Special Birthday

On Tuesday July 31st this special girl turned 13 years old!


When certain breeds reach those double digits they are considered very senior dogs. And as the owner I consider myself very fortunate to see my dogs reach those ages.

So to celebrate this very Special Birthday I did a photo shoot with my niece and Riva.

We had a lot of fun doing this and Riva really enjoyed all the treats!

Then later that evening she had her special cake and more photos.

The life and times of Riva…

This girl is so loved by her family! Happy Birthday my Riva Diva!!!


Tina & the Brown Dogs

Senior Dogs

I find myself thinking more and more about my senior dog and her brother; Riva and Reveler will be 13 this July.

It is hard to wrap my head around that! How could it be almost 13 years since we saw these little burr heads come into the world??

Riva came home with me when she was 8 weeks old and I knew immediately she was going to be very special. At 8 weeks old she looked at me and gave me a huge Chessie grin as if to say, “you better hang onto your hat because I’m going to be a handful”!

Riva puppy2  Riva puppy (2)  Riva & Jimmie puppy1

My niece, Hailee, grew up with Riva. She is her dog for sure. Hailee doesn’t like to talk about Riva getting old, she’s a very emotional girl when it comes to the dogs. She was the first dog she showed, albeit only once, but they had a good time and did very well with each other. Hailee has always been my dog helper.

Hailee & Girls

Hailee & Riva  the retrieve    Hailee and Riva    Hailee and Riva first show

In my 25+ years having this breed and eight dogs I have only had two that were true counter surfers, but Riva holds the title of “Counter Surfer Elite”. This girl can manage to get to things you thought you had well-hidden and pushed back out of reach. Over the years she has eaten half pans of brownies, ate half my special apple pie that was for my Smiling Rivafamily reunion, cinnamon rolls, and breads just to name a few. One of the most memorable counter surf incidents was when I was visiting my friends for the weekend and Riva stole the butter.  My friend Michelle’s father was preparing dinner for all of us and the dogs were roaming around. He placed a stick of butter on the counter, turned around to stir something on the stove, turned back around and the butter was gone (wrapper and all), he had his hands on his hips and a look like “I could swear I just put a stick of butter there”. This was years ago and we all still laugh about it to this day. She never has any true guilt or shame about what she does, oh yea she gives you a sheepish grin with the ears back because she knows she looks cute and you will just laugh and say, “well I should have done a better job putting things away”. Even at almost 13 she still steals things off the counter.

Riva also has selective hearing. Now according to my nephew when he was about eight years old this is a real disease, lol. There was one time we were camping at the same friend’s house for a big Chessie event; another friend, Jan, was in her camper right next to our tent. Well somehow Riva got out of the tent in the late evening, so it was starting to get dark. Here I am out there with food trying to get her to come just close enough I can grab her collar. Not even once did she acknowledge me and look back, she just kept sniffing around making sure to keep just enough distance between us. You would think this food motivated dog would be easy to catch with food. Finally, after about 15 minutes I managed to wrangle her. The only comment Jan had to say, “only a mother could love Riva”. So,  from that day forward that comment has stuck.

She also thinks if the door opens she must exit! I can’t tell you how many times this girl has taken herself for a walkabout around the neighborhood with me and sometimes others following. One particular incident that stands out in my mind was just a couple years ago. I came out of my bedroom to the living room and I just knew immediately she was not in the house. So, I grab my shoes, a leash and treats and rush out the door only to see my brother rounding the corner with no shirt or shoes, Riva in his arms, yes, he was carrying this 75-pound dog back home.

Riva had one litter of pups, which is where Maia and Titan came from. She wasn’t a bad mother, but she wasn’t what I would call maternal. She would feed them just fine but Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppies (1)when it came to cleaning them she looked at me like “I am not licking their butts”, so that job was left for me for the most part. When they were old enough to be weaned I could tell she was glad to be relieved of that duty. She never even noticed when they started leaving for their new homes. I think she might have been a little disgusted when two of them stayed behind.

I tell you about all this, so you can have a sense of who she is; a dog with her own agenda! Some of you might say, “well you should have trained her better”, believe me I did my best with her. But honestly after several years I just resigned myself to this is who she is. You all might think this is strange, but I find these qualities endearing because at the end of the day I knew she loved me when she would snuggle up close to me and want me to put my arm around her while she slept. It’s Riva’s world, I just live in it!

When I look at her now graying face and watch her moving a little slower and stiffer, I remember all the antics she has done and how I would be so frustrated with her at times and think, what I wouldn’t give to have that young dog back and do it all again. It’s these memories that really fill my heart with joy even though I know her days, months and maybe even another year or two or waning. Dogs live in the moment and I would like to be like that with her, not thinking about the future but just enjoying the here and now with her. Living each day in the moment with my special Riva Diva!

