Today Is The TRUE Puppy Day

Apparently yesterday was National Puppy Day. It must be true because I saw scads of puppy pictures on Facebook.

But I think everyone was off by a day. Today is the true puppy day.

Because it was five years ago today that Honey came to live with us.

Pam, Mike, and Honey before they go home.

Why does everyone look so shell-shocked? Should I be worried?

What If You Do Everything Right

My life with Honey began with a question.

After adopting two litter mates and doing everything wrong and one senior, reactive dog, I asked myself: what if you adopt a dog and do everything right? What kind of dog would you have?

I know no one is perfect. But would adopting a dog from a careful and responsible breeder give me a dog who would be my partner in volunteer work, like service dog puppy raising or fostering?

Honey and Zoe tug a stick.

You can’t beat me, Zoe. I invented this game.

The Search Begins

First I had to decide what breed of dog I wanted to adopt.

I have always loved German shepherds. But I wanted a dog whose primary instincts were to be friendly to all. Although I wanted my dog to be as smart and responsive as any German shepherd.

After narrowing the choice to three breeds (King Charles Cavalier spaniel, Labrador retriever, and golden retriever) my gut instincts led me to goldens.

Now I had the harder job of finding that perfect breeder.

I contacted the area golden retriever rescue and spoke to a volunteer whose job was to tell me horror stories about goldens to be sure I knew what I was getting into and hadn’t just fallen in love with a puppy I saw on a dog food commercial. When she became convinced I wasn’t a psychopathic puppy killer, she gave me the names of two area breeders with new litters.

A golden retriever puppy is not a child.

Honey’s brother.

What Is A Responsible Breeder

A responsible breeder is not just a nice person who breeds two dogs and raises the litter in her home.

If you’re really curious about what a responsible hobby breeder is, read my post about selling puppies on eBay.

But I can tell you that Honey’s good start began generations before she was born. And was the result of many health tests and genetic reviews.

Honey’s breeder’s care with her parents and grandparents has given me a dog who is embarrassingly healthy, with no allergies, sensitivities, limps, bumps, or dinguses to worry about.

Honey the Golden Retriever as a cute puppy with her toy.

I’m sch a healthy girl. Certainly much healthier than this fluffy snake.

But more importantly, Honey was exposed to children, car rides, vacuum cleaners, senior citizens, medical equipment, and all kinds of other scary people and objects.

Socialization begins at birth. And a good start with an unstressed mama and caring humans results in a secure and happy puppy and adult dog.

5 Years Out – What I’ve Learned

I don’t see myself ever adopting another dog from a breeder. There are so many dogs who need good homes and I’m happy to adopt from a shelter.

But I’m thankful for my life with my nearly perfect puppy and I’ve learned a lot:

  • Personality will always trump socialization and training. Despite everyone’s best efforts Honey is a bit timid. It’s just who she is. While training and socialization are important, you can’t make a dog (or human) someone they’re not. And it’s unfair to try.
  • Every dog deserves the best start in life. Seeing first hand the benefits of a proper breeding and upbringing, nothing makes me sadder than to think of how much a puppy born carelessly is missing out on.
  • Knowing what “work” we wanted Honey to do with us from the start did help us raise a proper companion. Honey has been an excellent foster-sister.
  • Even perfect puppies with the best start in life are a pain in the butt. Yes, it’s a good thing they’re so cute.
  • Whether our dogs had the best start or the worst or something in between, we love each one more than we could ever expect.
Honey the golden retriever was a cute puppy.

I was the best puppy ever. When I wasn’t biting you and making you cry.

The Next Five Years

Honey is starting to get white hairs on her back and the base of her tail although not on her muzzle yet.

As we move closer to life together aboard a sailboat, I look forward to spending even more time with my sweet puppy.

I recently read a book by a woman who sailed with her dog (about Honey’s size) past the dog’s 18th birthday. Wouldn’t it be great to think I might be telling the same story of Honey someday?

Honey the Golden Retriever is dog tired of sailing.

All this sailing is hard wo–zzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Your Turn: Do you look back on your dog’s first days with you, whether as an adult or a puppy? Do you celebrate?


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  1. Welcome back! Every once in a while, we think back in time to when our older dog, Duster, was a puppy. He was terror on 4 paws, and many times I asked myself What was I thinking, getting a puppy? But we socialized him well and trained him in the basics, and today he is such a calm, confident guy. BTW, he is a Bernese x lab/golden. He looks like a Golden from stem to stern, just bigger and with a darker coat.
    Our younger dog, Zach is a Bernese that we adopted when he was about 4.5 months old. We’d missed most of the socialization window. We did our best, but he is not confident like our other dog. We do our best to help him with new experiences, but there’s a significant difference between he and Duster. Despite this, we love him to pieces and he is a real snuggler, which makes us very happy.
    We celebrate our luck in having these two boys every day.

    • As you saw with Duster and Zach, socialization is so important. I almost feel like all puppies should be raised to at least 8 months by responsible, committed people before they’re adopted out. Just think of how that would change life with dogs.

  2. Callie’s first day at home with us was June 7th, 2004; Shadow’s was December 7th, 2004 (yes, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day); and Ducky’s was September 17th, 2012. And yes, we celebrate but not with scads of photos all over social media. I’ll let Kristine have that fun with her cutie, Jynx. Besides, my girls aren’t small fuzzballs any more. And I don’t have room on my computer for all those photos. :)

    • What do you mean you don’t have room on your computer for all those photos? What are you saving the space for? Programs? Work? What a waste. :)

      It’s awesome that you remember everyone’s first day with you. I have to work to remember the adoption date for all my dogs. But I try not to feel too bad. I have to do the same thing for my wedding anniversary.

