The Story of My First Golden

The Story of My First Golden

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This is the story of how my first golden retriever puppy came into my life. Sixteen years ago today those big brown eyes came into my world and it hasn’t been the same since.

The story begins in the winter of 1991. Mom and I already had Mikey, one family furball that was “mysteriously” dropped on our doorstep a couple of years earlier. She swore NO MORE DOGS! But she couldn’t say no to temporarily housing Baby, my sister’s beagle mut mix. My sister told us she had gotten Baby spade. So when mom and I asked my sister to housesit for us when we went to Minnesota for a Christmas vacation, we didn’t have any reason to worry about Baby getting out.

About two months later we had reason to worry. Baby was starting to look like a watermelon and her nipples were swelling. “Mom,” I said, “I think Baby maybe full of babies.”We took her to the vet and indeed, she was pregnant. The vet thought the litter was only three or four pups, but I knew better. In her “third trimester,” if you will, I could visibly count more than four pups rolling around in Baby’s womb.

Sure enough, on March 17, 1992, Baby gave birth to seven golden retriever mix puppies. We wondered who the father was, but it was too early to tell based on the pups. Within a few weeks of growing, and some deductive reasoning, we figured the daddy dog must have been the neighborhood golden retriever we would see lumbering up and down our street.

I Helped Him Be Born

Ernie was the runt of the litter. Baby was so exhausted by the time he came along, she looked up at me as if to say, “Please help!” Out he came in this ooey-gooey sack that I had to scoop up to near Baby’s face so she could clean him off. I was so scared he wouldn’t start breathing. But with her tongue lapping up against him with vigor and love, he rallied, yawning, stretching, and squeaking.

All the puppies were hungry. And Baby was tired. I helped get her and the pups on some dry bedding. She sprawled out and I lined up the three girls and four boys in a row, seven little piggies happily eating. Unfortunately Baby only had about five or six nipples that were easily accessible. So, many times I had to pull off one of the bigger pups and put Ernie in their place. As the runt, I was always looking out for him. And I have been doing the same ever since. He moved with me to college, then across the country to Minnesota and back again.

When he grew into full size, he looked like a mini golden retriever. He had the temperament of one too. Although sometimes he could be barky like a beagle.

About six years ago, when I realized I wanted to move to Wisconsin, I knew it wouldn’t be fair to bring Ernie with me. At middle age, he needed the safety and comfort that only my mom’s home could provide. It was a hard decision, but I knew it was best for him.

Ernie Returns To Me

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But even though Mom was his Fairy-God-Mother, I have always been his Doggie Mommy. I think it was a connection that was established the moment he was born. Before I ever even knew my Mom was sick, I said to Drew, “You know, if anything ever happens to Mom I want Ernie and Reggie to come and live with us.” So when that surreal and unbelievably sad moment happened, it was a discussion we never even had to have. I will always be so grateful to Drew for opening his heart and home to two animals he hardly knew.

These days, Ernie spends a majority of his time enjoying his power naps. But when he isn’t sleeping he loves being in our backyard soaking up some California rays; going on walks with our dog walker, Lisa; and sometimes, when he is really feeling feisty, he plays ball. It’s pricesless to see him bounding across the lawn in the bouncy, uncoordinated “Doofey” way that he has. I often wonder what Ernie is thinking. What would he say if he could talk? I know there are many days I talk to him as if he understands what I am saying. I hope he would say that he is happy, safe, and very much loved.

Happy Birthday Ernie-Doof. You’re a good boy.

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