SpiceRidge Kennels
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About Us and Our Walk With Dogs

Sheryle's Story about Our Walk With Dogs

In 1993, when my son David was ten, it was clear that he was ready for a good canine friend. I looked in the paper and found a nice couple who had a sweet litter of Golden Retrievers, and “David’s Golden Knight of Sunshine,” or Toby, was brought home cradled in this young boy’s arms. Toby was “all that and more,” demonstrating early loyalty to his adoptive family and maturing to be a steady, reliable, fun and loving dog. He loved the water, scent-chasing the kids through the woods in the evening, he loved his food bowl, and he loved David.

In 1996, when Toby was three, we became a two Golden Retriever household with the addition of “Boomer.” My then twelve-year old daughter Molly chose her from a rambunctious litter of dark Goldens, almost red-heads, whelped in the mountains of North Carolina.  Boomer and light coated Toby made a striking couple (spayed and neutered), living happily together for a decade plus. Boomer proved sweet and easy to train. 

This picture is of Boomer, who was the ring bearer at my wedding to Dan in 2008.  She sat quietly at my mother's feet until she was called over to present the rings, at which time she went back to her place and fell asleep! Both dogs lived until their fourteenth year, and now rest side by side under the Chaste Tree in our backyard. 

While I would wish everyone to have dogs as sweet and loving as Toby and Boomer, I would also wish them to choose WELL BRED, health tested representatives of whatever breed they decide upon. Both Toby and Boomer lived into their later years – and while it was a joy to have them, it was hard to watch them struggle with their genetically-inherited arthritis and eye problems. Boomer lived with pain from arthritis in her shoulders, making even brief trips outside agonizing for her as she grew older. Toby lost a great deal of his vision to cataracts, and they each suffered from breed related allergies which caused annoying skin irritations, requiring medication to remain comfortable. Although old-age is inevitable, careful breeding can reduce the incidence of problems. Purchasing an "AKC Registered" puppy does not mean that your puppy's breeder did everything possible to justify a healthy breeding.  Our desire is to join with other responsible breeders by presenting puppies from healthy, health-tested dogs.

Dan's Story about Our Walk With Dogs

I have had dogs all of my life. We mostly had shelter dogs, mixed breeds. They were wonderful dogs and beloved members of the family. They were lap warmers during the long winters. They spent the summers catching frisbees. They were pillows as we watched the late show, and no dropped popcorn ever needed to be vacuumed up. They were present at every family celebration and in most of the photographs. As good dog-owners we always had our dogs spayed, so there were never any puppies at our house. Later we had purebred dogs, but we had them spayed too.
As I joined Sheryle's family, I fell in love with her Golden Retrievers. They are the breed, of all breeds, most oriented to being with people. They are gentle, good with children, smart, and patient. They love without reservation. They are a good example to all of us.

One day Sheryle and I started a conversation about "what we wanted to add to our life" and the conversation led around to Golden Retrievers and puppies. I don't want to overstate this, but we'd like to make the world a better place by filling it with Golden Retrievers!  And if you have ever spent much time with this sweet breed you'll know what I mean.

So we researched and looked around. And luckily we just happened to know a couple who were breeding Golden Retrievers, and they were a little more experienced in their walk with dogs. They had very good purebred Goldens.  As you can see from the picture, we got one that could read!

I did not like the idea behind the word "purebred," but spending time with well-bred dogs has convinced me that it is a very good thing. "Purity" is not really the point, but careful healthy breeding is the whole goal. And because generations of people have been carefully breeding Golden Retrievers, my dog is calm and healthy, a natural athlete, and possesses the classic Golden Retriever personality. She is Tibbie, the best dog I have ever had.

Golden Retrievers are a Scottish breed.  So as we looked for names for our new puppy, we looked into the works of Robert Burns, the great poet of Scotland. He wrote a poem for a girl he was wooing, a girl named Tibbie Dunbar.