  3. What a great day indeed! I celebrate their Birthday but that is about it, besides Christmas and all the snackies in between.

  4. Luke was a pretty easy puppy, and even though he has his issues now, he’s a great dog. It’s hard to remember all the way back to when Cricket and Sheba were puppies. We had three puppies at the time, and the one thing I do remember is that I will never do that again! One at a time from now on will do it for me.
    Congrats on 5 years with Honey! It’s nice to be able to look back and know that you made the right decisions then, even if the road wasn’t always smooth.

  5. Even though we got both Jack & Maggie as seniors, we absolutely celebrate their “Gotcha Day”. They were both a challenge the first few months, so our celebration is we all made it through!

  6. I have had to avoid all Puppy day related stuff this year. I still get teary eyed looking at doggy stuff since my ex took BD.

  7. Aw, Honey was an adorable puppy! When I think back of Haley as a puppy, I laugh at how spunky and sassy she was. She was definitely full of herself!

    • There’s little more amusing that seeing a puppy all full of piss and vinegar. Especially when you know they’ll eventually grow up into a calm and sweet pup someday. :)

  8. We celebrate birthdays, not so much the gotcha days. Mom does say that each of her dogs gets a better and better life, though, as she learns more and more with each dog.

    • That is so true that each dog makes out better as we get smarter. I often wonder how much happier my first dogs would have been if I knew then what I know now.

      And your dogs certainly have awesome lives no matter how may formal celebrations you plan.

  9. Both Roxy and Torrey were such adorable little pups. I remember how much Roxy liked to snuggle, and how Torrey made us laugh everyday.

  10. I LOVE the puppy stage (I currently have a very bad case of puppy fever!) and would never consider it a pain in the butt! I do look back on Jimmy’s first days with us and wish Wilson had not been his sweet, tolerant self in those early days, and had given Jimmy what-for when he had the chance. Jimmy started down the road to being a bully on his very first day and Wilson didn’t correct him :-( While I did what I could, the correction needed to come from his new big brother.

    • I’ve had the same issue with Honey. It takes a lot before she’ll put a foster puppy in her place. Tolerance does have its downsides.

      For me, puppydom is a necessary evil to getting a great dog. But it’s people like you who make great service dog puppy raisers. Perhaps that’s something you’d consider someday?

  11. Not until Jax arrived did I realize just how ill Harley was 6 years ago. It makes me want to put out a hit on the puppy mill creep who was responsible. Jax is so super active, and the only memories I have of Harley at this age were sleeping, eating and constant trips to the vet. He was adorable and to this day, he’s my first puppy who stole my heart. I celebrate everyday with the two of them and the beautiful memories I have of Leo. Puppies are tremendous work, but the rewards are priceless.

    • Every moment of puppydom goes into developing great dogs. It worked for Harley. So I can only imagine how excellent Jax will turn out to be.

  12. I wish I had met my little Ziva and Dante when they were pups…I bet they were adorable!
    I actually really have enjoyed picking out young dogs (Dante and Ziva were both about a year when we adopted them).
    I like the older age because I knew what I was getting into, their quirks, struggles, and was willing and able to embrace/work with them through it because I could see the potential.
    We celebrate our estimated birthdays. :-) Dante we have a pretty good idea regarding his age, we were his third home before he turned 1 but we were able to kind of track backwards to him being born about August time. Sadly he was a pup from an irresponsible pet owner who failed to have her female spayed.
    Ziva was adopted at just under a year – again guessing…we don’t know her story but we’ve been lucky to so far only have a few allergy issues with both dogs and we have them under control. Love my pups!!

  13. I adopted my last mixed breed dog at 8 years old. Because I wanted to know what she looked like as a puppy, I googled puppy pics of mixes that she resembled. Perhaps you want to look for pittie puppies who share Dante and Ziva’s coloring so you can imagine what they looked like.

  14. Edie Chase says:

    Happy Gotcha Day Honey!!!

  15. Happy Gotcha Day Honey :) I don’t know Frankie’s birthday so I gave him February 14th, which is about when it would be. I have no puppy photos of any of my 3 :( But I’ve made up for that since getting them! Beryl is 8 1/2 now and her beautiful face is getting a bit grey, so is Frankie’s. Anyway, we celebrate Gotcha Days and Birthdays and every day in between … most of the time 😉 I’m looking forward to us all growing old together, cos I’m old(ish) already!

    • Actually, you’ve benefited from adopting the dogs as adults. If they were all puppies when you got them, all your pictures would be of little creatures pooping, peeing, and sleeping. :)

  16. Honey was cute! My bipeds still laugh about when I was a pup – although at the time some of the things weren’t so funny. I took some convincing to stop biting them!

  17. I feel like I have been a little cheated since I didn’t get Blueberry until she was 5. But that just makes me treasure the time I do have with her even more. She’ll be 9 this year; but that’s peanuts. She could very well live another 8 years! I do wish someone, somewhere had pictures of her as a puppy though. Can you imagine the cuteness??? I’ve actually looked in Google images several times trying to find a puppy that resembles her, but with no success.

    • OMD, you’ve happened on the perfect new business idea! How about a service where you send a picture of your mixed breed dog to someone who uses a computer to create a puppy likeness?

      It shouldn’t be too hard since most of the changes will be proportional. And prick eared dogs are usually floppier as puppies. I think it could totally work.

      I would totally pay for that. Would you?