Have a Golden day, its National Golden Retriever Day!

Have a Golden day as today is National Golden Retriever Day!

I know, one of those huh I didn’t know it was a national day day haha! National Golden Retriever Day started in 2012 by Kristen Shroyer as a tribute to Golden Retrievers around the country after the loss of her golden Quincy. 

Some neat facts about goldens:

  • As of 2021 they were #3 in most popular dog breeds in the US!
  • The Golden was first seen at a British dog show in 1908 and were listed as Flat Coats (Golden) [another source mentions in 1906 they were in the Retriever – Wavy or Flat Coated in classes for those of “any other color”. ]
  • Recognized officially by the The Kennel Club in 1911 as “Retriever – Yellow or Golden” then in 1920 as “Retriever-Golden” in 1920. The CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) recognized Goldens in 1925 with the AKC (American Kennel Club) following in 1932. 
  • In the USA, there are between 5,00,000 to 750,000 registered Golden Retrievers!


Let’s head into the breed’s history for some lore & mystery!

We head back into time to the Guisachan (pronounced Gooeesicun) estate of Dudley Majoribanks, aka Lord Tweedmouth at Inverness-Shire, Scotland, the year 1854. Lord Tweedmouth was an avid hunter and was looking for a dog that would tirelessly retrieve over land and water to hunt grouse, partridge and even red deer. The thought was to combine a retriever with a water spaniel to create such a dog.  Lord Tweedmouth wasn’t a beginner of breeding dogs as he had bred & kept meticulous records from 1835 until his passing. When he acquired Guiaschan, he built a basic kennel but finding it unsatisfactory for his dogs he build a new state of the art kennel. The new kennel had thick walls, with 6 foot railings and tiled floors outside, while the inside featured paved floors, paneled kennel sides and in floor heat! There was also a cold water supply to cast iron bowls in each run – schwanky! 

The kennels aside, let’s get to the start of Golden Retrievers!

First arrives a yellow wavy-coated retriever named Nous in the 1864. Nous was an anomaly due to being yellow in color – the fashionable color of retrievers at the time was black, which meant yellow pups were typically culled or occasionally passed to another person. 

Enter in the first part of lore:
It was said that Nous & two other dogs were acquired from… a Russian circus! Supposedly in 1868 Sir Dudley purchased three yellow dogs from a Russian circus in the area. These dogs were said to have been from the Region of Caucacus and most likely were sheep dogs of sorts. Believable… eh.

(In 1911 William le Poer Trench SWORE that the yellow dogs he acquired from Guisachan were from the original breed lineage of Nous – that is the Russian ancestors. He went to the Caucasus but the dogs were all on the high ground with the sheep at that time. He paid for a dog and still none could be found!)

The second part of lore:
Nous was acquired when Lord Tweedmouth & his son were strolling around town. They passed a cobbler who had a young yellow wavy coat retriever, perhaps lounging outside or greeting the two passing. They inquire about the dog and the cobbler relates that he received the dog as payment from some lord or another. They banter and the dog, having caught Lord Tweedmouth’s eye, is transferred into the hands of the duo. 

The Russian background story wasn’t debunked fully until 1952 when Lady Pentland, granddaughter of Lord Tweedmouth shared Lord Tweedmouth’s meticulous record & studbook (it was kept from 1835 to 1890) with Golden Retriever historian Elma Stonex. The second piece of lore of Nous from a cobbler is also debunked with the studbook – Nous’s entry states he was a flat-coated retriever bred by Lord Chichester. 

The actual story: Not exactly known but the studbook notes that Nous was received from Lord Chichester on his Stanmer Park estate near Brighton. Nous was the only yellow pup in the litter of pure bred flat coated retrievers with both of his parents being black. How the pup landed with Lord Tweedmouth isn’t stated, though one notation I found mentioned that the pup was given to Lord Tweedmouth from one of the keepers in lieu of a debt. 

In 1952, the 6th Earl of Ilchester published a famous article in “Country Life (England)” which brought out tons of information about the golden retrievers as a breed.

You can read the article here:  Breed History of the Yellow Retriever 

Now on to the second part of the paring: Belle. 

Belle was received from David Robertson in 1867 (she was born in 1863). The studbook notes that she was a “Ladykirk breed” (also known as a Ladykirk Spaniel or Tweed Spaniel or Tweed Water Spaniel). 