                O wilt thou go wi’ me, sweet Tibbie Dunbar,
                O wilt thou go wi’ me, sweet Tibbie Dunbar?
                Wilt thou ride on a horse, or be drawn in a cart,
                Or walk by my side, sweet Tibbie Dunbar?

                I care na thy daddie, his land or his money.
                I care na thy kin, saw high and sae lordly.
                But say that thou’lt hae me for better or waur,
                And come in your coatie, sweet Tibbie Dunbar.

                I offer you naethin’ in silver or land.
                What man could determine the price o’ your hand?
                But gie me your consent we’d be richer by far.
                O wilt thou go wi’ me, sweet Tibbie Dunbar?

                O wilt thou be known as a poor beggar’s lady,
                And sleep in the heather well wrapt in my plaidie?
                The sky for a roof and your candle a star,
                My love for a fire, sweet Tibbie Dunbar.

We already knew she was a sweet dog, and at the end there, it's easy to imagine a nice walk with the dog, so we had our name. And every so often I'll call the dog in my best Scottish accent (said to resemble Scrooge McDuck), "Come walk by my side, Sweet Tibbie Dunbar!"  

When we bred Tibbie and she had a remarkable and athletic daughter that we decided to keep, we turned again to Robert Burns to name her.  There seem to be no lack of poems Burns romantically wrote to sweet Scottish girls. He put together a long song to his "Highland Lassie."  In one stanza he writes:

    She has my heart, she has my hand, 
    By secret troth and honour's band!

    Till the mortal stroke shall lay me low,
    I'm thine, my Highland lassie, O.

And that is how we came to name her Lassie.

What About the Little Fluffy Dog?

One day, when we had two Golden Retrievers in the house, old Boomer and young Tibbie, workmen came and measured the back of our property to bid on some work. They were strangers in the yard shouting to each other. The Golden Retrievers did not bark, not once. They welcomed them as guests. That day we decided to get one more dog who would bark.

We researched it very carefully. We did not want a "yappy dog," nor a nervous one. No terriers to dig in the yard. No biting dogs. No dogs that have to be run for an hour each night. No slobbering dogs. You'd be surprised at how much those few criteria narrow down the selection of breeds. We eventually found the breed called the "Havanese." They are small dogs with a beautiful, non-shedding coat that may change colors as they mature. And they bark, but they don't go nuts about it.  After we went to dog shows and spent some time with the breed, we knew we had our winner.  Read more about the breed under the tab, "About Our Girls."
And so we searched for a Havanese puppy to bring into our family.  And searched.  And searched.  We made many home visits, interviews, and were interviewed. We realized how lucky we had been in finding Tibbie locally -and from such wonderful people and responsible breeders!  After almost a year of seaching, we found a loving and reputable breeder of Havanese on the east coast of Florida who was anticipating an imminent breeding of her superb bitch to an awesome stud. The 63 days we waited for the birth announcement dragged on and on and on and on.

Finally the puppies came, and at eight weeks we brought home our little powerhouse, who 
we named “Pooka.” She is the protector of the home, show dog extraordinaire, and rough and tumble play friend of Tibbie.

In choosing her AKC registered name, we wanted to refer to her Cuban heritage, and so we researched Spanish phrases and idioms that might fit. We were told of an idiom from South America, “agua de Mayo”, or “rain of May,” which refers to something eagerly anticipated, a great joy on its arrival. What better name for our little girl than “Palmbrese Agua de Mayo Sweet Dreams.”

Her call name, "Pooka," comes from a great old Jimmy Stewart movie, "Harvey."  Jimmy Stewart plays a sweet man who might be insane because he has a six-foot rabbit for a friend, and only he can see it.  He says the rabbit is really a magical creature (that can look any way it wants to), and the name for this magical creature is a "pooka," a sort of pixie.  We liked that idea too, and it fits her magical personality and ever-changing coat!



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