Riva Fall Photo Shoot 2016 (3)

Riva Fall Photo Shoot 2016 8-3

Tina & the Brown Dogs

Summer Fun at Lake Michigan

Just before my niece had to go back to Alabama we planned a road trip to the west side of the state to see Lake Michigan. There are many places you can go along the west coast to see the lake but we chose a park called Norman F. Kruse. We chose this park for a couple of reasons, dog friendly beach and our friend Chuck from Collies of the Meadow recommended it.

So we packed a great picnic lunch that consisted of hot dogs and hamburgers to cook on the grill, salads, chips and assorted other goodies, packed up all three dogs, my niece, nephew, his friend and my brother in two vehicles and hit the road.

The weather looked like we might get some rain but the skies cleared and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day. The drive wasn’t to bad, about an hour and a half and we were there! The park was beautiful, very clean with a nice picnic area and actual restrooms. I don’t know about you but I much rather have a real bathroom opposed to the outhouse style Winking smile 

It was a bit of a hike down to the beach but well worth it. I was able to let the dogs off leash, well not Riva as she likes to take herself on little walk abouts so I had her on a 20 foot long line so she could move about freely but be reeled in if needed, but Maia and Titan ran free playing and splashing. The water was quite rough but it didn’t hold Titan back. Maia wanted to go in but each time she started to venture in farther a big wave would come up and she had second thoughts.

Everyone got in the water and did some swimming except me, one foot in that cold water and I was not going to emerge my whole body in it, so I took pictures and threw the bumper for Titan.

Some photos of our day…

Lake Michigan 2016 (9)Lake Michigan 2016 (11)Lake Michigan 2016 (12)Lake Michigan 2016 (17)Lake Michigan 2016 (21)Lake Michigan 2016 (25)Lake Michigan 2016 (26)Lake Michigan 2016 (36)Lake Michigan 2016 (38)Lake Michigan 2016 (47)Lake Michigan 2016 (59)Riva looking disgusted because I won’t let her off leash!Lake Michigan 2016 (60)Lake Michigan 2016 (69)Notice Maia sticking out her tongue, I guess she doesn’t like getting her face squished.  Lake Michigan 2016 (72)I love this one, that is my nephew sitting down with Maia and his friend standing.Lake Michigan 2016 (75)My beautiful niece, dog handler and overall kennel help.Lake Michigan 2016 (93)My brother.Lake Michigan 2016 (99)This was a lighthouse we could see from the beach.Lake Michigan 2016 (101)Taking a rest after fun in the lake and a nice lunch…well they were all laying down until I moved to take the photo.

We enjoyed a leisurely day and made some great memories. The dogs had a blast and slept all the way home. We will definitely go back to this park again!

Tina and the Brown Dogs

My Best Girl

Taking a trip down memory lane today!! I thought I would tell you my story about my first Chessie, Ro-lyns Jessas Shadowdancer “Shadowdancer”.

I met my first Chesapeake around 25 years ago, her name was Jessa. She belonged to my soon to be very good friend Robin; we both worked in a group home for the developmentally disabled. I started working the midnight shift and my first night I was met by two big brown dogs. Their names were Jessa and Feather. This wasn’t a problem for me as I have loved dogs my whole life, I get that love of dogs from my dad. I had never seen dogs that looked like these two, Robin introduced us and told me a bit about the breed.

I fell in love with them immediately, especially Jessa. She just had a way about her, laid back but on alert when she needed to be. They were both so very gentle with the residents. They made for a great clean up crew every morning after breakfast too. They waited patiently while the residents were eating but the minute they left the table and Robin gave them the “clean up crew” yell they came running.

Robin had decided she was going to breed Jessa one last time and knew how much I loved her and wanted a Chessie of my own. So on February 17, 1993 my best girl was born. I helped Robin with the whelping so I was the very first person to hold my special girl, what a thrill that was. I watched her and the siblings grow and I had many puppy play days.Shadowdancer4.jpeg   Sire and Dam ~ NBISS CH**/CanCH*Parklake’s Lordship Sir Oliver X CH Ro-Lyn’s Blustry Jala Jessa

Then the long awaited day was finally here, shortly after my birthday my beautiful deadgrass girl was presented to me for a birthday present. I could hardly contain myself!!JIMMIE & SHADOWDANCER.jpeg

That day started a journey that I will never forget.

So first things first I had to come up with a name, boy that’s harder than you might think. Every name I came up with just didn’t seem to suit her. I was looking for something kind of Native American. So one day we were outside and I was just watching her play and I noticed that she had spotted her shadow. Such a sight, she started dancing around her shadow and pouncing on it. So from that day forward she was called Shadowdancer.

