This is Finlay’s story, he was our first Golden Retriever puppy. Finlay has just turned 3 (May 2019).
One day in spring 2016 my husband came home from work and said one of his colleagues asked if he was interested in a Golden Retriever puppy. The ex-wife had a new litter of Golden Retriever puppies for sale and was looking for homes. He came home and asked me what I thought. It had been a long time since our Irish Setter Gambit had passed on and since then we had only had cats in the house.
I pondered the question, we discussed and a couple of days later I called the lady. Our discussion was odd, she did not instill much confidence in me. She was not a breeder, her dogs had just had fun and boom, litter of puppies. I called her back a day later and said we were not interested. However the seed had been planted. Wouldn’t a Golden Retriever puppy be a wonderful addition to the family.
When I was 15 we had a Golden Retriever puppy at home. His name was Koffee and I was his daily walking partner. I was sad when my parents gave him away, it was me that found him a home, he ended up with more yard space and a friend. Of course he is long gone now but he was wonderful.
Choosing Our Golden Retriever Puppy
The Golden Retriever puppy seed had been planted and while my husband is more a cat person he was open to the idea. So I went searching for Golden Retriever breeders near me and found one just over an hour away who had a litter of Golden Retriever puppies with a few left for sale. We made an appointment to go and see her and the pups and put down our deposit to secure our place in the picking order.
There was a choice of red collar or green collar. It was a very hot summer day and the pups were sleeping in the shade on cool concrete with a frozen water bottle to help them stay cool. On arrival Mr green collar carried on snoozing but Mr red collar was up and interested. I climbed into the pen and sat down with this monkey who was already tugging at my flip flops. I picked him up for a cuddle and that was that. Mr Red would be our new puppy.
Mr Red collar was the runt of the litter, he was small. His green collar brother was twice his size.
We went home to start getting ready for our new Golden Retriever puppy. Although we had some bowls left over, we opted to just start him off with a bang, all new stuff. At the time I did not love the idea of a crate. So we bought him a playpen which had plastic sides and a little door to walk through. We bought, collar, leash, toys, bed, everything he needed and his color was going to be red.
Bringing Mr Red Collar Home
Two weeks later it was time to collect our cute Golden Retriever puppy. I drove to the breeder alone during the work week. I had my son ready with water and a food bowl for when we arrived home as it was midday and I was not sure if they would give my Golden Retriever puppy his lunch.
After the guarantee papers were done, money handed it over it was time for the drive home. Not too far from home we hit traffic on the interstate and the slow down cause our pup to wake up. He started whining. I put my hand in to caress and he licked my fingers, almost frantically. I think he was thirsty but I was stuck in traffic in a work zone so could not stop.
We survived and made it home. I headed right into the yard, we have 2 acres, and he was thirsty and ravenous. The speed at which he ate told me he likely had not been getting enough Mommy milk. Over the next 4 weeks he ate a lot and grew like a weed!
Our Golden Puppy Needs a Name
We decided that our Golden Retriever puppy needed a name that went with his Scottish heritage. It did not take us long to find a name no-one we knew had, Finlay, registered name is Finaly Clan of Angus.
It suits him perfectly now, he’s got that Scottish strength and attitude. My father was Scottish and my maiden name was Scott, so it all seemed just right.
The First Few Weeks of Owning our Puppy
The first thing we did was take our puppy to our vets for a check up and booked his next round of shots. The vet confirmed he was a little small, she called him peanut! He literally sat in her lap and went to sleep while we talked.
I am a real estate broker and my job has me in and out of the house all the time. I had decided to take 6 months away and refer my clients to a colleague. Puppies need a lot of potty training, included night-time breaks. I wanted to get started the right way, not using puppy pads. So to start it was every 30 minutes unless he was asleep. This pup is smart. We only had 2 accidents in total. He soon learned to whine to go out.
The breeder gave us 3 days worth of food but I could not the brand locally so I switched him over to Blue Buffalo. His poop was not the best so it seemed a good idea. The vet had recommended feeding him 4 times a day and he woofed it all down. It was time to make up his lost food opportunities! By the time our next vet visit came he was much bigger and she was happier at his progress. He was finally on the chart!
However we were still having poop issues. The vet recommended putting him on brown rice and chicken for a while. It made no difference.
Gross Note: Finlay’s poop was runny and covered in mucus. I literally had to water it into the ground. There was no scooping this poop! If your puppy has the same, something is not right.
By now we had concluded our Golden Retriever puppy was allergic to chicken. All foods so far had been chicken based. So I headed off to the local pet store in search of another alternative. A store employee asked if she could help. Our irish Setter had lived until he was 15 and ate Iams all his life. So I had gravitated to that section. The employee suggested it was not the best choice as older brands were not as good in terms of dog food quality that the new brands. So we discussed inlay’s issue and she recommended a single protein limited ingredient brand. This was how we were introduced to Natural Balance Dog Food.
