Tales of Tails

The SMALL bowl is yours....

The SMALL bowl is yours….

Almost a year ago we adopted two eight year old golden retrievers. They were a bonded pair so needed to be placed together and we had more than enough space on our 5 acres for them both to run and play. Suffice to say none of us have been quite the same since.

When they arrived Bo (the large, goofy blonde) and Mia (the smaller, mischievous  redhead) were fresh from the spa – groomed to perfection. They had clearly been well loved but since they had not had the opportunity to play outside very much their paws were initially too tender to walk on gravel. A few strategically placed dog towels helped navigate the distance from the door to the grass in those early days while they toughened up.

Still looking like a spa dog - meet Bo

Still looking like a spa dog – meet Bo

Retrievers are serious people-pleasers and for months these two wanted to stay together – and as close as possible to us. I'm sure it was all very disorienting for them suddenly going from a city apartment to a house in the middle of a huge field as well as a change in 'their people'.

Mia was a lot more pensive at first

Mia was a lot more pensive at first

Fast forward to today and these are two very happy, healthy, albeit it NON spa-like dogs. They love to roam the trails either together or independently, will run laps through the meadow for no apparent reason other than the sheer joy of doing so, get praised for chasing deer and rabbits – but not so much for helping to harvest the strawberries. (Yes and they understand that word). Their designer looks are rather ruffled but that's just fine with us.


I realize this is a garden blog so this post is something of a digression. I have included this glimpse into our world of fur to encourage those who may be thinking of getting or adopting a dog to consider taking an adult. Certainly the training or re-training is not as easy but we have successfully taught Bo and Mia to stay out of garden beds and have never had any problems with them digging. We definitely had a few episodes of Bo chewing stones and Mia shredding every stick she could lay her paws on (in 5 acres that's quite a lot) and created considerable mulch piles on the patio. We also seem to continually mow tennis balls since our retrievers don't seem too hot on the actual retrieve.

Really, there are plenty of leaves for both of you....

Really, there are plenty of leaves for both of you….

They are my gardening buddies, following me around and waiting patiently in the shade as I work. (It took them a while to figure out that shadows equated to cooler temperatures). Mia is also quite the barn dog and loves being underfoot in the workshop. Bo prefers his tennis balls.

We'll never have a pristine garden, or pristine dogs but that's OK. Our garden seems more complete with them anyway.


  1. Barb Beshears on June 11, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I am so happy for you! Back here in Illinois, I volunteer with a golden retriever rescue group! Thanks for rescuing two more beauties. While your article may have digressed, i enjoyed it thoroughly!!

  2. Karen Chapman on June 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you Barb. So many garden lovers are also dog lovers and they are our garden companions. I had hoped my readers wouldn't mind the slight digression and I'm glad that you enjoyed it. These two pups (in their minds at least) were found through the Seattle Golden Rescue

  3. Carolyn on June 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Dear Karen,

    it was a nice surprise to know have two old retrievers as a good company and the natural way they've gotten adapted and happy in their new place with their new "pack" (I mean you and your husband).