She loved loved loved to swim!! Shadowdancer puppy.jpegI had never had a dog that swam so the first time and many times after I would stand on the shore holding my breath, I just knew she was going to drown. I learned after about six months or so she not only knew what she was doing but it was in her genes and she was a pro. She had a very deaf ear when being called to come out of the water so we could leave. I could have stood on the bank with a side of beef and she would not come out until she was good and ready. Shadowdancer5 (2).jpeg

We went on many trips together. Traveling out west when she was just four months old with Robin and two other Chessies, Jessa and Greta. We went through many states including Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Colorado and we saw many sights together. We hiked around one of the areas where Dances With Wolves was filmed, not sure it really thrilled her but Robin and I were pretty excited! She swam in the Snake River in Wyoming with her mom and Greta. We hiked on many trails and mountain areas. We went to Mackinaw Island and biked around the whole island. Then we continued that journey to the most northern tip of the UP, Copper Harbor.Shadowdancer3 (2).jpegShadowdancer2 (2).jpegShadowdancer6.jpegShadowdancer7 (2).jpeg

When she was six months old she started showing in conformation and did pretty well. She really seemed to like strutting her stuff around the ring. I was very new at the whole show thing so Robin showed her in the early days and then I took over once she was an adult. She was a great dog for me to learn how to show with.Shadowdancer2 (2).jpegShadowdancer (2).jpeg                                                                           1996 being shown by Robin

As she got a bit older I started seeing some of the Chesapeake attitude come out, she could be stubborn and wanted to do things her way. We always managed to work it though. She had one little quirk that I used to kind of get a kick out of. If she really liked you she would give you little love pinches. She would walk up behind you and give you a little pinch right on your butt. She was careful not to hurt you, how she only got that small bit of skin with her front teeth amazed me. I always told people they should feel honored because she only did that to people she liked.

Our bond was like no other dog I had ever owned.  I adored her and she me! When she looked at me it was if she was looking deep down to my soul. Her eyes seemed to say it all. She was my constant companion and went everywhere with me. It didn’t matter what we were doing just as long as she was with me. She loved my nieces and nephews.Shadowdancer & kids

Then in 2004 she jumped out of my van one day and started limping. I thought she probably just jammed her leg and landed wrong but after a few days it wasn’t any better. I scheduled her to see her vet, I was still thinking it was probably nothing but wanted to get it checked out just in case. So off we went to the vet, she did an x-ray but when the Dr. came back into the room to talk to me I could tell by her face it was bad news. She showed me the x-ray that revealed bone cancer (osteosarcoma), I never expected the big C to come out of her mouth. She then informed me that bone cancer is very aggressive and most dogs only have about fourteen weeks once diagnosed.  If she were a younger dog we could have tried amputation but at eleven years old I did not feel that was something I wanted to put her through. So we went home with medication to make her comfortable. I started to prepare myself for the day I would have to make the dreaded decision of euthanasia. I prayed everyday that she would go in her sleep so I would not have to make that decision. But in the end I held her beautiful head in my lap stroking her face; she laid there calmly as if saying “this is right and I am ready”. On a very warm sunny afternoon in August I said good bye to my very best girl as the Dr. gave her the injection that would stop her pain. I will forever miss her. Even now after all these years I tear up and get a huge lump in my throat  just talking about her. Me & Shadowdancer

I had eleven and a half wonderful years with her, she was a fabulous companion and my best friend. I could ask for no more!

My Little Pretties

I thought today I would share some of my favorite little pretties.

Cheyenne ~ Chesapeake Bay Retriever (4)1

This is one of my favorite photos of Cheyenne, there is just something so regal about her standing there. She was ten years old here.

Riva, Cheyenne,  Sierra & Reveler

This is Riva standing on the dock frame and Cheyenne, Searra and Reveler swimming in.


My friend Michelle and I set up our first photo shoot with the dogs, I did three dogs and she did several. We learned a few things to make it better next time.



This is Bitsy, she is Maia and Titans sister.

DSC_0993 (2)


Our show photo from 2010, the DKC show when the girls and I won Best Brace In Breed.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Cheyenne and Riva.

Same show after showing we were just chillin at our bench. Yes both dogs managed to get in my lap.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Riva and handler Hailee

This is my niece Hailee and her dog Riva as she informs me all the time. Hailee’s very first time showing a dog. Her and Riva did very well.

Schawn and Hailee 2013

Two of my most favorite people, my niece and nephew Hailee and Schawn.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Riva

I love how Riva is looking out over the water.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Maia January 16, 2015

This photo was taken by my friend Michelle. I love Maia’s intense look.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Titan January 16, 2015


befunky sharpen

My first nephew and my first Chesapeake 1993.

Shamrock (5)

Shamrock, the horse I really learned to ride. She’s gone now but I will never forget her. She was a beautiful Appaloosa with a very sweet heart.

Cheyenne ~ Chesapeake Bay Retriever (25)

And the last one for today…Cheyenne charging!