What did a Tweed Water Spaniel look like? Written blips mention Tweeds were similar in appearance to Irish Water Spaniels (they possibly were a variation of them) with a heavier muzzle and pointed head. They had a curled coat that was  light liver colored (at the time liver color could be many shades of brown including sandy & fawn), they also had thick, slightly feathered, hound like ears, droopy lips with fore legs that were feathered but hind legs that were not and were sized like small retrievers. Description noted by Hugh Dalziel in his 1897 work British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition. He also mentions one of the Tweed dogs he owned carried liver & tan colors on multiple puppies in two litters she produced, lending toward a background ancestry from Bloodhound. (The Bloodhound would lend to a superior sense of smell, great for a hunting dog!)

This is what an Irish Water Spaniel looked like in 1897. From Hugh Dalziel in his work British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition.

(A note: In 1863 there was also a “Ladykirk breed” dog named Tweed in the studbook,  prior to Belle. He was never used in breeding before he died in 1867. A new Tweed arrived in 1872.  Both dogs were from David Robertson who had also produced Belle.)

The mating of Nous to Belle occurred in 1868 and produced 4 yellow pups: Cowslip, Primrose, Crocus & Ada. Crocus was the only male and was given to Tweedmouth’s son Edward Marjoribanks and Ada to cousin Henry Edward Fox-Strangways, 5th Earl of Ilchester. (There is dispute if Ada was one of the original litter of pups or if she was from a later Nous x Belle litter…)

Thus began the beginnings of golden retrievers!

From the original pairings, the studbook noted that the “new” Tweed was bred to Cowslip in 1873 and they produced a yellow pup named Topsey. Ada produced a yellow pup in 1874 named Brass. In 1875 Jack & Jill another pair of yellow pups were sired by red setter Sampson & Cowslip. In 1878 Sambo a black flat coated retriever was paired with Topsey, producing the yellow pup Zoe. Zoe was paired with Jack and they produced Nous II and Gill. Gill was mated to a black labrador called Tracer and the female yellow pup, Queenie, from that mating was bred back to Nous II. Crocus produced three yellow puppies in 1881 with Zoe. And we haven’t even reached 1900!

Outcrosses touched into Irish setters, St John’s Water Dog of Newfoundland, additional flat coated retrievers, a sandy coated bloodhound, and Labrador. Each of these outcrossing helped to shape & define the breed of the Golden retriever as well as adding to the depth of coat colors from cream to red. 

From the various breedings and combinations, it was notable that the yellow coat color would emerge even when one of the parents was a black coated dog. Most likely it meant that the parent with the black coat was caring the genetic marker for a yellow coat! Yellow isn’t a dominate allele and you need to have two copies of the recessive gene e/e for a yellow (shades of white, cream, yellow, apricot, gold, lemon, or reds). Once the color yellow was achieved in multiple generations, the genetics were set for consistent yellow coat colors, despite the fact that great great grandparents would have carried black coats! 

That wraps the history up quite well! But…. there’s more mystery!

There may have been yellow wavy coat retrievers, very much in the Golden Retriever type, BEFORE Lord Tweedmouth built the foundation! You can read about it here: The Origins of the Golden Retriever Revisited by Jeffery Pepper. It’s a bit of a long read, but it does raise the theory that there were yellow retrievers in existence before Golden Retrievers were created!

Wowee what a history!

No matter their history, Golden Retrievers have won the hearts & couch spaces of many families in the past 155 years! Huzzah what a legacy!

Don’t own a Golden Retriever to celebrate? Look into rescuing one of your own! Tri County Humane Society doesn’t have any goldens at the moment but look at all the other adorable friends you could add to your family! Or find a Golden from Retrieve A Golden of the Midwest (based in Minnetonka MN), or head over to Petfinder and search for Golden Retreivers in closer proximity to you! (If you don’t want to adopt, consider fostering!)

Or if you already have the perfect pup or pups at home then… celebrate National Doggy Date Night, also on February 3rd! 

Head out to a local dog friendly space for a cider or brew, pop into an indoor dog park or head to your dog’s favorite shop to snag a new toy and some sweet treats. Kick back and watch some dog friendly movies as you stay cozy during the cold snap for today!

Also… February 3rd is… National Carrot Cake Day!

Break out your grater and work up those arm muscles shredding carrots like our grandmas & great grandmas did! There are tons of recipes available from the Google machine, you’ll be sure to find a favorite! (I use a vegan one that involves… baby food!). Not one to make a carrot cake, then head to your nearest baker or grocer and snag a ready to go option. 

Did you know that the oldest carrot cake recipe is found in a French cookbook published in 1827!

Not sure you’ll be able to find a dog friendly carrot cake, but there are a big batch of cake & cupcake recipes available to be found on the Google machine that your dog would LOVE for you to bake (and remember the 3rd is also National Doggy Date Night! Cake for you and your pup!)

