I consider myself a Golden Retriever enthusiast. Over the years I have learned so much about them. I loe Golden Retrievers dearly. Mercy is in fact my first Golden Retriever. True, I do lack experience with her. My goal is for Mercy to reach the higest potiential as possible. My bigger goal yet, however, is to use her as a tool of evangelism to share God’s uncondiitonal love, grace and Mercy with others. No doubt, Goldens were originally bred as hunting dogs by Lord Tweedmouth. As with other sporting breeds, Goldens were bred and trained to retrieve water fowl. They have reliably retrieved for their masters for generations. They have also become to be known as faithful loving sweet natured companions. Understandably, we should do our best to preserve the Golden Retriever breed for it’s original purposes. At the same time, the companionship of a Golden has become much loved and cherished. They have been trained to be seeing eye dogs and service dogs as well. Due to their loving natures, they make wonderful therapy dogs and thye bring comfort to many hurting people. In my opinion, Goldens should be embraced more for the joy and cheer they give to troubled hurting poeple, whether their owners or clients visited as a therapy dog. I think an even better use for a Golden is to bring comfort to the broken hearted children out there. In light of the most recent tragedy, I applaud Luthern Church Charities for bringing their comfort dogs halfway across the country to visit with those people traumatized by the Sandy Hook Shooting.
Mercy is now 10 months old. In another post, I had said that I am currently struggling to get her her Canine Good Citizen. The CGC is due to become an official obedience title next year. I pray that with a little more work and effort, Mercy and I will do it, fo rit is a stepping stone to her becomming a therapy dog. I am still a beginner. Many people have owned Goldens for many years and generations. It is great to be a veteran Golden owner. At the same time, veteran Golden owners should understand the excitement and type of unique joy Goldens being to newbies. They should be willing to lovingly mentor beginner handlers, so that their dogs can reach their highest potential. There is much more deeper and wider meaning to Golden Retriever ownership than competition and earning titles, however. The relationships between Golden and owner and Golden and the people it meets are profoundly important. Just look at how the Comfort Goldens from LCC have touched the lives of these broken hearted families and children who knew those who were slain. More experienced veteran Golden owners should not look down upon rookie Golden owners, ignore or reject them. I wouldn’t call all therapy handlers inexperienced when compared to competition handlers, but more intently focused on a different mission. I agree that only Goldens that have been proven to meet the structural standards through confirmation and behavioral standards through obedience should be bred. At the same time people who are involved with Goldens should not allow competition, titles, and achievements or accomplishments get to their heads. There are too many Golden enthisiasts who are so involved with earning titles including hunting competitions, that they discount the other purposes and benefits that Goldens have become well known for as demonstrated by the group of Goldens and their handlers visiting the families in Newtown Conneticut for instance. For some, being a Golden enthusiast means seeing how many hunting titles they can achieve. For others just having foundational obedience for the purpose of having a great companion or using them to help others is plenty. There are some Goldens that have both obedience titles of various types that are also therapy dogs. There are many local Golden Retriever clubs as part of the Golden Retriever Club of America and the American Kennel Club in different parts of the country. Some of the people of these local clubs in my opinion are over the top when it comes to competition, achievement and titles rather than celebrating the Golden Retriever’s loving compassionate nature. Although bred for hunting originally, Goldens should be regarded as faithful loving companions that bring joy and cheer to people of all backgrounds first and the accomplishments made to prove their soundness as a dog true to it’s breed which includes hunting and athletic ability should be secondary.
I am all for protecting the breed and leaving breeding to the serious experts. There is overlap between Goldens making fine loving companions and reliable performance dogs. A breeder should always breed for temperament rather than looks. Reputable breeders who breed only sound dogs that have been proven through confirmation and obedience, tracking, and other types of accomplishments are to be applauded and most breeders agree with the rest of us that a Golden’s sweet loving nature is something to be cherished. There are many of us however that are content just to have a loving dog that we can enjoy with our families as well as train for a purpose. There appears to be different opinions, values, philosophies, interests between veteran Golden owners involved in clubs and those who are content with just the companionship of this wonderful breed. Not everyone is able nor wants to achieve JH, SH, MH WC or WCX titles. Granted, Mercy’s ancestors have WC and VC and VCX titles. My point is that there are Golden retriever owners and lover of various backgrounds and levels of experience. I am hoping to take both a subnovice class and a beginners agility class in the spring. While my greater goal is to train Mercy to be an excellent therapy dog, I wish to do my best in training her ot reach her fullest potential. I lament that there are not much programs in my hometown that help you prepare your Golden Retriever for it’s purpose. I have gone to various obedience classes that I have managed to find, but there is still a void. In my area there is a local Golden club, of which Mercy’s breeder is a member, that is based in a neighboring state, but covers my state as well. As if traveling long distance was not enough of an obstacle, the club consists of mostly older people with decades of experience under their belts who have mastered advanced obedience and/or hunting competitions. I just went to their Christmas party and hardly anybody wanted to get to know me or my goals for my Golden except for 2 club officers. As a beginner, I feel so out of place in this group of prestigious accomplished Golden owners. Golden clubs should consist of Golden owners of various backgrounds and obedience levels. There should be more diversity in these groups so that everyone can learn from each other. I want to get involved with Mercy to help her obtain basic or perhaps intermediate obedience titles starting with her CGC and maybe a beginner’s agility title as well as helping Mercy to be trained to be a therapy dog or more importantly her purpose to be a tool used for evangelism and God’s kingdom. There are also a lack of local kennel clubs are able to help me and Mercy. I am not giving up. I will try to see if I can be more involved with my club, but even more importantly help Mercy become the dog that God created her to be, a loving, calm, obedient ambassador for Christ who comforts troubled, hurting people who are in need of being soothed and comforted and to know about God’s love, grace and mercy including hurting special needs kids or troubled teens. My heart goes out to those people whose lives were affected by the shooting and I dedicate this post to them.
Best of luck to you and Mercy!