February 22, 2023

When I arrived home last night I found Melissa sitting in my chair with a strange dog in her lap.  I was taken back as Melissa said, “Say Hi to Zena’s little brother!”  I assumed this was a friend’s dog who we had been asked to puppy sit.  We had talked about the possibility of getting a second dog to keep Zena company and had gone back and forth over the extra work and the need to expand the fenced portion of our back yard.  When we took Zena to meet the two year old Pyrenees female we were considering they were not compatible, and I thought this was the end of the conversation.  I was apparently wrong.  The 12 week old Golden Retriever sitting in Melissa’s lap was our new addition.  My first thought was this puppy may have been designed to serve as my penance during Lent as it will take about that long to house train him.  We named him Loki, for the Norse trickster god.

When I looked online, I found the Golden Retriever (Canis Lupus) is a Scottish breed of retriever dog of medium size characterized by a gentle and affectionate nature.  It is a common pet and is among the most frequently registered breeds in several Western countries.  The Golden is a frequent competitor in dog shows and obedience trials, is used as a gundog, and may be trained for use as a guide dog.  Males average 22 to 24 inches high (56–61 cm), females 20 to 22 inches (51–56 cm), and weight for both ranges from 55 to 75 pounds (25–34 kg).  The breed was created by the Baron of Tweedmouth, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, at his Scottish estate in the late nineteenth century.  The Baron cross-bred Flat-coated Retrievers with Tweed Water Spaniels, along with infusions of Red Setter, Labrador Retriever, and Bloodhound.  The breed is intended to be a superior hunting dog that retrieves dead game from rugged terrain on land or water.  The Golden is a hardy dog breed with a lustrous double coat of orange, golden, or light-colored fur that can tolerate cold water during winter hunting months and deal with felled fowl.  The breed was recognized by the Kennel Club in 1913.

I was surprised when Melissa told me she had bought Loki without allowing Zena to meet him first.  She had read that bringing a smaller male puppy into Zena’s environment would let him be more readily accepted.  When I got home the two had been getting to know each other for two hours.  They mostly get along, but Zena plays rough, especially with her power paw whacks she has recently learned.  I warned Zena she had better be careful since Loki will grow to be nearly her size.  They got along well the first night and although we keep them separated while feeding, they share the water bowl without problems.  Perhaps Melissa was correct in thinking this would provide an outlet for some of Zena’s energy, as the two sat in my office today and played an extended game of “tugga” with one of Zena’s ropes.  Now I just need to get the fence installed.

THOUGHTS:  Golden Retrievers are a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12 to 13 years, but the breed is unusually prone to cancer.  One US study found cancer to be the cause of death in approximately 50% of the population, the second highest in the study.  The high prevalence of cancer deaths among Golden retrievers may partly represent a lack of other congenital diseases.  There is some research that indicates if males live long enough, they will eventually get prostate cancer.  Risk increases as you age, and it is most common after the age of 50 years.  Although it is not known why, Black men have a greater risk of prostate cancer, and the cancer is likely to be more aggressive.  Obesity can cause the same risk and aggressiveness.  The Golden is described as a great family dog with a comparable lifespan as other dogs their size, despite the prevalence of cancer.  The key is to monitor and keep them healthy.  The same could be said for protecting human males.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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