Lush, All Grown Up

This weekend I went up to the dog shows at the Eastern States Exposition. There's a huge set of conformation shows and also a ton of agility and obedience competition. I went up partly to enjoy the dog shows and to take some notes on agility, but I also went up because Jill's Lush was doing so well in conformation.

I was already making a "brag" ad for Lush to run in the Golden Retriever News since she got her Championship and her Grand Championship at a very young age, so it was nice to see her shown in person.

Jill and I also went to our old standby, West Thompson, for a hike after the shows. I didn't get any particularly good pictures of the six dogs (Finn, Tally, Copley, Lush, Comet, and Jax) while we were hiking, but I did get a nice one of my boys because I got to the trailhead ahead of Jill and had a moment to take a couple of pictures of two dogs who really, really didn't want to wait to start the hike.

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PoeticGold Farm

On a more pleasant afternoon during my trip to Maine, I paid a visit to my old friend Jill’s brand new farm. It has a lovely barn to house classes for her new dog training school, and the house sits smack in the middle of a beautiful meadow that goes all the way down to a river.

Needless to say, it’s a paradise for Golden Retrievers. I was sad not to have Comet and Jax along for this trip, since they would have fit right into the golden whirlwind of Jill’s beautiful dogs.
She and I spent a few minutes calling the dogs back and forth across the meadow in the setting sun since they just look so good tearing through the flowers.

Finny (left) is closer to nine than eight, but he’s still got all the crazy enthusiasm of Copley (right).
Jill’s business is called PoeticGold Farm, and she offers dog training and photography, so check out the website if you live in the area and need artful, positive dog training. You can also check out her photo galleries on the Facebook page, even if you don’t live close enough to train with her.

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West Thompson Again

This entry closes out the year, and I’m left in the awkward position of feeling a need to look back. We’ve moved to a new town, and I’ve started substituting 5K runs for some of my dogwalks, so there have been noticeably fewer photos this fall. I took some of the best bird pictures I’ve ever gotten, and I still look back wistfully at photos of the time Ojo spent with us.

This last photographed walk of the year was up at West Thompson with Jill and her pups. This is the sit-stay photo we always try to take before we leave.

By the way, in terms of looking back, Copley (far left) has grown quite a bit. You can go back for a reminder of how teeny he was only 11 months ago.

Lots of non-dog, non-bird things happened this year, but this blog has really become my venue for writing about photos, so there’s a large, unphotographed portion of our lives that I don’t talk about here. I wonder how many folks think I just go for dogwalks every day and then to bed. I have a job, though you wouldn’t know it.

Actually, that part of my life has its own blog too.

Every time we walk with Jill’s dogs, I can’t help but be jealous at Finn’s graceful aging, or, more accurately, utter failure to age anywhere but in his lightening fur.

He’s still a lightning puppy, particularly when a ball crosses his path. I can’t help but wish I still had his white-faced brother by my side too.

Comet really needs to model dog clothes. He doesn’t wear clothes, beyond a collar, since his coat is already all-weather, wash-and-wear, and suitable for all occasions.

One of my favorite things about his looks is how little maintenance it requires. Many show Goldens are brushed out daily, washed a couple of times a week, and trimmed or “neatened” all over. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but Comet looks really good without a haircut, which to me better embodies the spirit of a working dog.

I just love the way they change color in the light. I may call them my red dogs sometimes, but they’re undeniably gold, gold, gold.

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Sort of a Dog Flotilla

In what has become a little bit of a regular habit, we met Jill at West Thompson again, and this time, we were joined by not just Jill’s four, but three others who belong to friends of Jill, for a grand total of nine dogs, seven of whom are Golden Retrievers.

In no particular order:
Jax, Golden Retriever
Comet, Golden Retriever
Copley, Golden Retriever
Tango, Golden Retriever
Tally, Golden Retriever
Finn, Golden Retriever
Rumford, Golden Retriever
Yuki, Boxer
Leo, Portuguese Water Dog

This time, Tango was able to come along, and given how driven she is, it’s impressive that Jax was able to keep this stick away from her for as long as he did.

Finn, now seven, races around with the younger dogs. Sometimes he moves so quickly and smoothly that he barely looks like he touches the ground. And, sometimes, he really doesn’t touch the ground.

Sticks were definitely the toy du jour, and Leo the PWD more than held his own.

It was really a digital camera day, with perfect sun and a combination of dogs and action that was—not mathematically, but for all intents and purposes—infinite.

Jax isn’t a big dog, but he does everything with as much height as possible. He’s always springing and leaping about, and if he notices friends a few hundred feet away playing with a stick, the first thing he’ll do is rear up and get a better look before he puts on the afterburners.

Young Copley is growing up, but he’s still in the prime of puppyhood, which means zoomies are a key part of his experience on a walk. He’s at the age when total discombobulation is a common occurrence. Copley is a lot less awkward than a typical puppy just shy of five months, but he can still look pretty silly sometimes.

Rumford’s also in that gangly adolescent stage, and just as prone to zooming about like a crazed animal. Rummy also had his first real swim on this walk. It’s always a joy to watch a young dog go from deep apprehension about the water to an abiding love for it.

Tally was more than happy to show the young dogs how it’s done. One of many fun things about Tally is that he nearly always looks like he’s leaping off the page of an L. L. Bean catalog.

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Good Copley, Bad Copley

Our friend Jill has just welcomed a new addition to her family of dogs. This young sprite goes by the name of Copley (Chantilly’s Bright Lights Big City). If you’re having trouble pronouncing that in your mind’s ear, as I initially did, it’s cop as in officer, not cope as in deal-with-difficulties.

Like all Golden Retriever puppies, show prospects or otherwise, he’s unbearably adorable.

We got a chance to meet him when Jill came down to West Thompson Lake and all three humans and five dogs went for a walk.

Of course, Finn, our old friend, was along for the ride. The contrast between his white face and his youthful gait defines nearly every picture of him, and here that contrast is startlingly evident.

He’s in a full gallop, with only one foot touching the ground, yet he’s totally level, smooth, and almost relaxed. Even in middle age, Finn just glides around like he’s not quite subject to gravity or time.

Jax, despite sharing plenty of DNA with his uncle, hasn’t yet developed that elegance and efficiency. He’s still a galloping, snow-spraying, discombobulated, utterly joyful mess, especially when he’s coming in on a recall, which we teach as a fun game that’s reinforced with affection, sporadic food rewards, and occasionally a race with one of the humans.

That sense of impending fun makes his gait on the recall a little more exuberant and a lot less elegant than when he’s simply moving around from smell to smell.

Despite being an extremely mellow guy, Copley can romp with the big dogs. He’s remarkably unflappable, even for a Golden puppy, and he’s put together very, very well. Since he’s so young, we carried him for much of the walk, but he did get the occasional opportunity to sniff around and play with the other dogs.

I titled the entry “Good Copley, Bad Copley” solely because of my love for terrible puns. Copley himself was a very, very good dog for the entire walk, except for a quickly interrupted attempt to carry a rock around.

At the end of the walk, there’s an old stone wall that Jill often poses the dogs on. We got the four older dogs up there, and Andy put Copley on the wall and ducked behind it. Copley wasn’t the slightest big cooperative about posing, but we did get a five-dog portrait of sorts.

From left to right, it’s Finn, Tally, Ajax, Copley, and Comet.

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