He's shown interest in wings and birds though I'm hesitant to do too much with them for fear of "breaking" him - we finally found a field trainer who will work with us without the use of e-collars. We start in September - anyhow…I keep re-reading the field breeder argument "must be able to physically retrieve a full grown goose" - to me that means, find the dropped bird,pick it up and return it to whomever sent him to get it. I've studied Teller's muzzle, the shape of his head, the length of his neck and the depth of his chest - yes, I think he's got the structure - the form to work with a large bird. Yes I think he has the instinct to return it to me - he's got adequate form to that function and the boldness (he's cheeky) to bring it back and be rather pleased with himself for doing so.

Tonight I'm in the kitchen making lasagna, it's cool enough that I can leave the back door open and let the boys go in and out as they choose. I put the lasagna in the oven and pause - there's Murphy…where's Teller? Uh-oh, it's awfully quiet - where's Teller…then there's a clunk on the deck, and a crash in the doorway. In walks Teller carrying a shovel - Yes, a 4' spade with iron shovel part. He's holding it a foot from the handle (meaning he's not even close to balancing it) the metal shovel bit only briefly delays Teller's entrance sticking on door jam while Teller wiggles to get his "prize" into the house. With a whoosh Teller is in the house and the end table is cleared by the spade (remotes, box of tissues, a soda can, my laptop,digital camera, phone, cell phone, pager) - everything falls onto the floor with a thud, Teller turns around to inspect his damage and clears the coffee table and takes down the grooming table - the grooming table comes as a bit of a surprise to dear Teller who is startled by the chaos that "just happens" to be going on around him, he heads back out the door, not before hooking the side of a crate which he drags out the door with him (still holding the shovel) - now the real fun begins - SLAM (clay flower pot with impatiens - cracked in half), WHACK (solar lantern), CLANG (my stainless steel grill), BOING (the side of the pool) - meanwhile his tail is wagging so proudly and he's doing the most expressive gaiting I've ever seen him do - all while carrying the damn shovel. So, what do you guys think - can he can carry a goose?

Meanwhile, I'm still picking up the pieces and trying to convince Uncle Murphy that the sky is NOT falling...oh and the laptop, camera and pager all survived the fall - the pot of impatiens weren't so lucky...