On Goldens.

I didn’t know that the Golden Retriever breed is only 150 years old.  The 13th Amendment is 150 years old, so are speed limits and The Secret Service.

Golden Retrievers owe themselves to Lord Tweedmouth.  Of course they do.  1864.  Lord Tweedmouth was an interesting guy.  He came from money, and when that money trickled down to him the first thing he did was buy a brewery.  A decision I support.  It was for sale, in part, because of an “industrial accident” later named The London Beer Flood of 1814.  250,000 gallons of beer flooded a London neighborhood and killed 8 people.  Is it too soon to joke?  Tweedmouth also directed the East India Company, which at one point ran half the world’s trade.  That’s a lot of trade.

Lord Tweedmouth was walking with his son when the first half of the Golden Retriever was acquired, a gold colored, wavy-haired dog who belonged to a cobbler.  How Tweedmouth got the dog I do not know, but Tweedmouth bought his whole estate from a drunken dinner party host who during the party slurred that he would sell his whole estate for X and Tweedmouth showed up the next day with X and held him to it, so I don’t imagine a golden dog was a big negotiation.  Three years later, Nous (the golden dog) was bred with Belle, and off you go.

The decision to get a dog is pure Ivy.  It checks all the boxes, if you do it right.  Dogs force thought – if by no other means than the exercise of training and walking them.  Dogs force dignity, there is no such thing as a good person who is bad to dogs.  Dogs force connection.  And discipline.  Dogs force aesthetic decisions that impact the every day.  If you don’t think so, don’t clean drool or the occasional accident.

My current dog is not a Golden, he is a British American Coonhound.   I got him by taking my daughter to a shelter on its last day, being recognized by a local news crew and agreeing to go on camera live to pitch getting a dog – during which my daughter ambushed me with Cisco, live on camera.  He’s another story.

Golden Retrievers are water dogs.  They have webbed feet, two coats of fur.  They have a higher pain tolerance than most dogs.  The Tweed Water Spaniel, or Golden Retriever origin story, is now extinct.   Golden Retrievers, NOT British American Coonhounds, clock in the loudest bark.  113 decibles.

Presidents Ford and Reagan and their respective Goldens.


I was born into the foster system then later adopted.  So was, I suppose, Missy.  She was my golden.  I am not one of those people who likes dogs better than people, but I am one of those people who likes them AS MUCH.   My childhood became “unusual” – as did Missy’s loyalty.  Missy was epileptic, and when she had seizures I was the only one that she would allow near her.  By the same token, when I melted down, she was the only one I wanted near me.   We slept side by side, sometimes indoors sometimes not, from the day I got her to the day she died.   My working theory is that my parents knew they were going to opt out of the parenting thing, and got me the dog.  I’m not saying that was a bad call, either.

Jackie Chan and his Goldens.


Are you one of those this-dog-rescued-me-not-the-other-way-around people?  I am not.  But I will say this.  There is a lot to learn from Golden Retrievers.  The most valuable lesson I learned is the value of just being there.  Not every problem is immediately solvable.  During my childhood Missy oftentimes got in between me and some danger.  But the most important thing Missy did was just lay, right by my side, when it was over.  Danger is inevitable.  Loyalty is not.  One is to be dealt with, the other is to be prized.

There are role models for Ivy.  Golden Retrievers are amongst them.  Thinking, loyal, funny, loving, hardworking.  And always looking good.

  • JB



1 Comment on "On Goldens."

  1. Starting a sentence with “And”??!!
    I suppose next you will write on the origins of two spaces after a period, justifying that ingrained typing style with stories of sadistic high school typing teachers with wrist smacking rulers.
    Wait, is that just might HS typing class experience?

    P.S. I prefer labs

    I know, right? I was spared the ruler, labs are also awesome. – JB

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