Guest Post by: Linda Ladaga
My whole life, I’ve been a dog lover. My parents never let me have one though; they said dogs were too much work. So, when I went away to college, I knew that I had to have a dog. I also knew that I had no clue how to take care one.
So, I joined a program called the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. They taught me how to raise puppies that would become seeing eye dogs for those with vision impairments.
Phyllis An 8 Week Old Golden Retriever-Yellow Lab Puppy
Shortly after my training had ended, I received my very first 8-week-old puppy, Phyllis. No, I did not get to pick the name (although I do love The Office). Phyllis is a golden retriever-yellow lab mix and could not be any cuter. I fell in love with her instantly.
Day 1 with Phyllis
I quickly found out that my parents had been lying to me my entire life – puppies are a lot of work, but that is the fun in raising them! The best part about Phyllis was that she was a certified service dog. That meant she had to wear her cute yellow “dog in training” vest and follow me to class, restaurants, sporting events, movie theaters, and more.
We attended monthly training programs together so that the program could monitor her progress. She was so smart, independent and strong. She had a will of her own. 15 months passed quickly and it was time for Phyllis to head to New York for her professional training. If she passed, it was off to live with someone who has vision impairments.
Phyllis and her brother Duke, the day before heading up to NY (Phyllis on left, Duke on right)
Saying goodbye to Phyllis was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know how it would feel to give up a pup you love so much after 15 months together. It was heart wrenching, but I knew she was on her way to do the job she was born to do.
Ace An 8 Week Old Black Lab Puppy
Luckily, upon her goodbye, I was handed Ace, my new 8-week-old black lab puppy. It was difficult starting again from square one with Ace’s training, but I quickly fell madly in love with him. He was my buddy, my cuddler, my sweetheart.
Day 1 with Ace
Eight months into my training with Ace, I received great news: Phyllis had graduated from her training and moved to Arizona with her new owner, an elderly woman who was blind. Before I knew it, it was time for Ace to head to New York as well. I waited months to hear about Ace’s progress and finally the news came: he had graduated the program as well and was placed with a woman in Michigan.
I couldn’t be more proud of my dogs for making it all the way through the guide dog program and leading the blind with their eyes and with their hearts. Today, I’m a still pen pal with Phyllis and Ace’s owners. They send me updates and pictures each month. I also have two dogs that are my very own: Kibo (a goofy, Shepherd mix) and Kenya (an 8-week-old puppy mix). The three of us live in Denver now, where I attend graduate school.
Helping The Guide Dog Foundation
Many of my friends have rescued dogs for the animal assisted therapy program here, and I often lend a hand with training and dog sitting in exchange for donations to the Guide Dog Foundation. Each time I help someone out, I know that those donations are making their way back to dogs like Phyllis and Ace, and the people whose lives they have changed forever.
If you’d like to join me in supporting this great cause, pledge an hour of your time in my ProBueno community. I’m helping with dog-related things, but you are free to offer anything from baking cookies to offering career advice. Every time someone needs your help, they will make a donation to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.
Maybe I’m biased, but I think Golden Retriever puppies are the cutest darn things ever! Or maybe it’s just shiny new object syndrome because I’m pretty sure all puppies are cute. Anyhow, you guys have to check out this picture of our latest shiny new object: Clover!
A soon to be new puppy owner found our site and had several questions for us about bringing home a new puppy. We think that’s great because the more questions you get answered before you get your puppy the better off you are.
So without further adieu…introducing:
Clover The Golden Retriever Puppy
Are Golden Retrievers pups like Clover the cutest?
So what do you think? Is she the cutest little thing ever? Not sure yet. Well take a look at this overhead shot:
Clover cute Golden Retriever Pup
Yep, she’s pretty darn cute. We’ve been raising and training Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers for our guide dog school over the past 6 years. We even had a Golden Retriever growing up. A few years ago we compiled a list to try and figure out which dogs make good family dogs and once again Golden Retrievers rose to the top of the list!
Of course without teaching your puppy basic obedience, socialization, and good house manners it doesn’t really matter what breed you bring home. So make sure to start your training from day 1 (or even start reading up before you bring home your puppy like Clover’s family did) and stay consistent, persistent, and patient when training your puppy.
