Life Lessons From A Golden Retriever

If we humans modeled our behavior on the character and boundless optimism of a golden retriever, we’d all be a lot happier and chilled.

Last Friday morning, I came downstairs dressed in my workout clothes and sneakers, ready to shake my booty at a Zumba class. Upon seeing my attire, Angel, our almost 10-year old golden retriever bounced up, ridiculously excited. Of course she assumed, from my clothing and footwear, that we were going for a W-A-L-K (shhh, don’t say it, dogs can spell.) Much to her disappointment, off I left, without her.

Guess what happened though when I came home, sweaty and exhausted, an hour or so later? Yup. She saw my workout clothes and sneakers and leapt to her feet grinning, assuming once again that we were going out for a W-A-L-K. But, of course, I went upstairs and showered.

I felt bad for giving Angel false hope however, when I came downstairs later on, there she was, happy to see me, eager for a belly rub. And I thought to myself: if we humans modeled our behavior on the character and boundless optimism of a golden retriever, we’d all be a lot happier and chilled. Think about it.

  • Golden retrievers are enthusiastic about almost anything. They perk up at the mere hint of a treat, a trip to the park, grooming or just a good rumpus in the backyard. Every time you come home, they greet you exuberantly, as if you’d been gone for weeks.
  • Their aptitude for forgiveness is endless. So I didn’t take her for a W-A-L-K. No biggie. Maybe she didn’t get that slice of bacon being cooked at breakfast-time. Ah well. She still loves us, ready and eager for the next opportunity.
  • Laziness, one of my favorite characteristics ….. Golden retrievers make it an art form. Lounging on the front porch, car slows down ….. she’ll barely open an eye, flip an ear up an inch to see if it’s really worth bothering getting up for. Snoozing at the bottom of the stairs, she lets out a huge sigh. Ah yes, life is good.
  • Golden retrievers are not picky eaters: children take note. They will cheerfully consume pretty much anything that’s available. If you’ve dropped it or left it within reach, double points.
  • Good manners: Golden retrievers listen to instructions and generally do what they are told. More so than most children I know.
  • Like many other canines, for Angel, exercise is fun, not a chore. To dogs, it’s not about burning calories or getting ripped, it’s about the sheer joy of running, jumping, swimming, rolling in the mud, digging.
  • Exploration is a constant. We humans tend to err on the side of caution and stick to the known, whereas golden retrievers with their big brown sniffy noses will happily check anything out. Maybe give it a little chew. If it’s really smelly, maybe roll in it.
  • They’ll be your BFF. Not just you, their master, but pretty much anyone. The mail man, kids, visitors, vets, strangers, other dogs, even the cat. Golden retrievers love everyone – no matter their race, color, religion, creed or smell.
  • Goldens are humble, never vain. They are blithely unaware of their beauty and general cuteness. They appreciate being groomed but not for the silky coat, rather for the fun and attention. They don’t care how they look or smell, whether they are muddy or even if there are dingleberries hanging from their behinds. They don’t even need fancy, expensive toys. Often, a simple stick is the best-toy-ever.

But I’m not saying that golden retrievers are without fault. Ours is affectionately known as Angel the Kleptomaniac. Yup, she’s a thief. Not only does she pinch stuff – she buries it! Socks, dish towels, toys, sippy cups, shoes, cordless telephones, even the TV remote … the list of things she’s been stealing and burying for the last seven years is fairly extensive. I’d love to know whether she she’s just acting out or if she’s genuinely trying to protect these items.

They say it’s a dog’s life.

I think they are on to something.


Samantha McGarry is a working Mom, juggling career, family and life one crazy day at a time - with a smile on her face. She blogs at Keeping the Glass Half Full.

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Brenda Crawshaw August 31, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I *LOVE* this post! We just adopted a 13 year old golden who was cared for in the most exemplary fashion for most of his life. Recently his owners moved and secured temporary housing for him with a relative who claimed they "loved" the dog (and have one of their own). A couple of months into the arrangement the wife called the owner to report that the dog had "bitten" her, which she rapidly downgraded to a "nip" when met with incredulity. With absolutely no options, euthanasia was a consideration. The story reaches OUR ears and that's the end of the euthanasia idea. The owner drove many hours to the home and found the dog covered with sores, one eye completely closed with an infection, bloated, refusing to leave his crate and with NO personality. After a restorative period, we took possession of Piper, the most loveable, sweet, GOOD dog I have known. As you eloquently said, every day is a good day with Piper. Every "treat" is delicious, every walk is the BEST! WALK! EVER! Every car ride is a trip to Paris. Every scritch is the most love he's felt. Any eye contact results in vigorous tail wagging. Any mention of the words "good boy" - even when out of Piper-context - results in an arthritic heave to his feet and a head in the lap. It's a mutual love-fest! So there's a special place in hell for that chick who let him down (and you know I will be helping her on her way when we meet) and now my home is HEAVEN, for us AND him!
Mama Smith August 31, 2012 at 01:43 PM
There is nothing like a golden - great article! Ours likes to sofa dive for crumbs and keep "her" yard squirrel free.
Karen Salemi August 31, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Great post, Samantha! I think unconditional love is the reason why most people enjoy their dogs so much. Brenda, so nice of you to recue a senior dog. Shame on her previous owner! Animals are in our trust and completely dependent on us for their care; to violate that trust is either evil or a sickness.
Samantha McGarry August 31, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Pipe is one lucky dog to have found a home with you!
Samantha McGarry August 31, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Sofa dive! Love it - ours is not allowed on the furrniture but she certainly vacuums up crumbs from anyplace she can squeeze her snout into!
Samantha McGarry August 31, 2012 at 02:20 PM
you give love, you get love and so on ....
Brenda Crawshaw August 31, 2012 at 02:32 PM
WE are the lucky ones! And yes, one unexpected but seriously awesome benefit is a clean (does drool count as clean?) kitchen floor!
Susan Manning August 31, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Love this! I could substitute my chocolate labs for your golden and have the same outcome...they are such loyal, life-loving companions!
Andrea Dunne Adrian September 01, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Best blog writer on Framingham Patch!!! Keep 'em coming, Samantha!
Samantha McGarry September 01, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Wow, thank you Andrea - you just made my day! You can check out more of my stuff over at http://samanthamcgarry.wordpress.com Have a great long weekend!
Marilyn Leffler September 01, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I loved the Golden Retriever article. I have an 8 year old Golden named 'Autumn' and she lights up my life every day. Also Brenda, thanks for saving Piper and giving him the good life that he deserves.
Joe Kane September 06, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Thanks for stepping up Brenda. Many people would have passed up a dog of that age and not shown the love and caring that you and your family did. Good Job! God Bless You!


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