Sugar from my baby


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Just in case you were wondering where he went… here’s Oliver! As you can imagine, in my time of need he’s got lots of love to give. There are moments between treatments when I’m beat and just need to hunker down for a nap, and whaddya know, Oliver is quite content to hop up at the end of the sofa to join me. And then there are the times he just wants to give kisses and hugs. We had heard stories about when he got close to turning two years of age of how he would all of a sudden mellow out… well, that seems to be true.

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Almost overnight it seems, in many ways he became this chilled more mature dog, and gone are some of the crazy puppy behaviors. He still gets very excited when greeting people (something we are working on), but other than that, we can definitely notice a calmness to his demeanor that just wasn’t there before. Perhaps he senses what’s going on within the house, or maybe it’s just true what they say about him transitioning from puppy to dog… either way, he is an absolute dream of a family companion and brings us so much joy. Here’s a rare one of me in front of the camera – this time getting lots of sugar from my baby.

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Why not..?


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Is it possible to update Oliver’s condition too often? Forgive me if I’m being overly zealous with his recovery pics, but I just wanted to keep you all up to date. Top pic has a touch of Instagram applied.

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*As a loyal reader, please don’t feel as though you need to leave a comment every time I make a blog post. I just want to provide a quick note about my little friend’s condition. Though he does look a little sleepy, trust me… he’s doing awesome!

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Home safe and sound….



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Here he is morning after. Perky and looking more like his old self. Just have to keep him settled and quiet now.

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Here he is… home safe and sound – minus a couple of important bits. As you can imagine, Oliver’s not quite himself right about now, but the doc assures us that everything went well and that he’ll be back to his old self within about a week. The vet-recommended boxers are to try and keep him away from the stitches and the incision, and although it pains me to see him this way, when we take into account everything going on in our lives right now… I just know we did the right thing. Welcome home sweet Oliver, and I just know he appreciates all of your good wishes.

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The day has come…


3-16-13 Oliver7I knew this day would come, and I knew it was going to be difficult. Oliver just turned 18 months, and what with everything swirling around here of late, we kind of dropped the ball when it comes to getting him “fixed”. A few months back, I discussed the pros and cons – according to a layman like me – to having this operation completed, so if it’s all right with you my loyal readers, this time around I’d rather not re-visit why it’s a barbaric and unnecessary procedure. Let’s just accept that it’s going to happen and move on – thanks for understanding.

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We’re getting Oliver fixed on Wednesday morning. Though sad about actually doing it – I don’t want to put my baby through any unnecessary discomfort – we’re doing it for the following reasons… it is convenient, and besides, when we purchased him from the breeder we signed a contract saying that we would. There are a similar amount of health-related concerns on either side of getting this procedure completed at an early or later stage, but most importantly, I believe that by giving Oliver the 18 months that we did to grow into his body he was able to take full advantage of the natural hormonal development over that time… he has derived more benefit from NOT being snipped at an early age and denied of so many natural body chemicals – he has grown into a healthy, happy and incredibly stable young dog. He’ll also get micro-chipped in case he hates us for it and decides to run away 😉

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I don’t want Oliver to breed unnecessarily, and although in all likelihood he would never get the chance to roam free and do anything unexpected… you just never know. Better safe than sorry in that regard, and as a family we’re all for responsible pet owning.

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Here’s the convenience piece… we’re realizing that over the next few weeks and months we are going to need to temporarily house our little friend for a day or two here and there… maybe even an overnight stay. Doctor visits and other commitments are starting to fill the calendar, and although to date we have been able to work around every circumstance, the day is coming when an extended event will definitely mean needing to board Oliver.

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We have an awesome boarding kennel lined up, but they are understandably reluctant to have dogs – even if all males – co-habitate if some are fixed, while others aren’t. There’s a significant chance that our little currently un-fixed guy will be the one trying to “hump” other dogs – and while that’s perfectly natural behavior – apparently it can make for a more heightened and less tranquil atmosphere within the group, and we wouldn’t want that to happen.

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And besides, one of the things we’re especially hoping to get from the boarding experience is a positive social interaction for Oliver. His demeanor is such that he just wants to play… with anyone, anytime, anywhere. He’s a happy dog who will get along with all others… perfectly. However, if he’s humping (and there’s no guarantee fixing will prevent that), then the possibility of a mellow co-existence within his fellow boarders might become a little unbalanced, and if the alternative is some form of isolation for the humper… well, then that’s not what we want.