So take today, February 3rd to celebrate Golden Retrievers, have a doggie date night and eat some carrot cake!

We’re in a blog ring of dog & pet photographers around the world! Next visit Endless Mountains PA photographer Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography shows you three “golden” moments from her studio work.


New Year’s things to achieve, not resolve

The fresh new year arrives tomorrow after a celebration that peaks at the midnight hour with champagne, noisemakers and glitter galore. 

With the new year comes multitudes of resolutions. Things people resolve to settle or find a solution to whether it be undesired traits, behaviors or personal goals. 

Resolve the things. Hmm… isn’t a resolving something taking care of something “problematic”? We’re looking for the “cure” in a sense for the problematic things instead of creating a “preventative” that keeps us from getting the problematic thing in the first place and needing a cure. 

Instead of resolutions this year, I’m making a list of things to achieve. To achieve is to successfully bring about or reach.  Instead of resolving something problematic, why not achieve a goal instead?

New Year’s 2023 things to achieve:

  • Dogs of the North Shore – indeed another book! EEEEEK! Lots of logistics to come. Let us know if you want to be part of the book!
  • Quarterly Short & Sweet Sessions, one for each season. 
  • Minimum of 4 sessions a month – totally doable! That would be a whopping 48 sets of dogs & their people for the span of the year!
  • A studio space! For when the weather chills or grows too hot. Home based is easiest, I think it would be cool to have a space that others could rent too!
  • Scouting new locations at least once a month with Blue.
  • An indoor dog park! A very far out project & goal, but it could be considered for the coming year!
  • Better weight management – there are 30 lbs that need to be shifted off. I have the methods, just need to employ them and stick to them. 
  • Eating more healthy things and less sugary things. 
  • Hiking with Blue, at least once a month packing up and visiting a state park on the parks list from Minnesota
  • Camping with Blue! We’d need a few bits more of supplies and we might be more of glampers but it would be fun to spend the night in various places around the state!
  • Baking at least once a month, making waffles once a month and doughnuts a few times a year. I love baking but my energy has been a bit blah for baking. 
  • Being more social – whether a book club, a thrifting buddy, glass collecting friend, or with fellow dog people, social & new friends is an achievement for next year

From the start of the new year until the end of the year is the deadline for the achievements. Each one of them is doable, some requiring more oomph and motivation, others more logistics. And what better thing to look back on the year and see the things you’ve achieved? 

Whereas if you work to resolve things for the coming year you may skimp on it, might not get far (a huge portion of resolutions are left to the curb within the first 3 months of the new year…)

Here’s to the coming achievements of 2023! Much love from Blue, Kris and myself!

Blue’s First Christmas aka Christmas with a puppy!

Showing up on Sunday formally, celebrated on multiple days if not the month long, it’s Christmas! Wrapped presents with fun surprises inside, the tree decked with lights and ornaments and a 6 month old puppy, huzzah!

If this is your puppy’s first Christmas here are some things to remember for Christmas day:

  • Unwrapping presents is fun but… don’t let your puppy eat the paper! Overall it probably won’t hurt them, but if you don’t want other paper things to be nommed on, then keep wrapping paper away. 
  • Leash your puppy as guests are entering or leaving, especially if your pup’s door manners aren’t the greatest. No one wants their puppy to dart out the door and engage in an epic game of chase throughout the neighborhood in knee deep snow, nor do they want grandma to be bowled over by an over zealous puppy. Or crate your puppy until guests have all arrived and crate them when guests begin to leave. 
  • Remember the Christmas tree is… an ADVENTURE! Keep breakable ornaments up out of nose reach (it’s higher than you think!) and make sure to keep a watchful eye on your puppy. This is great time to work on “leave it” for not only the tree and ornaments but also the presents nestled under the tree. If your puppy is extra naughty, put up a barrier so they can’t get to the tree and the goodies. (And also write to Santa about how naughty your puppy has been!)
  • Don’t forget nap times! Your puppy still needs ample sleep throughout the day (a 6 month old puppy needs 16-18 hours of sleep). If your house is busy & bustling, place your pup’s crate in a quiet guest bedroom. Check in on them every couple of hours – if they are snoozing let them sleep, if they are bright eyed and awake, give them a potty break and invite them to hang out with the guests.

Reference the blog post “Puppy safety for the holiday season” for a ton more tips, plus a GIANT list of foods your puppy can or can’t feast on this holiday season!

