So, it’s official. I am a dog mum! This wee bundle of cuddles arrived with us last Friday (lock down, social distancing protocol was of course adhered to) and has already changed our lives for the better. Our Golden Retriever puppy is called Nonny and we are head-over-heels in love with her already. In tribute to our wee bundle of floof and the joy she has brought to our lives, I’ve decided to re-title the blog, Dear Scotia with Nonny as she will more than likely feature in many an adventure from this moment onwards! Well, post-lock down anyway when we might finally get to venture to some rural places once more.
Speaking of Little Miss Nonny, I feel that this post needs to set the record straight about her breed once and for all. The most common misconception about Goldies is that they are an American or English dog breed (Americans tend to refer to the white blonde ones as ‘English Creams’). This is not factually accurate on either count as the Golden Retriever originates in … Scotland! Here’s a wee potted history of how the world’s favourite dog breed came to be.
History of the Golden Retriever
Let me take you on a journey up to the misty, Scottish Highlands and to the small village of Tomich just over the hill from Loch Ness. It is near here at Guisachan House in 1868 that the world’s first Golden Retriever was bred by Lord Tweedmouth aka Dudley Marjoribanks. Wildfowl hunting was a popular sport with the Scottish gentry, but the existing retriever breeds of the time weren’t particularly adept at returning downed game from both water and land. Therefore, the need for a specialist retriever arose.
Enter ‘Nous’, a yellow-coated retriever whom Lord Tweedmouth purchased from an otherwise black, flat-coated retriever litter who he mated with a Tweed Water Spaniel called ‘Belle’. The offspring of 3 pups (2 girls and a boy) became the basis of a breeding programme which included the Irish Red Setter, the sandy-coloured Bloodhound, the St John’s water dog of Newfoundland and two more wavy-coated, black retrievers. Tweedmouth’s goal was to breed a dog that was both gentle enough to retrieve game intact and trainable. He did well as Goldies are well-known for their soft mouths which have become highly You Tubeable due to their ability to hold an uncooked egg without breaking it. They’re also very sociable, kind and gentle in nature making them perfect companions and family pets.
Guisachan Gathering 2018
To show you how much not only I, but other people LOVE these dogs, check out this picture I took at the Guisachan Gathering in July 2018. Every year, a hoarde of Goldie loving owners and their trusty, four-legged companions descend upon the Guisachan Estate and what remains of the once grand, Guisachan House. They meet up to celebrate the birthplace of the breed and to generally have a party! The year we attended in 2018 was the 150th anniversary which was particularly special and included a ‘Grand Old Duke of York’ procession where my partner, Andy and I helped count all 361 of the dogs in attendance! BEST. DAY. EVER. (Apart from last Friday of course!)
You can visit the Guisachan Estate just past Tomich here.