Anyhoo… Wednesday is the big day. We’ve cleared the decks so that we’ll be here to care for him after the event and give all the love he needs. We’ll make sure he gets as much peace and quiet, medicine, and of course, love, so that he can make as full a recovery as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Oliver will once again amaze and be the model patient, but it still makes me sad that we have to put him through this process. Wish him luck 😉

Want some cuteness?


Oliver, about a week after he came into our lives

Up until just over a year ago, I never considered myself a dog person. In fact, for most of my life, I would literally cross to the other side of the street to avoid interacting with dogs. It just wasn’t my thing, and I never understood why dog “owners” made the fuss they did. It was just a dog, right? That all changed though when Oliver came into our lives. Pre-Oliver, I’d only ever really known three dogs… Prince, Sheeba and an evil little black Scottie who lived three doors down from where I grew up. It’s no secret that I’m now kinda partial to my cute baby boy. Speaking of cuteness, if you’d like to see adorable, check out The Sundog Drift… there’s an extra 9 doses of golden cuteness over there right now, and over at Tamarack Goldens there are 7 more 🙂

Enough of the landscape stuff…


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Heeeeeere’s Oliver! It was so cold when we walked the golf course on Sunday, the shutter button on my camera literally froze. Seriously. Before it did though, I managed a few snaps of my baby boy. He’s already 16 months old, though in these photographs I can still see glimpses of the cute little puppy we brought home just over a year ago. He amazes me every single day with the amount of joy and affection he has to offer, and I wonder just what we did to deserve such unconditional love. The least I can do in return is take him to the golf course and let him run off his leash. Like most dogs, he loves tennis balls and sticks… give him either, and he’s one happy boy!

For those interested in the semi-technical stuff… Canon 5D II in A1 Servo mode with a 70-200mm f4 lens mostly at 200mm. The camera finds dealing with the snow quite challenging – it usually tries to tone the brightness down and leaves a darker than normal image – so I intentionally set the camera to overexpose by half a stop to ensure a more accurate exposure. I bumped the iso to 200, and chose a shutter speed of at least 1/500th second (fast enough to freeze even the quickest Golden Retriever). Then it’s just a matter of throwing the stick or tennis ball, and when he fetches and eagerly runs back toward me so I can repeat the process, I position myself down on one knee at his eye level and snap away.

Every now and then I get a good one 😉

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Hitting a milestone


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Oliver entered our lives just over a year ago, and his arrival coincided with me finally joining the 21st century and getting an iPhone. It didn’t take me long to discover the Nike Running app – not for running I might add – but for measuring our daily walks together. As you can see from the screenshot above, my little friend and I have covered some serious ground over the past year. Twenty pounds lighter and probably considerably healthier, I’m looking forward to our next one thousand miles together!


Birthday Boy


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One year ago today, this kind and gentle little soul was born. At that point, we hadn’t even thought about bringing a dog into our lives, but that all changed as November rolled around and as a family we started talking about what it would be like to have a dog. We weighed the pros and cons, and we discussed the impact that caring for another animal would have on what we do – and once the decision was made, things moved fast. Within a week of deciding it would be a good idea, we found and fell in love with Oliver, and as they say… the rest is history. Just as we remark about how fast our “real” kids grow up, I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by with Oliver – it really does seems like yesterday that we were driving to Jay, Maine to meet him for the first time and bring him home. Little did we know how much our lives would change, and I don’t think any of us were prepared for how much joy and happiness this little guy would bring to our family. Happy birthday Oliver!

What I do in my spare time…


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Lay on the kitchen floor and take photographs of a sleepy Oliver of course! The air conditioner squeezed into the kitchen window has seen way more use this summer than in past years. Pre-Oliver, we would probably have turned it on maybe 3 or 4 times throughout the entire summer – and only when the mercury climbed upwards of 90 degrees – but this season it has been churning out the cool air pretty constantly. After all, we’ve gotta keep this fur-coat-wearing-handsome-boy cool, right? He loves to sprawl out on the chilled wooden floor, and while he’s enjoying an air-conditioned snooze, I can’t help but use my iPhone camera to snap a few pics…

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Yay… a backlit dog :)


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From an early morning walk… the sun had just come up behind Oliver, and although as photographers we’re often told to keep the sun to our back and not to shoot into it, I love how my baby was silhouetted against the early light. Never be afraid to try new things… break the “rules”… who knows, you might like the results.



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We have puppy-proofed the whole of the downstairs, and we use a baby gate to keep him from wandering where he’s not supposed to go. Oliver isn’t allowed upstairs yet, but lately he’s been more and more curious about where it is that we go when we close the gate behind us at night. Our biggest concern with allowing him upstairs is all of Jack’s toys, especially the piles of Lego, strewn all over his bedroom floor. Probably like most dogs his age, Oliver hasn’t met a sock, sneaker, or stray piece of clothing that he doesn’t want to chew, so that’s another reason to corral him downstairs.

