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Meet Merle, Our Golden Retriever Puppy. Essentials Needed to Get Started With a Puppy.

***this blog post does contain affiliate links

On April 24th, 2023 we welcomed home our new fur baby! I always grew up with small dogs so I wanted a big, loving, family dog. I thought the golden retriever would be the perfect breed for family and also farm life!

Even though I think all golden retrievers are adorable, I was especially in love with the dark red goldens. So, we got Merle kind of unexpectedly and quickly. I was on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website and I happened to stumble across a dark golden breeder. I went to their facebook page and they had puppies ready to go home that day! It was love at first sight with me and Merle. The breeder puts different color collars on each puppy and that is their name, so to speak. Merle was, "Orange Boy." As I was looking at all the puppies, I had an immediate draw to orange boy. So I messaged them, and guess who still needed a home? Orange Boy!...and Pink Girl, but I think my husband would have killed me if I came home with two dogs. I barely got authorization for one dog. Wyatt was busy on the farm so my mother-in-law and me loaded up and headed out to pick up our new fur baby.

We were headed to Clay City, Indiana, which is just about an hour and a half north of where we live in Southern Indiana. It wasn't too bad of a drive and the anticipation of a cute new puppy sure helped the time pass. Faith Retreivers operate a faith based farm for raising family dogs. They were great communicators and the pickup process was easy! They even sent Merle home with a new toy, a blanket with his moms scent, food and all the AKC paperwork. They even offered me Pink Girl for a discounted rate so that she would not be the only puppy left at the farm since Merle was the 2nd last puppy to go home. They were very kind and considerable. I would recommend them to anyone looking to add a golden retriever to their family. They were also very affordable compared to other breeders I had talked with.

How did we come up with the name, Merle? Well, that is a long story. My cousin has a dog named, "Hank." Her and her husband lived in Nashville after they first got married and what better way to commemorate music city than to name your dog after one of the biggest country music artists of all time. My husband also had a great uncle that named all of his dogs after country music singers. I loved this idea and I wanted to follow suite! My husband and I were driving around with the windows down and listening to country music, like we do frequently, and the song called, "Mama Tried," came onto the radio. Merle! I had our dog name.

Merle has been such a blessing in our lives. He has taught me a lot about patience, even though he was such a handful at first! I had forgotten how much work a puppy was! He is such a great precursor to motherhood.

I worked nightshift as a nurse, so I would get home at 8 in the morning and he was awake and ready for the day. We usually played for about 2 hours and then he would go down for a nap in the garage while I also went to sleep for most of the day. I would wake up at 3 pm and we would play again. I knew if we didn't play, he would have lots of energy to tear up everything in the garage. I'm not going to lie, it was exhausting. But I wanted to take every opportunity that we had together to start teaching him how to be a well-mannered dog. Below are some products that made puppy-hood easier.

These Bil Jac Little Jacs were my favorite puppy training treats. He would do anything to get these tasty chicken liver treats! These helped make training easier and quicker! He caught on really quick when he knew he would be getting one of these! The treats are moist and soft little nuggets that are easy to chew for little puppies. They are also tiny, so if you did a considerable amount of training with your pup, they won't get a belly ache from consuming too many treats.

As soon as we got Merle home, I wanted to teach him that his crate was his safe space. I wanted him to have a positive association with the crate. Some dogs with start to have a negative association with the crate if they are constantly caged in there all day or if they are put in their crate as a form of punishment. Each time he would go into his crate, he got a Bil Jac Treat to reinforce the positive behavior. My trainer also said that dogs need to have a crate to imitate their ancestral tendencies. Wild dogs would find shelter in a cave or hole where they could be safe, but also look out to watch for predators/prey. This is just another element that will help your dog feel more comfortable in their new home.

This was Merle's favorite dog bed as a puppy. Since we got Merle so quickly, I had to somewhat scramble for supplies. My mother in law had two of these beds for her daschund, so she gifted one to her new grandson, Merle. He loved this bed so much, he would drag if from the garage to the backyard so he could sit on it while he was outside. I'd come home, and his bed would be in the driveway. It kept things interesting, where would Merle drag his bed out to tomorrow?! I especially love this bed because the whole bed is a durable velvety soft cloth material. I bought a slightly bigger bed for Merle and on day one he had it shredded because the bottom had a cheap thin layer of fabric that was easily ripped. Not a good idea for sharp puppy teeth! So we are sticking with this tried and true bed until we have to size up!

