Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cosmo enters Sunny's life

The first six years of our life as owners of a pair of Goldens (1991 to 1997) .... Sunny and his (our) baby girl Cosmo. They were a terrific team, Sunny as the protector and guiding light, Cosmo as the child prodigy and ying to his yang. Sadie#2 was now living with Grambo (Andi's Mom) and Ellie had been adopted by Chad and Kathleen, so Ken, Andi and the two Goldies found their way to perfect pack harmony over the next six years. We lived in Bellevue, had a nice backyard, the best dog sitter in the world (our neighbor Walta) and took the dogs EVERYWHERE.

So many stories, far too many to tell them all, but here are a few of my favorites:
> The off-leash park at Luther Burbank on Mercer Island was one of our favorite spots. It had a large lakefront access for the dogs to swim. Cosmo was a retrieving machine, swimming out as far as I could throw the dummy and bringing it back no matter what was in the way. Sunny would swim in circles about 20 yards out, biting the waves and sharking anything thrown by other owners for their dogs. After awhile he would decide he wanted to chase the long ones, so I'd have to hold Cosmo so he could retrieve. If I didn't, she would leave him in the dust. I never saw another dog of any breed out swim her.
> They loved to hang out in the back of the pick-up no matter where we would go. We'd NEVER have to worry about them jumping out and running off. If we were in sight, the whole back would be open, close by, the top window would be open and if we were gone inside for something, we'd lock them in. We used to test them once in awhile by having a friendly stranger try to coax them out. They never succeeded in prying them loose. Sunny was so friendly, he would lean forward and his momentum would take him out, but he always turned around and jumped back in. They just knew where they belonged.

> As the day got longer our walks would take us down to a large grade school/middle school complex. As the two Goldies went sniffing and exploring, I would steal off and hide. Andi would alert the dogs I was missing and send them to look for me. Oh they loved this game. We called it "ditch-em" and it really taught them that when they were off-leash they were always to keep an eye on Dad. It would eventually save their lives.

Ellie and Cosmo

Cosmo, Sunny and Ellie - Ellie spent about 4 months with us before she went with Chad and Kathleen.

In April of 1991, Sunny and Solo produced another litter of 12 Golden pups. As owner of the stud, we took two females. I wanted to keep one and my sister wanted the other one. During the selection process, we went to visit the puppies many time. One particular female would always come over and crawl on my lap. It was Cosmo and she went home with us to be our third dog and first Sunny puppy. Andi picked out Ellie as the chosen one to be sent to my sister.

Ellie and Cosmo 6 weeks old
They were also know as Spike and Snowball before they had their real names

The only photo of both girls with their Papa dog when they were puppies

We kept the girls together until they were 16 weeks old. It was very emotional for Andi to send Ellie away, even though we always knew that was her fate. Cosmo settled in with us and became Sadie #2's worst nightmare and Sunny's lifetime companion. Even though all puppies are bratty (Cosmo was no exception), she was amazingly easy to train and break of any undesirable behavior. She loved all humans and went out of her way to greet everyone with a kiss and those big brown eyes. (More about Cosmo on the "Remembering Devo" blog.

Ellie and Cosmo 10 years old

We eventually got Ellie back after a year. Since Sadie#2 was now with Andi's Mom, Ellie became our third Golden. As much as we adored Ellie, I’m here to tell you that 3 dogs in the city are many magnitudes more work than 2 (especially since they were related to Sunny!). We were thrilled to death when our friends Chad and Kathleen asked about adopting Ellie. We quickly agreed and Ellie lived out the rest of her wonderful life with Chad and Kathleen and received just as much unconditional love as she gave.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Mr. Toby was my brother Chip's sweet boy from Sunny and Solo's first litter (1989). I took one male puppy because some well meaning friends thought they needed a dog. Three months after he arrived, these friends got a divorce and I took Toby back (happily). We already had two dogs (Sunny and Sadie#2) and my brother had always wanted a Golden, so Toby went to Phoenix. Chip now had a Golden of his own (after growing up with Sadie#1). He did a wonderful job raising Toby and I can't thank him enough for giving Toby a perfect forever home.

Everybody adored Toby. He was very sweet like Solo and gregarious like Sunny. Loved to retrieve, please his pack and snuggle whenever the opportunity presented itself. He got along with every dog he ever met, no matter how socially retarded they were. The picture taken by the fire at the Oregon beach house in the summer of 2002 was the last time I saw him. He had a big dog-day and I'll never forget how much he loved it there.

Sadie #2

1988-2002 > Sadie came to us from our good friend Don Luxmore. His Golden Retriever “Lady” had a litter of pups, but the neighborhood black Lab was the first to jump the fence. Sadie was a sporting dog mix, but didn’t swim or retrieve! Sunny needed a companion and Sadie filled the bill, he didn’t care whether she retrieved or not. Sunny just adored her, but 3 years later, after bringing Cosmo into the pack, it was obvious Sadie would do much better as an only dog. Andi’s Mom jumped at the chance to adopt her, so Sadie stayed in the family. It was a match made in heaven. She was a great companion and alarm dog for Grambo who lived alone in Everett. It was really special because we could see her all the time and she was always part of the pack whenever we’d get together.

Kimmy brought Sadie home on her lap when she was a pup. From then on they had a special bond. Even when Kimmy was far away, she always asked about her Sadie. Oh yea, Sadie was named after Sadie #1 who had just died a month before we brought the little white bundle home.


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.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sadie the first

This is Sadie, the Golden Retriever that started our love for the breed. She was a big, goofy, happy-go-lucky girl. Completely uninhibited and undisciplined! She belonged to my parents who still lived in Phoenix and was my little brother Chip's first REAL dog. There are three stories that come to mind whenever I think of Sadie.

One Thanksgiving after dinner the remaining turkey sat up on the stove overnight to be used for soup stock the next day. During the night, Sadie somehow climbed up, pulled the turkey down and gobbled the remaining meat and left only the bones. Here's the best part; the 4'x4' grease spot that remained in the middle of the carpet where she dragged it to be devoured. She figured she might as well be comfortable during her Thanksgiving meal!

Sadie would go up to the playground with the kids, climb up the steps on the slide and slide down, just like the rest of the kids. One time she landed on her tail and broke it. That was the last time she was allowed to copy all the kids.

During a day trip to Prescott, Sadie was off exploring while my Dad and I worked on a project on the acre of land he owned. Next thing you know, here she comes with a whole face full of Porky pine quills!! Poor baby, we sat with pliers and pulled every one of them out of her face and muzzle. She never made a peep or squirmed in protest.

Like all Goldens I have know, Sadie was a gentle soul and loved kids most of all. She is the reason that Chip and I never want to be without a Golden in our life.

Old Sadie#1 with Kim and Valerie
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