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Though we did the whole crate-training thing, he doesn’t sleep in his crate at night any more… we let him have the run of the downstairs (except for the living room), and to date we haven’t had any problems… he’s a good sleeper. Still, we sometimes feel bad about leaving him downstairs on his own at night, so we have a family sleepover in the living room every other weekend. I think he truly appreciates us being close to him, he sleeps through the night like a champ, and he is incredibly well-behaved as he cuddles in beside us in our sleeping bags.

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Taking a break from Acadia… Oliver update


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He’s almost a year old already… I can hardly believe how fast the first year with Oliver has flown by. September 24 will be his birthday, and although people told us that he would probably chill out by the time he gets to around two years of age, methinks he’s not too far from there already. For such a young dog, he really is pretty mellow, and he has the sweetest of demeanors around people. He loves to be in the room with us… he doesn’t have to be right next to us, just in the same room, or in the hall where he can open one eye and make sure we’re still there. He’s still enjoying his early morning walks to the golf course, and whenever possible, we hit the links again in the evening for another run. All that fresh air takes a toll on him though, and these pics are pretty much par for the course when we’re back at home.

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Take a walk with Oliver…


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From a few weeks back… here’s a little glimpse of the walk Oliver and I make every morning. Using the Nike app on my iPhone, I’m able to track – among other things – where and how far we walked, how long we walked for, and how many calories I burned – trust me, Oliver burns waaaaaay more calories than I do as he cavorts all across the golf course in search of good things to sniff and chew. The little red patches on our trail are where we slowed down – to leash and un-leash – and also probably where I stopped to make these photographs. We got a later than usual start on this particular morning – normally we’re out the door by 5:30am – but we still had the course all to ourselves.

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We’re only about a quarter of a mile from the golf course, and when we make a hard right turn to enter the property, we walk through what is probably one of my favorite parts. A winding path covered in tree roots and pine needles meanders through a stand of tall, majestic trees that remind me of the black oaks out west in Yosemite, and when we come out on the other side, we’re greeted by the pretty scene below. Not a bad way to start the morning…

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We’ll walk up and down the fairways, sometimes looping back around to re-explore particularly interesting areas of longer grass, and as you might imagine, like most dogs, Oliver loves to chase the tennis ball. I’ll throw it, he’ll chase it, and no matter how fast he’s traveling, he’ll always – almost comically – roll over as he snags the ball. He gets a treat, and we do it all again… and again… and again. This of course gets him soaking wet from rolling in the morning dew, though during the summer months with warmer temperatures, that isn’t such a bad thing since he gets to cool off.

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There’s a sweet little overgrown cut-through between a couple of holes on the back nine that Oliver and I like to think no-one else uses but us. It’s our secret path, and since he’s a creature of habit, he always runs ahead of me to lead the way. He’s 10 months old today, and just recently he learned how to do some things that the big dogs do. It’s been funny to watch as he experiments with lifting his back leg… as he teeters precariously on three legs, I’m surprised he hasn’t completely fallen over yet! I bet there aren’t many blogs with photographs of their dogs pee-ing, eh?

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I know I’m biased, but isn’t he a handsome dog? He seems to have lost a little bit of the puppiness to his shape, and he looks leaner now than he did maybe even a month ago. About two thirds of the way into our walk, he starts to slow down, and instead of chasing up and down and back and forth across the fairways, he sticks closer to my side, usually breathing pretty heavily. By now we’ll have been walking (running for him) for about 45 minutes, so he likes to take what I consider to be a well-deserved rest. Throughout our walk, we’ll stop off at the water coolers located at every third or fourth tee box to enjoy a drink, so he stays well hydrated. By the time we get back home and up onto the front porch, he’ll be pretty much out of gas. Gassed… but very happy.

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In his element


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Have I mentioned that Oliver loves to visit the golf course? After having the place pretty much to ourselves throughout the winter, I was a little concerned about how much access we might have during the summer months when the course is in season. I needn’t have worried… other than the maintenance crew at 5:30am every morning, we never see a soul. In the evening (when these photographs were made), we’re good as long as we wait until about an hour before sunset. That way, anyone playing later in the day has already tee-ed off and we can enjoy the front nine as we wander the first few holes. Isn’t he turning out to be a handsome boy!

