Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Old Friend, New Friend

I think it was probably a while ago that I got to be too old to be the boy in the proverbial pair, but it's hard to feel all that old with a creature that burns so fast and bright.

I'm not the only one who can be both old and young at once. My dear, white-faced friend is showing his five years a little these days, if only in the fur.

He hasn't, though, needed any reminders from Comet about what it means to be a dog. At heart, he's still a goofy puppy who lives for a trail or a tennis ball. He' s just gotten better at catching those balls or judging what particular rattle of the keys means he's coming along on the trip.

What is it about a dog that encourages an unselfconscious sentimentality? Maybe it has to do with all the unselfconscious adoration they send your way.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two Weeks

It's only been two weeks, but Comet has grown enormously. You can see some of the facial features he'll have as a grown dog: the high forehead, the squared muzzle, the clear eyes. He's already dramatically different than when we brought him home.

He's also developing more of an adult gait. It's still mostly a puppy's bounding around, but you can see the beginnings of a smooth, rolling gallop in there. I think he'll be quite the athlete.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sleepy Time

Yesterday's walk really took it out of Comet. We probably went less than a mile all told, and we were out for less than an hour, but he did do quite a bit of romping with Gus, and he's still just a little guy. He was definitely mellow a bit by the time we got back to the car, and the day after, which is today, he's definitely been a little more relaxed.

In fact, when Comet falls asleep after being active, he goes out completely. You can pick him up, maneuver him, examine his teeth and paws, and do whatever you like. He's out.

He has not, however, been maneuvered into this particular position. Unlike Gus, who has always slept either on his side or with his head between his paws, and who has always disliked being rolled on his back even for belly rubs, Comet seems to end up like this pretty frequently.

You can see, peeking out on his right thigh there, a tattoo of his AKC number. Lisa, the breeder, had that done a week or so before I adopted him. I can register Comet with national services that if he ever gets lost, God forbid, the pound knows how to get in touch with me.

Being tired offered Comet an opportunity to practice an all-important skill for the companion Golden: snuggling. He's moved up in skill level from "I'm going to lie on your foot and snooze" to "I'm going to share warmth and love whether you like it or not."

The best part is that Gus doesn't seem to mind. Even when he's clearly not all that enthusiastic about it, he'll usually let Comet nod off for a few minutes before he gets up to go do his thing.

I never thought the one of us with the most patience for Comet's puppy behavior was going to be Gus. But there he is.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Comet Goes for a Walk

Dogs. Grow. Fast.

We haven't even had Comet for a week, and he's already bigger and more expressive. My folks came up to visit us (him, really), and we all went out for a walk on the school fields.

Normally, you can't quite tell that Goldens grow their ears first and then spend the next few months trying to catch the rest of the body parts up to size.

Except when they run.

Is he sneezing? Is he thinking? Is he squinting at the sun?

Who cares? It's completely adorable.

Gus was cooped up with the puppy all week, so he developed what we'll amicably label "a surplus of energy."

Well, he decided to get it all out of his system once he had an open field to roam in.

And he decided to teach Comet the finer points of the chase. We learned several things that day, one of which is Comet's current top speed.

Lest the tail between the legs give anyone the wrong impression, Comet is having a fantastic time in these pictures.

Gus is perhaps the greatest puppy-tire-er you can imagine. I'm not exactly sure how we'd deal with Comet's general exuberance if Gus didn't step up like he does.

Comet appears to be doing something mechanically impossible here. The grass isn't particularly long, and Comet isn't lying down, and yet he appears to have been pushed into the actual earth. I wish I could resolve what appears to be an essential, ontological conflict involving particles occupying the exact same positions. But I can't.

I can, however, assure you that Gus lands behind Comet with those front paws, not on him.

Then, of course, it's time for a little nose-licking. As we all know, frolicking in the grass can lead to unsightly trimmings on the bridge of the nose, as Comet's experiencing here. It's important to clear such impediments off before continuing with the game.

Of course, you can't always worry about the little things when it's time for the chase. You can clear off the grass on the fly.

Connecticut midwinter means sunset light around 3:30, and it gives Goldens a wonderfully rich color, doesn't it? Looks like he's going to be a handsome dog.

All the pictures in this entry were taken by my mom and her vastly superior camera.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

East, Sleep, Learn

Gus and Comet have continued to be fast friends. This kind of situation keeps arising because when Gus lies somewhere to take nap, Comet will head over and do his best to sleep on top of some part of Gus.

