Tuesday, December 7, 2010


As you all know we are the proud owners of CrimSON Tide Bailey, aka "Sonny" (ok, so Bama was in the championship that year), our lovable Golden Retriever/Yellow Lab mix. What you may not know is the story of how Sonny came to be a part of our family! It all started 1 year ago, this past weekend. My Uncle John was headed to watch Bama play in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta and my Aunt Susan and my 2 cousins Sara and John were headed to Gatlinburg for a school trip that same weekend. They recruited Forrest and I to look after Chip, their Golden Retriever, since we live so close to them. Chip is a little on the "high maintenance" side so we were there several times a day to let him out and play with him. Forrest really took to Chip because he loved to run around the yard and chase toys and balls that Forrest would throw. I didn't think anything of it, since Chip has been in my life for about 10 years now (I baby sat John and Sara when he was a puppy and he had accidents all over the place--my first memory of Chip!). Well, apparently, Forrest was smitten. He started doing some "secret" research on Golden Retrievers and found out that they are good dogs to get if you have cats, because their instinct is not to chase them. He also discovered that they are good at "holding it" and can stay inside for long periods of time without having to go out (we experienced that already with Chip).  Of course, they are a good breed for playing and fetching and running, all things Forrest wanted to do with a dog. One night we were going to bed and he told me that he wanted to get me a great Christmas present since it was our first Christmas. I was SUPER excited!! He said he needed to tell me what it was early so we could go get it and I of course said "tell me now!". He opened up his laptop and showed me the website to TVGRR--Tennessee Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. This was NOT the amazing Christmas gift I was hoping for! A dog?? Really? I didn't want a dog, especially a big dog. I was worried about Brownie and Stella, and most importantly, where we were going to put this huge animal! We didn't have a fenced in yard and I didn't want it in my house all day long! I also did not want to have to go through all of the training and puppy proofing and accidents that come with a puppy. We are both gone all day and wouldn't have time to take the puppy out (it was winter, of course, and puppies can't stay out in the freezing cold). Forrest had an answer for all of my concerns, due to his extensive research. The perk of getting a dog from the rescue organization (other than the fact that you are helping a dog in need) is that the animals are older and most are crate trained and house broken (my aunt said this is like adopting a 5 year old child-not too much of the messiness!). I knew that Forrest REALLY wanted one so I agreed to think about it and investigate. My stipulations were that I wanted a girl dog (I wanted to put bows on its ears), a smaller dog, one that was already house broken, and preferably a "light" golden color. Well, less than a week later, we were in the car on the way to Huntsville to meet Bethany, one of the TVGRR foster moms. She had about 9 Goldens in her house at that time (crazy, I know) and we could choose any of them. Forrest let me pick since it was "my" present. I picked "Kiki", a scared little girl who came crawling out of her crate and rested her head on my lap. She met all of my criteria, except she was a pretty redish color. Bethany said she was getting over heartworms and was a little shy but that she should perk up. Well, we met her a week later to pick up "Kiki", who I renamed "Miss Honey".
Miss Honey when we brought her home

I had purchased all sorts of cute girly dog things and we were excited to welcome her into our home. We noticed immediately that she was terrified. She hid her head and wouldn't acknowledge us on the ride home. When we got her to the house, she scurried into the crate we purchased and stayed there--for 2 days. The cats had no reason to be afraid of her, because she just laid there. We had to drag her out to take her to the bathroom and she had frequent accidents when Forrest tried to take her out. We could tell she was miserable. We carried on like this for 3 weeks. We were in contact daily with Bethany who kept offering us ideas of what we could do to get her to perk up, but nothing worked. Right about New Years, Bethany told us we should probably throw in the towel, because it seemed that Miss Honey had some deep emotional problems that we were not equipped to deal with. I was devastated. I cried and cried and felt like a failure--I mean, what adoptive parent gives their baby back? We knew that we couldn't give Miss Honey what she needed so we agreed. We set up a time with Bethany to pick Miss Honey up on January 2. She called on New Year's Day to tell us that she would have a puppy with her when she came to get Miss Honey that she would be transporting to Knoxville to be fostered and that we were welcome to foster him or even keep him if we liked him. I immediately said "no puppies", for reasons stated above. However, the more I thought of that little guy going to Knoxville and being named something like "Kiffin" or "Peyton" or "Smokey", the more I felt bad for him, so I got Bethany to send me some pics. Well, what a little stunner "Harley" was!!
How could you say no to that face??

Isn't he perfect??

Can't you see why I fell in love??

I of course was a sucker for the adorable pup, who turned out to be 5 months old, so not as "puppy-ish" as I thought, and told her we would try him out. When they brought him to the house he was a bundle of love (just like he is now). He sat in Forrest's lap and wrestled with him and LOVED to chase the ball! Forrest was in love and I couldn't tell him no after going through such a hard time with Miss Honey, so we decided to keep him for a week, on trial. The interesting part was that Miss Honey perked up when Sonny came in the door, so we thought that maybe she just needed a dog friend to be comfortable. That was a pipe dream, as she never got better, even though we kept both dogs for a week just to be sure. I was so sad to give Miss Honey back, but I knew that the TVGRR people would know how to better care for her. Sonny, on the other hand, was exactly the fun, energetic dog that Forrest has wanted, and even though is was a boy and is now HUGE, 2 things I didn't ask for, I couldn't help but fall in love with him too! We renamed him "Sonny" and we couldn't be happier!
I of course wanted to know his "story". Bethany told me that he was from Kansas and that someone from Alabama who was visiting relatives in Kansas got him from a shelter and brought him back to Alabama. They had had him for 2 days and he had an accident, so they dropped him off in the "doggie drop box" at night at a shelter in Auburn. Poor baby! When we got him, he maybe had 2 accidents, but that was our fault because we didn't let him out in time. He was perfectly crate trained and had great house manners. He was a little too playful with Brownie and Stella at first, but they grew to love him (now they scratch themselves on his legs!).We got the "fact sheet" on him from the shelter and it said he was a "goof ball" with a "long tail, short smooth coat, and floppy ears". It also stated that he liked to "play with toys" and that he likes "to play with you". Perfect descriptions of our outgoing boy! As for Miss Honey, I check in on her with Bethany fairly regularly. Bethany has officially adopted her and she splits her time between Bethany's and another foster mom. She is much more comfortable being around lots of dogs. She is still quite and shy and likes to hide and may never fully recover from whatever trauma she went through, but she is in the best place for her. Despite the sadness we went through over Miss Honey, it all worked out in the end!
Sonny's first bath

LOVING the snow!

On his mat from Mary Margaret

Look how big he is now!!


  1. Catherine - how random I found this!!! I just happened to be searching online for TVGRR stuff and stumbled across this and saw you just posted it today! How wild. We laughed so hard we cried reading this! I'm so glad it worked out - sweet Sonny is so lucky with you guys!!! Miss Honey is doing really well. Merry Christmas to all of you!!! - Bethany

  2. What a totally random surprise! We LOVE Sonny and are so appreciative of all the love and support we have gotten from you and TVGRR!! Merry Christmas to you!


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