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Ocean Boy


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Oliver recently had his first real dip in the ocean. I say “real” dip, cos a few months back he tippy-toed into the water at Sand Beach, but that didn’t really count. I can hardly blame him for being so wary of the water that time… the February ocean temperature had to be pretty frigid, and the decent sized waves weren’t something he was familiar with. This time though, he marched right in and lay down on about 6 inches of clear, still, and sparkling water.

We visited the Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park down past Brooksville and Penobscot, and on the day we explored the grounds, we had it all to ourselves. The sign said that dogs had to be on their leash at all times, but after wandering the beach for about half an hour and seeing literally no-one, we figured what they hey, and we let him loose. He never goes far when we do let him off, and besides, he had his new found paddling pool to play in and keep his attention, so we had nothing to worry about.

We’ve heard stories of how Golden Retrievers are natural swimmers, and although we’ve yet to see him actually swim, there’s no doubt that he loves being in the water. Still a baby – he turned 9 months on June 24 – he would wade out just far enough to have the water come up to his belly, but he wasn’t that keen on going much further. We would throw his tennis ball and he’d gladly retrieve it so the process could be repeated, but that one last throw which went a little further requiring him to swim to fetch it… well, that meant the tennis ball was lost to the receding tide. He had a grand time prancing around in the shallow water, watching Jack do some crab-fishing, and staying cool on what was another gorgeous summer day in Maine.

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Dog pix


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Handsome boy


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Nuff said. These photographs of Oliver were made on a couple of recent evening walks on the local golf course. We usually head down to the course just before sunset, that way the golfers are either already finished playing or they’re making their way up the last couple of holes. The first and last show him right about the time he decided that he’d chased the tennis ball enough.

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The cool, damp grass of the fairway must have felt awfully good to him, and in the waning twilight, the warm colors of his beautiful golden coat really popped. He recently paid a visit to the spa, and when I picked him up after his haircut and shampoo, I couldn’t believe how much he looked like a puppy again. In the photograph below, the sun had already gone down, and as the day started to cool off and transition to night, the remaining light bathed him in a subtle and quite lovely glow. Oliver… our handsome boy!

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Woof… woof!


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Here he is… the awesomest dog on the planet! We just had part of our back yard fenced in so Oliver can have the freedom to roam a little while still staying safe. Up until this point, anytime he went outside it was always on the leash, and unfortunately for him, there was always a human on the other end dictating where he went. Like most families, we spend a lot of time in the back yard, especially in the summer months, and we weren’t comfortable letting Oliver loose back there without any way of keeping tabs on his whereabouts. We don’t intend to leave him out there on his own… but we wanted him to be able to wander around back there when we’re out too – within reason. So, we invested in a 4 ft high, pretty, wooden picket fence, and now we can all spend time in the back yard again sans leashes or worries about someone running off to greet a neighbor. We also had a gate with a tightly wound spring installed… that way if anyone forgets to close the gate – or leaves it open momentarily – it will automatically close and keep Oliver safely protected in the confines of the back yard. These photographs of course aren’t from our back yard… they’re from this spring and another early morning spent wandering the local golf course.

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Morning Frost II


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Actually, this one should be titled Morning Fog. Acting on Tony’s suggestion to return to this location in different seasons and different conditions, I took a look at the tree I photographed previously on a frosty morning. This time the grass is already greener, some of the leaves have bloomed, there’s a beautiful foggy backdrop, and if you look closely, you’ll see a good friend of mine doing his thing and enjoying the wet grass.

Oliver update


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Oliver just turned 7 months of age, so I figured it was time to provide a little update on his progress. These are from a recent late April frosty morning walk on the golf course. Now that the snow is gone, we have to get out before the golfers get going, so most of our visits begin even before the sun comes up. Gone are the days of riding to the course in the car… now we walk there like a big boy, and he just loves when I unclip his leash and let him run. He’s a solid 60 lbs now, and he’s a stocky little thing. I’m not sure how tall he is going to get, but that’s OK… we love him just how he is. He looks redder in these photographs than he really is… the early light did a number on the color of his coat, but he’s more of a lighter, blonde color in reality. By now the familiar snow cover is long gone, and we’re enjoying exploring all the fresh and wonderfully wet smells of spring. He does a super job of coming when called, and when it comes to walking beside me on the leash… he’s a champ. He walks ever so politely, and is an absolute joy to spend time with. I use the Nike app on my iPhone to track our walks, and we’re routinely knocking out walks of 3+ miles twice per day. He and I walk together in the morning, and we’ve been doing family walks in the evening. As an added bonus, I call him my diet dog 🙂

PS. May the fourth be with you!

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