I believe the worst element to the puppy phase is the biting and chewing... on literally everything. One night at work, I was venting about all the bite marks on my hands and about all of the things Merle has destroyed, when a coworker gave me a great recommendation! Yak cheese bones! I was like, what? That sounds disgusting, like yacking something up (vomiting). Even though I'm brunnette, I do have my blonde days, and I realized it was a Yak, like the animal. Milk from a Yak. That took me months to realize. When Merle would start the puppy biting, I would put one of these bones in his mouth to redirect him. These bones would also keep him busy instead of chewing on everything in the garage. I purchased other busy bones from Rural King, but he would get through them so quick, that it did not keep him busy long enough. And of course if you give your pup multiple bones per day, then they may get sick and throw up. These bones last for days! And once they get down to about one inch, you just pop them into the microwave for 45 seconds and they become a soft cheese puff so your puppy cannot choke on small hard piece. These are hands down Merle's Favorite bones. They saved me, they got me through the puppy biting phase! Praise the Lord! I will say they are a bit pricey, but totally worth it since they last forever!

Here is another brand of my favorite bones! These are specifically targeted to help defend against plaque and tartar build up. As Merle has grown up and lost his puppy teeth, I want to make sure to keep his new adult teeth healthy and clean. He thinks it is a special day if he gets to have one of these bones! He simply loves them, or maybe he loves anything he can chew up! These bones are longer lasting than other teeth cleaning bones that I have tried. They also come from a reputable dog food brand, Wellness. They use all natural ingredients with no gluten, preservative, or dyes.

Since Rural King is a dog friendly store, I frequently take Merle there to pick out new toys. He is one spoiled little puppy. This toy has withstood the test of time and he still plays with this toy on the daily. This toy squeaks and is incredibly durable. He enjoys playing tug of war with mom, holding it by the strings and swinging it back in forth in his mouth to hit himself, and to sit and squeak the ball inside. Definitely keeps this pup busy!

Another item I would recommend is a pet pen. This pen can easily be set up anywhere to keep your puppy contained from areas that they should not be. It is easily adjustable and can be taken apart to fit your specific area. The first night home with Merle, I set the pen up in a circle and put his cage inside so that I didn't have to shut the door on his cage at night. That way he could come out to potty on the puppy pads. I also didn't want to enforce negativity with the crate and being locked up on the first night. Merle is an outside dog so when he does get the opportunity to visit us in the house, we use two panels of this pet pen to contain him only in the kitchen. Would highly recommend and can be used for a baby down the road! Multipurpose!

Here is the brand of dog food we are feeding our golden retriever puppy. It is Blue Buffalo High Protein Large Puppy Dry Food with LifeSource Bits. It is NOT grain free, I don't necessarily believe in that because are furry friends need antioxidants too. And some studies have shown that grain free dog foods cause early onset heart failure because they are lacking "taurine." Most food brands have been adding taurine to grain free foods nowadays since they have discovered this, but nonetheless I want our furry friend to be healthy. Lots of GREAT ingredients in this food. First ingredient is deboned chicken, so you it contains a high percentage of just meat, not fillers. The grains it contains are oats, barely, and brown rice, which have been historically easier on puppy stomach vs corn. I also love how it contains fruits, vegetables, probiotics, and omega 3's.

I will eventually be transitioning Merle to the adult version of this large blend dog food. This is the premier blend, which contains moist tender meaty cuts along with the dry dog food. Merle has already trialed a sample of those moist meaty pieces and he loves them! I also appreciate how this brand adds in joint supplements for large dogs. Since larger dogs are heavier and do a lot more "working" and rougher"playing" it often takes a bigger toll on their joints. Glucosamine and Chondroitin support their joint health. It just makes me feel good that Merle is getting a supplement to help his joints with every meal rather than having to continually buy a bottle of extra supplements to give him.

Another essential related to feeding time is this puzzle bowl. Merle has a ravenous appetite. One day he scarfed down his food, threw up, and ate it again within minutes. Thats when we knew we needed this bowl to slow our little guy down. He enjoys licking his food out of all the silly nooks and crannies. He definitely has not thrown up since then now that he is eating slower.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post about getting our first puppy. We are incredibly blessed to have added Merle to our family. I can't wait to take you on all of our adventures together to come. He is growing up so fast and we are trying to soak up every minute! Hopefully some of these items will make puppy-hood easier on you. If you are inclined to graciously support our page by purchasing items from the links above, we can keep adding content to this blog which ensures you get more cute puppy photos to admire! Thanks again, stay safe, and stay healthy!



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Allison Goodman
Allison Goodman
Aug 20, 2023

Merle is one fun little pup-nephew!


breanna bounds
breanna bounds
Aug 20, 2023

Loved this post! Merle was so nice to share his Yak cheese bones with our pups! Will definitely be purchasing!


What a great write up! Excited to see Merle grow up!

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