Archive for the ‘golden retriever’ Category


This is not one of those dogs that craps in the house because of a little cold dew on the ground.

A thick, double coat and a body without exaggeration, and it’s an all terrain model.

I like a dog that looks like a dog, and it goes without saying that it better be a smart one, too.

Through selective breeding we can shape dog muscle and bone, but in a lot of ways, we’ve selected for terrible structure in the name of vanity.

If a dog can’t enjoy a good run in the snow, it’s really missing out on one of the greatest features of being a dog.

As we all know, dogs have a hard time ridding themselves of heat, but when they get to run in the snow, it’s like they are getting a constant cooling splash with every galloping stride.

Which makes them run harder than they normally would.

The cooling effect of the snow splashing up on their bodies gives them just that little edge they need to go wild in the snow cover.

It is truly a beautiful thing to observe.





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Remarkable discovery in the snow!

Thylacine sighting



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Ridge-running dogs don’t care about the weather.

They run the ridges as their avocation, their metier, their being.

The snow can blanket the forests and hills, but a good ridge-running dog will take to it as if her paws were meant to grace the snow and ice as they were the softest of rugs.

They live life for boisterous winter days when nothing is stirring but the wind, which casts the scents of forest denizens into her quivering nose.

These are the days for the gentle retriever to become a big more lupine in manner, questing over through the thickets where grouse and rabbits have sought refuge from the ever-peering eyes of the red-tails circling above.

It is a time of near limitless freedom, of the spontaneity of the chase, and of the sudden abandon of a running fit.

And it s time of a state of Zen to which we mere humans can only hope to aspire.


And that, folks, is why I like to be out with an old ridge-running dog.

My neuroses and failings slip away into the cold air. I am free for the moment. I can finally be.

Thank you, dear ridge-runner, for bringing me back so many times to your world of wild thickets, fluttering grouse, squacking squirrels, and bounding rabbits.

It is but a taste of the world that both our species once knew when we walked that ancient taiga in search of game. Our time together in the wild is but a facsimile of that time and place, but it is one where you play the part so much better than I do.

All that I can say is that I’m humbled to have this time with you, and I know that I cannot show you enough appreciation for the joy you have brought me.

Just to be in the presence of a dog with a sagacious mind and a body well adapted to running up and down hills is to be taken on a journey outside of modern human experience.

It is an attempt to taste what it means to be natural again.

That mere taste is the greatest gift that the ridge-runner can bestow upon me, but it makes me yearn for more.

The taste is just that sweet.



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The problem with snow is that makes a dog’s scent marks less distinct, and they must be reapplied.


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golden retriever and grouse

This is the photo from the cover of James Lamb Free’s Training Your Retriever. The book is a classic treatise on training retrievers for North American waterfowl trials with some discussion training them to hunt pheasants.

It does not show you how to use a golden retriever to hunt ruffed grouse. I considered it false advertising!



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Winter paw


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These two photos are of a dog spying a flask during Prohibition. These were taken at the Potomac River and are dated to February 23, 1922. The dog was actually trained to find hidden stores of liquor. (An early sniffer dog).

1922 golden retriever prohibition

1922 golden retriever prohibition 2

The dog looks a lot like a golden retriever, even though I’m a bit skeptical that it was one. There were almost none of them in the US at the time.

Retrieving dogs are a commonly used as sniffer dogs. All they have to do is associate the scent of what they are retrieving with the substance in question and then build upon that.




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