Our tree has been up since around Thanksgiving, with presents accumulating as the time draws nearer to Christmas. Blue hasn’t paid the tree much mind (artificial so it doesn’t smell more than the plastic and the box its kept in) and has casually sniffed the nose level ornaments. A knitted mitten ornament was gingerly removed by him, though I then took it from him. Most other ornaments are left alone with “leave it”. 

The presents have not been accosted or assaulted, instead they have merely been sniffed. The most energetic sniffing came from the BarkBox tucked further under the tree, but he couldn’t reach the box to tear into it. We’ll see what he does for Christmas! 

With the weather being snowy & quite cold (no temps over 10 degrees for the last week) I’ve been thinking of breaking out one of the studio lights and seeing what Blue thinks of them. 

Why not for the Christmas blog theme? Cue the montage fueled by Christmas music!

The loveseat was rotated from its window view to face the TV and the end table pushed as close to his crate as possible. Blue was a bit confused and rather curious. 

Upstairs for the light. Easy peasy. The remote trigger… that was harder to find, though it ended up in a logical place. (The craft / office room needs a solid decluttering…). Octobox snagged. Multiple trips up and down the stairs, octobox set up, light up, presents arranged for a backdrop and treats in hand. 

Camera shutter click, light recycle beep and not even the slightest flinch from Blue. He paid little attention to the big white shape & pops of light. Not even the slightest peep as this was a new weird shape in the living room (Swissys are great at letting you know when things are out of place haha!). 

Well I’ll be. This boy is truly a natural model! (Early camera conditioning for the win!)

Blue is doing his best to be patient waiting for Christmas & along with waiting to open his stocking (this was a hard feat, thus the limited stocking images haha!). He’s also an excellent present checker – no presents for you in that stack Blue! 

Kris, Blue & I all wish you a very merry holiday season brimming with love, family and smiles galore!

We’re in a blog ring of dog and pet photographers around the world! Next up Jessica Wasik with Bark & Gold Photography offers five ways to honor your pet on your first Christmas without him.

For those techy type people: 
* Nikon D5 + Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 & Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 (17mm was switched to for the end of the session). 
* Settings were 1/125th shutter, aperture  f2.8 to f4 pending lens & focal range, ISO 200 to 160
* Light: Interfit S1 at 3-5 power? (I didn’t pay much attention to it) + 36″ Angler BoomBox with outer baffle
*** Both the Interfit S1 & Angler Boombox are discontinued – there is a version 2 of the BoomBox available fyi!

Snow fun in Minnesota!

The snow has arrived as of Wednesday morning, dumping a load of the total forecasted two day 7 inch amount. 

Minnesota may be known for cold more than snow, but we get our fair share of the white stuff. (Randomly: January, December & March are Minnesota’s top 3 snowiest months!). Add in our diverse landscapes and it makes for a wonderful winter wonderland. 

How diverse are our landscapes? Well there are 4 provinces – units of land defined using major climate zones and native vegetation – across the state of Minnesota! 

Arrive from the east you’ll be met with the Eastern Broadleaf Forest that spreads narrowly across the state wedged between two other zones. This province is a transition, or ecotone, between semi-arid prairie and semi-humid conifer forests to the northeast. Most of the landscape features broadleaf trees (the type that drop their leaves).  Farmland is also abundant, though many stands of trees & woods are still prominent.  You’ll find us in this province! 

North of the Eastern Broadleaf Forest and a big chunk of the state is the Laurentian Mixed Forest. It spans from east to more than halfway across the state and heavily into the north.  This area is characterized by broad areas of conifer forest, mixed forests of hardwood & conifer along with conifer bogs and swamps. 

Heading west and south from the Eastern Broadleaf Forest you’ll land in the Prairie Parkland. This area of the state is dominated by tallgrass prairie. Ample grasslands as far & wide as the eye can see. These grasslands are an extension of the Great Plains. 

Heading north from the Prairie Parkland lands you in a wee wedge called the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands. This province forms the ecotone between semi-arid landscapes covered by prairie and semi-humid mixed conifer deciduous forests. This area is cold and dry, giving rise to prairie grass and fire-dependent woodland communities. You’ll most likely find those notoriously cold extreme Minnesota temps here (-40°F to -45°F), though winter temps of -20°F to -30°F are not uncommon throughout the winter. 

And those temps are without windchill!!! BRRRRRRR!

Luckily, Wednesday and its blanket of snow arrived on temps of mid 30s. Perfect outdoors in the winter temperature! 

