My golden retriever story

Hazel (Hazel of Kenwood)

Hazel came home with us in March 1981. At that time I was living in a small flat with no garden. I worked full time, often at weekends and frequently did twelve hour days. On paper, maybe I wasn’t the ideal owner of a new large breed puppy. However, this puppy fitted seamlessly into my life. She came to work with me and immediately made herself at home at the reception area of the practice. She enjoyed long walks on the beach, in Gosforth park and in the Northumberland countryside. She loved visiting my family and playing with Ben and Fergus in the garden. She went everywhere with me. She even came to our wedding in 1982, presenting me with a horseshoe although she did a quick circuit of the lawn outside the hotel first and gave it to my husband Bernie before eventually giving it to me. She had a very well developed retrieve and was happiest carrying all manner of objects around. She could distribute Christmas and birthday presents to the correct recipients in a group which she did with a very waggy tail and a huge grin on her face.

We xrayed her hips when she was old enough and I started to formulate plans to have a litter from her. The sole purpose of this venture was to have a Hazel dynasty in perpetuity by keeping a daughter and breeding from her and so on. She was four years old before I finally took the plunge. I had started visiting dog shows to look for a suitable mate and at one show in nearby Darlington, I came across a lovely dog resting on the benches. I returned later to meet his owner, Lyn Anderson, a very well known and respected breeder who I have remained friends with ever since. The dog, Linchael Casamayor, had exactly the temperament and appearance I was looking for. She was mated to him with no success. Undaunted, I tried again a year or so later and this time she conceived. Unbelievably to most breeders and vets nowadays, we had no access to ultrasound scanning and the timing of matings was rather crudely assessed using cytology from vaginal smears. ( I became quite proficient at this). So Hazel’s pregnancy proceeded uneventfully, or so I thought. At about the sixth week she had a nasty vaginal discharge which we treated with antibiotics. Today, an ultrasound scan would have been performed to rule out pyometra (a womb infection) but as she seemed well in her self I let nature take its course. I could see some movement of the puppies when she was resting so assumed all was well. Finally, when she reached the end of her pregnancy she needed a Caesarian section which resulted in the delivery of three dead puppies. Two had presumably died at about the time of the discharge starting and one had lived till the end. It was his movement I had seen. Hazel was spayed shortly afterwards and I didn’t think of breeding another litter of puppies for nearly thirty years.

Linchael Festoon (Heather)

Lyn Anderson then let me have a lovely bitch puppy from a litter she had in 1987. Heather was the result of a mating between Linchael Wild Cherry and Bramhills Pied Piper at Almerak. She was a sweet soul and became a much loved member of our family. In the years following Heather’s arrival, we had three children so breeding from her was never considered. Hazel died in 1993 and sadly we lost Heather the following year.

Linchael Charity (Harry) and Linchael Impasse (Hayley)

We now found ourselves without a dog for the first time. In fact, this short period in 1994 is the only time in my adult life I have been without a golden retriever. Fortunately, Lyn had a litter that year and Harry joined us one very hot August day. The first thing he did was get stung by a bee! Owning a male was a very different experience for many reasons but Harry was the perfect family dog accompanying us on many holidays and long walks. A couple of years later we added another Linchael puppy (Hayley) by Kanteal Most Positive out of Linchael Tzaril. Harry and Hayley were my children’s best friends and companions.

Harry died in 2006 and Hayley seemed a bit lost without her friend.

Mulfield Antigua at Garmoran (Hester)

There were no puppies planned at the Linchael kennel that year so I started looking for alternatives. I approached a few breeders and always seemed to get in touch just as the last puppy in the litter was sold. One day, I saw a litter advertised on “Champdogs” which caught my eye. The maternal grandfather of this litter was Linchael Vivaldi, Lyn’s champion dog and the advert also stated the magic words “due to time wasters” a puppy was available unexpectedly. I phoned the breeder, Jean Griggs, right away. We visited the litter as soon as we could and took Hester home with us in May 2007. She was an incredible puppy. Beautiful and trainable but with a cheeky personality. Her sire was Suzy Golder’s beautiful champion Summeramba Stilton. Hayley tolerated her well enough but she never took Harry’s place in her eyes.


I started taking Hester to ringcraft classes as I thought this might be a good way to socialise her with other dogs. She loved snuggling up with the calm adult dogs which attended the class particularly a lovely English setter called Rowan. The trainers at the class suggested I enter a few dog shows so I went straight in at the deep end and entered Manchester championship show. The usual advice is to start with small local shows! Hester and me were complete novices and, at this first show we ended up unplaced.

Mulfield Juno at Garmoran (Heidi)

By now, I had become very friendly with Hester’s breeder, Jean Griggs, and went to see a litter she bred in 2008 out of Hester’s mum Mulfield Moonlight by Gunhills Dancing Trumpet at Coombstock. I pretended to myself that I was just going to look at the puppies! They were stunning puppies and there was a bitch available. We called her Heidi and she came home with us on the August bank holiday. Jean had let me have one of the two best show quality puppies in the litter which was extremely kind of her. Jean retained the other puppy, Mulfield Fortuna, who was a very special dog both in the show ring and later as a breeding dog. Heidi was the most beautiful puppy we had ever seen and I settled down to trying to train her as a show dog. (See blog post about my showing experiences)

Heidi, the most beautiful puppy

Garmoran Electra (Freya)

In 2011 we added Freya to our family of goldens. She was our favourite puppy from Hester’s litter (see blog about breeding). She was never a show dog but was very trainable and achieved her KC good citizens Gold award. She has a great character and makes us laugh most days. She has twice attended the London Vet Show as a demo dog on a stand demonstrating hydrotherapy. She had to tolerate large crowds both in and around the venue which she managed with ease.