My husband and I had just purchased our first home and we were excited about having a place of our own with a large yard. We had both worked in a pet store throughout college and were eager to be able to have pets of our own. Of course, his idea of pets was cats and aquariums and mine was dogs and rabbits. I convinced him that we absolutely needed a Golden Retriever, which I had wanted since a very young child. Having researched the breed for many years, I already knew several breeders and enthusiasts and was prepared to devote at least a year to finding that "ideal" breeder and being on a waiting list.
The week after closing on our new home, we traveled halfway across the US to visit my family. On the way back from visiting my grandmother, my mom noticed a truck on the side of the road advertising Golden Retriever Puppies for sale. She asked if I wanted to stop and I said no. Seeing a friend there, she pulled in anyway. It was pouring down rain and these now soggy little bundles of fluff were playing with some trash in the back of a pickup truck. Long story short, the family's older son had bred the family's two hunting dogs because they were AKC registered and he thought he could make some money. Thirteen puppies and four months later, he was still struggling to get rid of the last few. Dad sent him out to get rid of them that weekend and threatened to "take care of them" should he return with any. There were three puppies left at this point. My mother's friend was trying to decide between the only female and the one male that actually looked presentable. They chose the male. The remaining male and the female were both covered in disgusting sores, smelled awful, and had very thin coats. They were larger than average for four months old, but very skinny and hardly looked like a golden retriever. It came out in conversation that I worked at a vet school. The kid selling the puppies begged me to take the girl (another family had come and was interested in the other boy). Not only did the little girl clearly need medical attention, but in those five minutes, behavioral issues were already evident as she sat in the back of the truck growling and snapping at her siblings if they came near "her" trash. I couldn't stand the thought of the puppy going back and being drowned or whatever other horrible end the father had in mind, so I took her. Over $1,000 spent on specialist care and several months later, she was healthy...or as healthy as she would ever be. Throughout her 12 years, Casey had to be kept trim and fit due to hip dysplasia. She had severe allergies and continued to have sores during certain times of the year. She was afraid of nearly everything, making it difficult to take her places. Just a walk down the street was challenging as she thought every mailbox or trashcan was going to attack her. Even so, I would not have traded her for anything because, after working through the initial resource guarding issues, she had the sweetest personality in the world. Having her in my life taught me so much about the importance of careful breeding, early socialization and training, and most importantly, generations of health screening. For several years after bringing Casey into our lives, we did lab and golden rescue and had several fosters in and out of our home. We ended up keeping one of them, Abby, who lived to just shy of 17 years old, because she had been through so much and we did not feel like she could adapt to another new home again. She was also very sweet, but had myriad health and behavioral issues.
In 2007, I began to look for a breeder. I loved my "kids" dearly, but I had been interested in doing therapy work and competing in obedience and agility for years. I could not do that with my rescue girls, no matter how much training and socialization I put them through. It just wasn't going to happen.
In July 2008, I flew to Wisconsin to visit Steven and Susan Scherber of Sunshine Kennels to pick up my first responsibly bred golden retriever puppy. I was taking a huge chance with this...spending a lot of money for a dog, agreeing to a contract that I would earn titles on said dog, and actually planning for the first time NOT to neuter an animal in my house. It was a big step. The Scherbers took a huge chance on me, too. I had no show experience, no references...I only had a photo album of life with my girls and a love for golden retrievers. And that is where "Chance" got his name. It was a big change, spending so much up front for a dog, but I have never regretted it for a second. In his 12 years, he cost far less than my rescue dogs in vet bills, was extremely easy to train, and was just an absolute joy to be around. I could confidently take him anywhere and we tried a little bit of every performance venue a golden is welcome in and loved every moment of it.
Still interested in genetics and in breed improvement, I kept an eye on what Sunshine Kennels was up to. I found another breeding that I loved the pedigree of and flew to WI again in November 2009 to pick up the sweetest puppy I'd ever met...Bailey. All she wanted to do was cuddle...it was a cold winter and I let her. I later questioned that judgment from time to time! Bailey was a complete opposite to Chance in many ways. She learned differently, so was different to train. Not difficult, but I had to greatly expand my training knowledge. She was not food motivated and got bored very quickly. At times it was frustrating, but I'm thankful for the experience because it made me a better trainer. It's also nice to have a lower-key dog sometimes. Chance was a bit over enthusiastic about...well...life in general. Bailey was much more reserved. After earning titles on both dogs and completing all of their health clearances, Susan released full registration to me. Under her guidance, in 2012, Maywood Kennels/Maywood Goldens was born as the "First" litter arrived on our wedding anniversary!
From the "First" Litter breeding, we have seen that the combination of Chance and Bailey's personalities, physical characteristics, and pedigrees resulted in some truly phenomenal goldens who can excel in a variety of performance events while still being a perfect companion at home. Not only was I able to pursue my competition goals with Chance and Bailey, but I had the opportunity to do therapy work with both of them. And even more importantly are the puppies they produced who have excelled as family pets, competition partners, and several who successfully graduated from service dog programs to become life-saving working dogs. This was a long term goal of mine from the very beginning, and I am so grateful I was able to achieve it from the very first litter.
Today we enjoy sharing our home with the legacy those first two Sunshine goldens left behind and strive to continue to produce healthy, stable, and versatile puppies that are true to what the breed was meant to be.