How about you guys? We’d love to see pictures of your puppies! If you’d like to share a picture of your puppy please feel free to post to our Facebook Timeline or upload one through our contact form.
Do you think Golden Retriever puppies are the cutest? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Golden Retriever Puppy - Apache First Dog Toy
Apache the Golden Retriever And His First Dog Toy!
Apache, A Guide Dog Puppy In Training
Apache, A Guide Dog Puppy In Training
I’m around dogs almost 24 hours a day 7 days a week. As a guide dog puppy raiser you take you dog with you just about everywhere you go. When I’m out and about I usually get many of the same questions like:
- Is it hard to give your puppy up when it’s time for guide dog college?
- How long do you keep your puppy?
- At what age do you bring home your puppy?
- etc. etc. etc.
However, one question that I used to get regularly came up for the first time in months maybe a year? That questions was “What are the best family dogs?“ This was even one of my first questions before I picked up Linus over 7 years ago. I even built a spreadsheet that I shared here over 4 years ago with a 2 part blog series on what I thought were the best family dogs.
The Best Family Dogs
My original article was more about online research and trying to stoke discussion about everyone’s experiences with different dog breeds. Thanks to the comment section this post went well beyond my own research and experience as many people shared their favorite dog breeds and also many people expressed their displeasure with certain dog breeds including some that I had on my list.
Reggie The Golden Retriever
Yesterday I spoke candidly with a young lady who was contemplating what dog breed would be best as a family dog. Here are some of the things I said to her:
- The breed of dog you get largely depends on you and your family. What do you prefer in a dog? What is your families lifestyle? Do you like to run with your dog? Do you like a couch potato? Are you the outdoorsy type?
- Shelter Dogs Part I – Linus was a shelter dog. However, I don’t think that shelter dogs are for everyone. Linus was sick when I picked him up and it took a lot of work to get him healthy again. I’m not sure everyone wants to nurse a sick do back to health when adopting a puppy.
- Shelter Dogs Part II – You usually don’t know as much about shelter dogs because you probably won’t get to meet their parents. Also, there could be some behavior problems that you need to deal with. A friend of mine rescued a shepherd mix who was a wonderful dog. However, the minute they left him alone he had severe separation anxiety and even jumped a 6 foot fence to try and escape.
- Shelter Dogs Part III – I’ve read that as much as 25% of the dogs in shelters are pure bred.
- Rescue Dogs – I’m a big advocate of going to a dog rescue like Cuddly Canines to rescue your next dog. I like rescues a little bit more than going to your local animal shelter for a few reasons:
If you decide that you want to go to a breeder make sure you find a reputable breeder.
- The dogs are usually evaluated in a foster home for a minimum of 2 weeks. This gives fosters a chance to see what the dogs personality is like before adopting him out.
- Most of the vaccinations are already done by the rescue group.
- Dogs have already started worming medications and are usually fully dewormed by the time they go home. You probably don’t want to deal with dog worms they’re gross!
- Dogs are already spayed or neutered. This is nice because you don’t have to worry about another surgery. You don’t have to worry about your dog wearing the cone of shame. It’s a lot cheaper to register a fixed dog.
Finally to the moment of truth. Of course you know my answer is going to be biased seeing that I’m a guide dog puppy raiser and have had Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers living in my house for the past 5 years. So here we go…my short and easy answer:
My Nomination for the Best Family Dog
How can all of those folks at the AKC be wrong? The Labrador Retriever has been the number 1 registered dog through the AKC for over 10 years!
I’ve puppy raised and puppy sat many Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. I prefer Labs over Goldens and the main reason is because of their coat. The Golden requires a little more maintenance then a Lab. I do love the personalities of both the Goldens and Labs I’ve had.
So there you have it. The Labrador Retriever once again is number 1. Sorry Linus (Australian Shepherd Mix)…Sorry Apache(Golden Retriever)….Hurray for Stetson (Black Labrador Retreiver)!!!
Tell us what dog breed do you think makes the best family dog? Let us know…leave us a comment.