Max the Golden Retriever!
Katie and I took a big step this weekend by adopting a golden retriever from Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston. We both grew up with goldens so we were sure that we understood what we were getting into in terms of temperament, activity level, size--and volume of hair! We also felt that this was the right time in our lives to move forward with this kind of commitment. Even as recently as a couple of years ago it would have been unthinkable but now we have settled into enough of a routine and committed to a future together such that we know we can handle this new responsibility.
After spending some time on the GRRH website, we filled out an application which had a primary purpose of verifying that we understood the cost, time, and discipline commitments involved as well as screening for any signs of abuse.
After GRRH approved our initial application, we received a call from their coordinator to discuss in greater detail our lifestyles, home environment, and preferences. We were hoping for a young (1-3 years) but already trained golden that would socialize easily with other dogs and people. Katie and I are both very social so a dog that we could take to the dog park and to friends' houses would fit best with us. We were targeting youth so that its joints would be OK with all the stairs in our three-story townhome. Katie and I both grew up with female goldens so we had a natural bias toward getting a girl but we also knew we would love a boy just as much.
Based on the profiles on the GRRH website and on our phone conversations with them, we identified 5 candidates for potential adoption. The next step was to talk with the trainers and foster parents of each dog. The first trainer we contacted was actually training two of the dogs on our list. One of the dogs was incredibly sweet but apparently had a really hard time being around other dogs and the trainer just wasn't sure that was addressable. The more we talked with the trainer, though, the more we fell in love with her other dog, a three-year-old boy named Max.
On Thursday we made the decision to meet Max in person Saturday morning. He came in with his foster mom to Pet Paradise, where he had been boarded. We met them both there and had a chance to play with Max a bit, witness him showing off his tricks/training, and chat with the foster mom about her experience with him.
In short, it was love at first sight. He was incredibly sweet and very gentle but still with great enthusiasm and energy. He was quite smart and had been picking up his training very quickly. Unlike any golden I had seen before, Max was a very light cream color, almost white; apparently this is the British style of golden retriever.
At the end of our session, Katie and I said our polite goodbyes and let them know we'd come back to them with our reactions shortly. We made it maybe four steps out the door, though, when we looked at each other and, without words, we both knew that this was the dog. We decided to skip the formal decision process, turned right around, and said we'd take him if they would let us. By the time we reached our car in the parking lot, we had a call from the coordinator saying that the trainer and foster mom enthusiastically approved of our adopting Max so we could sign the adoption contract and pick him up as soon as we liked.
As we didn't have any dog supplies at home we delayed pick-up until the afternoon. In the meantime I picked my brother up at the airport and we worked out together for the first time in three months (Consequently I can barely move now out of soreness.) while Katie went to PetSmart for our first stock-up.
After lunch all three of us went to Pet Paradise to pick up our new boy. He was very excited to see us again and super easy to manage on a leash, in the car, etc. We introduced him to his new home, which he took to immediately, and spent awhile showing him around, taking him for walks, and just getting to know him a bit.
His first night was a rough one. While boarded (presumably) he had contracted kennel cough, the canine equivalent of the flu. This meant he was up all night with a hacking, productive cough (worse than Smuckers, on Seinfeld!) and, hence, we were up all night as well. Around 5 AM we finally took him to the vet just to make sure it wasn't something more serious but they put him on some antibiotics and confirmed that we would just have to wait it out for several days. No problem, as long as he's OK!
Sunday was a lovely day for all of us, lazing around the main floor, watching football, and introducing Max to the housemates. His cough is already getting better and he loves all the people around him showering him with attention. He still needs some training around where and when to do is business and not jumping up on people/things but, again, he's a smart boy and learning quickly. We have all the patience in the world to work with him because he is such a wonderful addition to our family and we just love him so much!