The picture above shows Holly (left) and Willow (right) fully grown at 4 years 6 months old. They are litter mates and were born on 29/08/06.
This page is somewhat out of date, and as I am trying to familiarize myself with the new webbuilder it will probably be sometime before I update this! Sorry for
this, Rob September 2016.
Willow and Holly are decended from working Golden Retrievers which are naturally smaller than the goldies that are seen at crufts and other dog shows. Both Holly and Willow are now fully grown and weigh approx. 23 - 24kg (55 pounds). Willow is mainly golden with white flecks, whilst Holly is a darker golden with just a couple of white patches.
Pippin is Holly's daughter (sired by Jambo) and she was born on 9th Sept 2010. Pip is being trained primarily as a pet, with some retrieving skills. We are working on her steadiness before we decide whether to train her for competition. She's a very keen, intelligent, alert dog, fast across the ground and fearless (she was the only one who jumped off the new patio without encouragement). Maple is Willow's daughter (sired by Lancer), being born on 2nd May 2011. She's a very steady dog even at 15 months, eager to learn and to please. Maple has already competed in one novice field test and performed quite well considering she was the youngest dog at the test. Over the winter we aim to improve her control and her ability to work under instruction at distance.
Our girls have been brought up as family pets, enjoying the freedom of the house. They dont want to go upstairs (as it usually means its shower time) and have never chewed or clawed any of the house. All our girls are crate trained (from puppies) and love the sancturary of their own beds when they want it. Holly and Willow now have the freedom of the downstairs, but we still use their crates when they are in season. They still enjoy the peace and quiet when in their crates. Pippin and Maple are usually out during the day and sleep in their crates at night time or when we have visitors. Some people seem a little overwhelmed when 5 goldies greet them at the door!
Willow (left) and Holly as puppies (10 weeks old)
Training these intelligent girls is easy and apart from the usual voice commands, I have managed through their training to get them to respond to just hand commands (not using my voice) for the basics of sit, down, stay and come. The main difficulty with this is trying to make each hand command visually distinct for the dogs to recognise.
They also respond to whistled commands. This is not with the stereotypical "dog" whistle, but with a whistle that can also be heard by humans. We use a "falling" whistle tone for sit, and four "peeps" for come. The come whistle is varied depending on whether its a come right back to me, or come closer. This is used when retrieving and a dog has overshot the mark. Even for a pet dog, it seems so much easier when in the park just to blow a whistle, rather than having to shout the dogs' name and "come". The whistle also carries over greater distances so its much more effective (and impresses other dog owners as well!!!)
Above all, our girls are great family pets with a friendly, relaxed temperament. Our cat, Angie (also a golden ginger!) gets along fine with all of our pack. Its quite funny really as the girls want to be friends with all the cats we see when we're out walking. Unfortunately some of the cats aren't so friendly in return!
Walking - a rather controversial subject - how much, how long, etc etc. Well, for the first year our girls maximum length was for 10 minutes twice a day. The vet who took the X rays for the hip scores (see aims as breeders) said, "You wouldn't make a baby walk 10 miles would you?" This is just as applicable for dogs. During the first year or so the bones and joints are developing and excessive walking at this stage can do long term damage leading to problems later in the dogs life. This is true for ALL dogs. Now that our girls are fully grown, They have a walk of 30 - 45 minutes duration nearly every day. This is quite enough and a walked dog is a happy dog. If, however, for any reason they don't get a walk, they seem just as content to spend their time cuddling us ( or the cat! ). They do enjoy a good walk usually once a week through plymbridge (our local wooded area) which can last upto 2 hours, depending upon whether our dawdling 11 year old son comes along or not. (He usually gets bribed with a Mcdonalds ice cream at the end of the walk)
Holly (left) and Willow watching the TV one evening, "Oi Willow pass me the remote, Mums not watching and I cant stand the X factor" !!!