Friday, November 4, 2011

Holli Pfau & Daisy and Chatter

Who is in the photo at right?

Greetings from Holli Pfau and Daisy and Chatter, at Glad Dog Ranch in Colorado. I’m a writer and expatriate from southern California fortunate to share mountain life with my husband and golden retrievers. They’re just two of the six dogs featured in my new memoir, Pure Gold: Adventures with Six Rescued Golden Retrievers. Each dog enriched and transformed my life, often in surprising and unexpected ways.

These girls are the most challenging, disruptive and – in Daisy’s case – most opinionated goldens that have graced my life. Energetic and egocentric, Daisy (now eight) whirled into our lives as if delivered by a helicopter dumping water on a blazing fire. Chatter, going on seven, arrived damaged and fragile, like a tender green shoot carelessly crunched underfoot. But they formed a pack – a true odd couple – and take life joyfully head on every day.

What’s brewing?

With these two high-energy dogs, there’s no need for caffeine in my life! As soon as their feet hit the floor, they’re off and running. I’d better be sure to put something on my feet, in case I have to scatter wild turkeys in the front, or keep the girls from chasing deer on the hill. Breakfast and beverage will have to wait.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Nothing today, but we all get wonderful species-appropriate treats after agility or rally obedience practice. The girls wolf down anything offered. I prefer rich cheeses made right across the valley, with fresh apples from our trees.

How were you and the dogs united?

A very intuitive woman at our local humane society asked the fateful question one day as I renewed licenses for our other two goldens: “Oh, golden retrievers. Would you like another one?” Six-month-old Daisy had been turned in an hour before, and this woman must have spotted me coming a mile away. Three days later, the little dynamo burst into our calm, placid household and nothing was ever the same again.

In stark contrast, we were looking for a golden two years later. After we searched, networked and began to despair, we found little Chatter with a breeder just three hours north of home. She had been returned by her first owner, who worked long hours and complained that the puppy was hysterical at night. Sensitive and wounded by neglect, Chatter needed a real family. And we needed her.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both arrived bearing their current monikers. In Daisy’s case, I guess I hoped that she would emerge from wild and unruly to become the image of a perky bunch of daisies. I figured that Chatter had suffered enough change in her little life already.

Daisy’s nickname is Day-Zul, spoken loudly, stretching out each syllable, and ending with rising inflection while I scan the property to see where she’s rooting for rodents or noshing on wild snacks. Chatter’s is Little Miss or Little One, since she’s petite and gentle.

Please tell us about your new book.

Inspired by volunteers who do endless and often difficult work to rescue and re-home dogs, and the amazingly resilient and grateful dogs themselves, I wrote Pure Gold to honor all the gold in my life, and to raise funds for golden retriever and other rescue groups, shelters and humane societies.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for walk?

Every walk is the favorite walk! Living so exquisitely in the moment, the dogs accelerate into hyperspeed at the mere mention of a walk. Daisy spins to the right like a whirling dervish; Chatter jumps for joy, usually meeting my gaze at eye level. Persistent training persuades them to sit – barely – while we slip leashes over their eager heads and smiling faces.

Humans in the family enjoy the river walk that winds through town, and we all love hikes in the San Juan Mountains.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Daisy’s drug of choice is chipmunks, and from spring through fall, she’s like an addict who can’t kick the habit. Speedy and athletic, she’s intoxicated by near catches throughout the season, which only fuel her addiction. Chatter may join in, but her approach appears halfhearted by comparison.

Squeaky-toy, tennis ball, stick?

Chatter would rather swim than breathe, and considers balls thrown into the river or lake her true nirvana. Daisy, meanwhile, is still vibrating with the possibility of seeing one more chipmunk.

What is each dog's best quality?

Daisy is the poster girl for enthusiasm – for everything in life. I’ve learned to “embrace the chaos” that she can bring to almost any run on the agility field – in her mind, she’s never had anything less than a satisfying and stellar experience. She reminds me to share her belief and go for the gusto, no matter the outcome. And she has the most beautiful agate-speckled eyes.

Chatter’s sweet, gentle temperament shines in her always kind and accepting encounters with all people and animals. She’s a rising star in the animal-assisted therapy program at our local hospital. Her goal in life – after swimming – is to log as many hours of snuggling as she can in one lifetime.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Without a doubt: more walks, hikes, swims and less time spent in my office. They would lure me outside from sun up to sun down, show me the world through their eyes, and bed us all down at night, thoroughly exhausted and exceedingly satisfied.

Visit the Pure Gold website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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