Being a large breed the best choice was lamb and brown rice large breed bites. He still eats this today and loves it. What’s better is the poop issues resolved over the 7 day gradual switch. Now I scooping, not watering poop. Awesome.
Note: If you need to change the food at anytime for your Golden Retriever puppy or dog, you should do it gradually, mixing small new with old and increasing new gradually over 7-10 days. This ensures you wont get tummy upsets.
Finlay is no longer allergic to chicken. He is still on Lamb and rice food but gets chicken treats. I guess it was a puppy issue he grew out of.
Finlay Goes to Training School
This little monkey started to get naughty. After his shots were complete I began to take him for walks up the country trails near our home. I am really not sure what happened but he started to play up like a toddler in defiance. Then he started nipping with those razor sharp teeth. In the end we could only move forward by my picking him up, carrying him for a while, putting him down and we could then move on. Every day we went walking and everyday he got worse. In the end I had to stop taking him.
He started guarding his food and once got hold of a tissue and would not give it up. I got a few teeth in my hand removing it but there was no way I was going to let him swallow it!
The behavior continued at home and I reached breaking point. He was now 4 months old. I decided to find a trainer near us and found a dog trainer with behavior expertise right on our home town. I made an appointment to see Mark and he showed me in 5 minutes what he could do with this pup. Essentially this dog was both a little nervous, exerted dominant behavior, and is very smart. So he was exerting his dominance over me and winning. I am now a total believer in packs and the pecking order.
Finlay spent the next 3 weeks with Mark all day long. He came home exhausted, mentally. He learned sit, down, heel, place and no. He learned he could not do anything unless he was released and that word is OK. There’s no need for the word stay.
After 3 weeks I went to take over the training, I was back at school! I felt stupid to begin with but I’ did get the hang of it. After a few sessions Finlay came home and I had to teach all our family as well. We had a further session at home to see how Finlay was doing. It felt awesome to have a trained Golden Retriever puppy at just under 6 months old.
Note: I thought my Golden Retriever puppy was aggressive but I now understand he was dominant. He still is with his brother and sister but the humans are the pack leaders.
Finaly Gets Fixed
Having learned how to control the training and behavior issues it was on to the next thing. At age 8 months we opted to have Finlay neutered. While it would not calm this crazy dog down it does remove the hormone aspect which can send them a little nutty while looking for mates. It’s a primal thing!
We had no intention of either breeding him or showing him.
I asked the vet about his age, was it too early?
Note: Having had 2 boys neutered around 8 months, I now wish I had not done that and waited until they were a year old. Both my boys have become a little leggy, all due to early neutering.
It was winter and the neutering part was easy. However he had to wear a collar to stop him pulling at the stitches. It was mid snowy winter and Finlay decided he would use the plastic collar as a snow scoop. The darn thing got so cold and brittle it kept breaking. We used duck tape, bought several new ones, more duck tape and around day 9 out of 14 gave up putting them on. He was told NO every time he considered having a nibble and soon understood it was the no go zone.
Our Golden Retriever puppy came from hunting stock. His fur is more wavy for swimming in water and not as long as the show breeds. Golden Retriever shedding is well known. Shorter fur or not, Finlay still needs a daily brushing and I still find dust bunnies in my kitchen! We soon learned this hunting dog loved chasing birds. He even caught a Woodpecker on the fly but my son was with him and we had already taught him the word drop, so he complied and let it go.
Finlay went through many indestructible toys. Unbeknown to use we played tug of war with him which for this dog, gave him the understanding he was pack leader every time we engaged and he won. We stopped this once Mark explained. While he chewed toys he only swallowed one, a cat mouse toy. He did that because we tried to remove it from him. Another behavior issue. He threw it back up! The rest he just nibbled. So we found toys more suitable and Finlay became obsessed by balls. We have a Chuck-it launcher and Chuck-it balls and this gives him plenty of outdoor exercise.
Finlay will hoard his balls between his legs and is reluctant to give them up. Chasing balls is his favorite pass-time. Inside we have more balls big and huge for him to play. Some last better than others.
Finlay Turns One
It’s May 23rd 2017 and Finlay turns one. This lucky boy is still a Golden Retriever puppy and won’t really be an adult until he’s 3. But he is well trained and has stolen my heart. He gets a doggie birthday cake and new toys. He was allowed to pose for his birthday photo. I keep telling him how handsome he is, I am biased.
This dog can still have his moments. He still wants to dominate, will bare his teeth and snarl a little if you do something he does not want right now. We consider Finaly has a complex mind, multi-layered. It’s what makes him such an interesting dog!
Finaly is now full grown. The perfect Golden Retriever weight for a male is between 65 and 75 lbs. This is what they call the breed standard. Finlay weighs 72lb and a recent vet checkup was given the perfect weight score. He is taller than the breed standard and I am convinced now that was early neutering because it interferes with bone plate growth regulated by hormones. However he’s my heart dog and I would not change him for the world.
Ou next Golden Retriever puppy story is when Fletcher arrives, he is Finlay’s brother.