When we spend a while playing with Comet and teaching him, but he still has gas to burn, Gus takes over socialing Comet and providing him with stimuli. Between the three of us, we eventually win out over Comet. And then we all need a nap.

The next day, once school let out, Gus and I went up to school to check some things out. He met dozens of kids, got held by lots of people, and was exposed to all kinds of sights and sounds. All part of a good education for a developing puppy.

I was trying to get a picture with the camera even lower down, for a nicer perspective on Comet. That unfortunately made the camera look like fun to Comet, who came to check things out.

Or, a fifty foot dog attacked the school. You decide.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Comet's First Day

Last night, Lisa called and said that if I was still interested in the particular puppy I had picked out, he was mine for the taking. My mom came up to act as chauffeur (chauffeuse?) so the pup wouldn't have to experience his first car trip and separation from his family all alone in the back.

We got there, talked details, signed some papers, and I played around with the pup I had connected with a few days before. We knew him by the purple and white fabric paint he had on his back; the different colors were Lisa's way of telling them apart as she tested temperments and aptitudes.

He was the same alert, high personality pup I remembered, and after a few minutes of play in the backyard, he climbed into my arms and I sat in the passenger seat with him all the way home. He also left behind the name of "purple-white" and was officially dubbed "Comet."

From his first second in the house, he's been inquisitive, alert, and tuned into people and events.

Even before we got home, though, we needed to visit Andy on his break from work. Comet, exhausted from the anxiety of the separation and the trip, and also from his one major puke in the seventy minute trip, and soothed by Andy's wonderful warmth, dozed right off in his arms.

This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, no?

Comet lost no time introducing himself to the final member of his nuclear family.

Gus, for his part, exhibited no jealousy, no aggression, and no selfishness around the pup.

That's an understatement. Gus was remarkably tolerant and enthused by even the most obnoxious behavior Comet could muster.

Remember: Comet has been in the house for less than three hours at this point. Gus gets major points for helping to make the transition so smooth and fun for his new little brother. Well, technically, Comet is his father's half-brother, but let's not split whiskers.

The fact that I made a dog pun that derivative must indicate that I've devolved into a crazy dog person—or that I've been deprived of sleep.

It's not all perfect. This day kicked off a week of sleep interrupted by sporadic yips, a handful of accidents involving the undeveloped bladder control of an eight-week-old golden retriever, and a 24/7 commitment to getting Comet started off on the right foot on the literally dozens of behaviors and attitudes that separate the good dog from the problem dog.

So I've gotten little sleep, and practically nothing done, as evinced by the fact that this entry about 1/6 was actually written and posted on 1/14. But look into that inquisitive, eager to please, and slighty heathenish stare and tell me it could be anything but worth it.

And besides, with Gus, Andy, and me all working with him and pulling for him, we'll all make it through pretty well.

Many thanks to my mom for most of these pictures.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Puppy in the Mist

We got to thinking that because Gus was already the best dog in the entire world, the next logical step was to add another one to the family.

So I went on a breeder research spree in order to see if the perfect dog for us was out there in the ether or in the world. I've heard lightning can strike twice, y'know?

I started with Sunfire Golden Retrievers, since their amazing dogs figure big in Gus's pedigree.

Gus's grandsire on his father's side is the award winning Sunfire's XX Muleteam Borax, one of the more celebrated and wonderful golden retrievers in recent history. This picture was taken back in May of 1996, when Borax wasn't even three. He's just won one of many titles for obedience, working, hunting, utility, and the like.

The Sunfire folks don't have any litters right now, but Borax's owner is starting out as a breeder, and her first litter of puppies crosses Borax with this gorgeous dog, Emma (Sunfire Windrush's Mrs Peele), who at two already has her master hunter rating.

If, like me, you recognize that Emma Peel is a reference to something, but you can't place it, follow the link and be edified by wikipedia.

The puppies are coming up on that magic eight week mark when you can bring them home, so I went to visit them and their mom (Borax has died at the quite respectable age of fourteen).

I met Lisa Weinberg, who is both Borax's owner and the wise soul who bred these two dogs. I was impressed with her dedication to both the breed and to her dogs.

Here she is with Borax, who was a hunting dog and an athlete right up until the end of his long, rich life.

After a couple of hours with the pups, I was sold, and Andy agreed that one of these dogs is for us.

I did, incidentally, fall in love with one of the puppies I met, but Lisa is very serious about placing the puppies carefully according to temperament, so I'll have to see what she says when I go back on Sunday to try to pick one up. This has all moved a bit fast in the last forty-eight hours, but Andy, Gus, and I are all ready for a new member of the family, so I'm as excited as I can be.