1986-1997 > My first Golden Retriever was Sunny, also known as Papa dog after he fathered his first litter of pups. If Sunny was a human, he would have been a combination of Rhett Butler (of Gone with the wind fame) and Mister Rogers. This guy was balls-to-walls his whole life. Sunny loved living the Golden life. We got him as a pup when he was 16 weeks old, so he had developed a pretty dominate personality with only him and his injured brother left from the litter (poor brother dog broke his leg in a freak accident). Sunny was one of a kind for sure. Another very handsome male Golden.
About the time one normally considers doing the responsible thing and neutering a male dog, I met Chris Larson and his female Golden "Solo". She was an incredible girl; personable, playful and smart as a whip. Chris was taken with Sunny and it was agreed that we would breed them. It was a match made in heaven. Their pedigrees where very compatible and eventually they produced two beautiful litters. Toby, Cosmo and Ellie were from those litters. Sunny puppies as I describe them, but Toby and Cosmo were very much their mama dog, with Ellie being more like Sunny.
Being a stud dog, he was quite the trouble maker, but was kind and gentle to humans of all ages. Not being neutered until he was 6 years old instilled a dominant streak that would stay with him his whole life. It took me almost 2 years to convince him I was alpha. After that, he gladly accepted the #2 role (no matter who joined or left the pack). He was very protective of his pack and always kept a special eye on Kimmy. At 90 pounds, he made a good tackling dummy for Jake and other neighborhood kids.
Sunny and Cosmo (female from his second litter) lived together as companions for 6 years. Sunny was Cosmo’s rock, even though I wouldn’t go as far as to say Sunny was responsible for Cosmo being a gentle balanced dog. She pretty much came from the factory that way!
Sunny had a unique instinct to seek out, nuzzle and display affection to children with palsy, MS or autism. They always responded to him as he awakened something from deep inside each child. He was an incredible dog with amazing powers. Those who knew him still refer to him as “The King”. After 11 years, his picture is still on Jake, JoAnn, and Rich's refrigerator. He was the magic man and still holds that special place in my heart as the first Golden I raised from a pup. I learned a lot from that experience; developing my own dog whispering skills that would result in the perfect pair of Goldens ever - Cosmo and Devo. Thank you Sunny, couldn't of done it without you.
Sunny was the only dog I've ever had that would let you dress him up in anything.