Blue has seen snow before and is… vaguely enthused. He likes to eat the snow / catch snowballs, sniff and sometimes dig in the snow but doesn’t like cold toes or sitting in the snow. The snow doesn’t prompt zoomies nor excitement to play in for Blue. The mountain part of his breed (Greater Swiss Mountain Dog) seems to be missing haha! Though this is his first winter and it may take an adjustment to get him to a proper snow loving dog!

Mostly his main goal… find sticks to eat. 

And he’s nearly 6 months (on December 27th!) and has heard ALL of the attention capturing noises I make and finds them less than curious than everything else in the yard haha! 

Or… he’s a tween. Not quite the bitey puppy, not quite the teenager testing the world. Posing for pictures, lame! There are more exciting things to see & smell mom! 

All the pretty snow on the fences and trees was gone by the evening due to the mid 30s temps. No worries, cue MORE snow on Thursday! Blue and I didn’t do any pictures Thursday, but he was “helpful” in shoveling the snow haha!

We’re in a blog ring of dog & pet photographers from around the world! Next up get your dog ready for a day of fun in the snow with these 3 tips from Nicole of Pawtraits by Nicole!

The dog & human bond

The bond we have with our dogs goes deep, etched back into the seams of ancestry. In fact the dog & human bond may have led to some epic evolutionary events in our shared history. 

Backwards we go into time, not as far as the dinosaurs, but around the time the hominoids descended from the trees. These early hominoids transitioned into upright positions freeing their hands for use of tools for hunting. Dogs didn’t exist, though their wolf ancestors did. 

Time transitioned, the wolf becoming part of human life & transitioning into dogs as we know them in modern age. Many theories exist about domestication, though one of my favorite theories is that dogs played a part in the evolution of humans.

The thought goes: upright humanoids are effective at gathering, growing skilled at crafting tools with their hands. They can capture small prey, perhaps fashion nets for fishing, though they rely greatly on foraging for berries (this is where our genetics for eating sweet things comes from – sweet = typically safe to eat).  Hunting large mammals didn’t occur. Perhaps at some point, from frustration at hunting or mere observations, humans began to study how wolves hunted. Tribes that coexisted with wolves (as in a shared territory, not as companions) began to employ the tactics they observed from the wolves. These tribes found success more frequently, then fueled by animal proteins, they grew their brains. Hunting became the method of survival. The influence of hunting across many different tribes across many different landmasses didn’t mean information was shared, but observation of the wolves was observed. 

Hunting regularly meant that there were scraps and “garbage” tossed outside the edges of encampments. This kept mice & vermin out of the shelters & areas where the people lived and slept. Vermin and “garbage” meant an easy food source for the ancestor wolves. Wolves that were human friendly would be rewarded with scraps of food, perhaps a safe place to rest, if not protection when they sounded the alarm for incoming predators and opposing tribes. Each generation of human friendly wolf became friendlier, transitioning out of wild into domestication. (This also is the best theory for multiple domestication occurrences of dogs.) 

As wolves continued to transition into working companions, they began to aide our ancient ancestors in hunting, then transitioned into roles of guardian of kept livestock and watchdogs of the villages. Ancient humans began shape the wolves into dogs for certain purposes – hunting, guarding and companionship. And the dogs continued to aid in the lives of humans. 

Co-evolution and domestication of dogs and humans. 

No wonder our bond with dogs is so deep and vast. 

Zoom forward to modern day dogs and our bond with them continues to deepen. Our dogs have moved into companionship over traditional jobs and have moved into our households as family members. They inspire us, make us giggle, keep our secrets and love us unconditionally. 

In the realm of dog photography, capturing the bond you have with your dog is a must have image.

You may think… “Egads! I’m not portrait material. I need to [insert something like: lose weight, haircut, yada yada}.” SHUSH! In this moment, at this time, you are perfectly perfect for being in images with your dog.  Your dog loves you for the person you are, not the size or shape you are. If you were to lose your dog today, would you have images of them together that aren’t selfie style? (I bet the answer is no.)

Take Bender. As much as he was a tolerant model and in many images throughout the years, we did not ever have a portraits done together. There are a few casual pictures, a few selfies, but none of us together. This March marks a year since he’s been gone. 

So be in those pictures with your dog and celebrate your bond! And if you are still super adverse to being in pictures because of reasons A, B or Z, then we will get creative using parts of you with your dog. 

How about your legs and your pup? This is a great way to give a sense of size to your pup as well! 

Baby Blue & I byTiffany of TEM Photography

Or do an over the shoulder look. This works best with dogs who can be picked up, though it can be done in a sitting position too. 

Baby Blue & I by Tiffany of TEM Photography

Or just say “to heck with it” and jump right in! You’ll love the images and the memories tied to them.