My first golden retriever puppy walked into my life and my heart in 1986, and that was it for me. I knew this was my breed. Soon, I had a second golden, and several other goldens were interspersed throughout the homes of my extended family. I bred those first two dogs and had a litter of three, but I didn't really know what I was doing, and it was mostly luck that things went well. I did health test, but back then, the health concerns for goldens were not as great as they are today, and the type of extensive health testing we do now was not even an option. Many of today's genetic and health concerns were not yet even on breeders' radar. Those first two dogs sparked my interest in goldens, but life got in the way of my taking things further. After a few years without a dog while moving around the world for the US Navy, I got my Libby in 2009 from a good family friend that occasionally showed and bred goldens. That was a stroke of great luck. Libby, Graceken Highmark Hope For Liberty Risk OD, was the one who really got me started doing things the right way. A beautiful dog with a wonderful disposition, Libby also got all her health clearances including OFA excellent graded hips, so her breeder and I decided she should be bred. I did my first breeding under the Età D'Oro kennel name in 2012, and was fortunate to decide to breed Libby with Cindy Williamson's Sport, CH Lycinan's Good Sport CD OS. The pups were very nice, and I was lucky to find a show home for one of the boys. I learned about all things dog show with one of the girls, making my first forays into the breed and rally rings with Cuddy as my guinea pig. Those two dogs were my first two CH, my first two GCH, and my first dogs with performance titles. A repeat breeding produced another CH, and I put an RA on him, as well. Those three dogs were Libby's qualifying progeny for Outstanding Dam. One of those GCH, my Cuddy, has had a number of litters herself, and already has her first OD qualifying progeny. I am hugely grateful to my breeder mentors for helping me get here.
Several of Cuddy's pups have titles or are well on their way to titles in Conformation, Agility, Rally, Obedience, Nose Work, Tracking, and Dock Diving. Several other of her young pups are training in field and hunt test, as gun dogs, in obedience and agility, and conformation. These are beautiful, correct, intelligent and versatile dogs. One Sport x Libby pup living in Canada has produced well, and Gordie, the CH from the repeat Sport x Libby breeding, is now siring litters. I look forward to seeing those pups mature. I do the majority of the handling for my personal dogs myself, and have gotten one of Cuddy's pups that I co-own 2/3 of the way to her championship. I train and handle my dogs for their rally trials.
While it's always a thrill when one of my pups gets a title, the majority of my pups go to companion homes. Even the working and performing dogs are also much loved pets. I am not breeding to get the next great winning dog, but to produce dogs that have the smarts and personalities to do well at anything, whether that means hanging out with the family, playing with the kids, retrieving ducks, or competing in one of the performance disciplines. My goal is to breed dogs that will be healthy and long-lived. They also are correct, meaning they meet the breed standard, and therefore can do well in the conformation ring. I very carefully research the pedigrees when I plan a breeding, I extensively health test my breeding dogs, and I stay in touch with the people who buy my puppies. I keep track of how the pups mature, and am always available to answer questions and provide assistance. None of my dogs will ever need to end up in a rescue - I get to know my buyers as well as I can before they take their pups home, and they all know I will welcome their dog back at any point if the need arises. I'm very happy that some of my puppy buyers have become my friends, and every litter I get more evidence that Golden Retriever people are GReat people!