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The Yankee Express

Living ON with Lincoln Patience and OPGs

Hanging with Ellie.

By Amy LeClaire
It’s getting real. My puppy, the first of a projected two, is on its way this year. Well, almost. We are number eleven on a list we were fortunate enough to be placed on last June, thanks to Lincoln.  Just as he had squared his head to the Dunkin’ Donuts servers at the drive-through window, he made his presence known, again, while my husband relayed our Golden history to Cloverdale’s owner. We came to find out that Lincoln’s genes are actually entwined with those of her dogs. He was a Twin Beau D pup, son of Tickles and Sox, grandson of the remarkable Sir, a champion in his day. Twin Beau D and Cloverdale dogs had collaborated in the past to breed the healthy, widely admired and sought out show dogs we’re about to join hands with.  You’re doing the right thing, Mom. This is my family. These puppies are my cousins. Of course, there’s only one Lincoln, but you can do this again. You have my blessing. Just please don’t give him the light blue ball. 


We sent our deposit in last June and, since then, have practiced the fine art of patience while living vicariously through OPG’s, that is, Other People’s Goldens. “Hello sweet girl!” I visited my neighbor’s sweet Golden, Ellie, and made friends with the magnificent Henry of Cloverdale (a distant cousin of Lincoln’s) who came over to visit. I even became tempted (last summer) by OPL, Other People’s Litters.
“Let’s do it!”  I took a ride with a neighbor who had recently lost her girl to check out a Golden litter just born. The experience confirmed for me the importance of researching breeders and avoiding the temptation to purchase in haste. “We can get our pups together! A friend of a friend at work says there are a few available! We’re so lucky!” There was something suspiciously quick and easy about the sudden litter upon me. “I’ll pick you up at noon!” But the thought of puppy playdates and puppy smells and all things puppy led us through winding, desolate back roads and, finally, to an overcrowded dog home, the stench and squalor of which has yet to leave my mind. 
Don’t get me wrong. An immaculate home does not necessarily translate to a happy home, for dogs or humans. Dogs are messy and hairy. So aren’t people. I’ve seen enough college dormitory rooms (and bathrooms) to deem the lifestyle of a college student to be a public health hazard. But I’ll say this. Feces does not belong on a frying pan. I have a soft spot for dogs (after all, my first column written here happens to be Why I Like Dogs More than Humans) and share the Dog Person belief that dogs love us unconditionally and deserve the same back. Amid a life that is heartbreakingly short, our pets are not stuffed animals to squeeze when we need a hug, or leave when we need to be elsewhere. They deserve attention, training, resources, and the healthiest of nutritional practices. They don’t deserve to be twenty-five pounds overweight (the stud of the litter we had inspected, the Puff Daddy, was unhealthily puffy) or confined to a lifestyle designed for human needs alone. They don’t deserve to be anxious and rambunctious due to improper training and attention. They deserve our best. 
My neighbor and I left enlightened. The backyard breeder came with too many questions, stenches, and a family tree more gangly than a skeleton. Who was the Daddy again?  
Awakened by a better attitude - to be patient - I chose to live vicariously through Goldens on the loose (breweries are notably full of them) which are easy enough to hang with. I held the paw of Draper, a reddish Golden from Pennsylvania, swapped Golden stories with the owner of Mable, a feisty girl from New York, and learned about Lucky, a rescue from Connecticut who found his forever home. Goldens are socialites. They’ll lift their chins and smile while we talk about them, as though to say, “Aren’t we the best?” They listen to you. “Lincoln sounded like so much fun. I like balls too. But I’m more of a Frisbie guy.” 
OPGs have kept me a believer.   
My husband, a technologist, copes with our dogless household by watching (and sending me) reels upon reels of video clips featuring goldens with a larger Instagram following than the president. “Look at this one!” A Golden Daddy hovers at the edge of a pool while a puppy, possibly his own, paddles and learns to swim for the first time. Another happy Golden trots across a lawn with the swaddle-hammock of a new puppy clutched in his mouth. One walks along a treadmill above a tank of water. Then came my favorite, that of two adult Goldens making friends with a baby fawn in the woods. Instagram Goldens are remarkable, I think to myself, but my puppy will be better. My puppy will be almost as good as Lincoln, and that’s still saying a lot. 
We live in an era allowing a moment in time to be caught, saved and stored. Given the appeal of the breed, taking advantage of the ability to create a snapshot to be relived over and over again is not surprising. Golden joy is contagious!  Ironically, while Golden popularity grows, so do waiting lists. Patience remains the operative word. All good things take time, and all puppies deserve our best. All puppies deserve to live as Lincoln did. “I second that,” he tells me from the sky. I smile and whisper back to him, “He’ll never be you, but he’ll have an extraordinary life. And he’ll be loved. Oh, how he’ll be loved, Lincoln.”  
Stay tuned for more on Living On with Lincoln and updates on puppy news!
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