The Biscayne Times

Jul 08th
Doodle Dogs, Part II PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
May 2018

Kids and goldendoodles are a good mix

LPix_PetTalk_5-18ong-time Miami Shores resident Liz Cowen got her first goldendoodle in 2009 for $700 from a West Palm Beach breeder, after doing Internet due diligence. Cream-colored Sophie grew to 44 pounds, which makes Cowen happy, since the largest of these golden retriever/poodle hybrids weigh twice that.

A year later she decided that Sophie needed a companion herself, and Cowen, who is retired, set out to find an even smaller goldendoodle. In an e-mail to the BT, Cowen writes that she was referred by friends to Diamond Dogs in Missouri, which specializes in mini doodles. “I picked her out of a line-up of puppies that I could see online and bonded with her from that picture. It was all about the eyes: Gracie hugs you with her eyes. She looks inside of me,” Cowen confesses.

Cowen certainly picked a special one. She and 37-pound Gracie have become a therapy dog team, volunteering at an Alzheimer’s/cancer center and leading the reading-to-dogs after-school program at the Miami Shores Brockway Memorial Library (see “Book Hounds,” February 2015). Curled up on a bean-bag chair, Gracie patiently listens each week as elementary schoolers read favorite books aloud.

Having had German shepherds all her life, Cowen was ready for a smaller dog with a large-dog mentality, one that didn’t shed and wasn’t aggressive. “I wanted an easy-to-train, smart, affectionate, and easygoing companion,” she says. “Sophie is a wonderful dog, but Gracie is a reincarnated person. Our souls are connected to each other.”

Not only is Gracie a therapy dog certified for visits to schools, libraries, nursing homes, and hospitals, but she has become a service dog for her owner, aiding Cowen, who has hearing loss. “She assists me in identifying sound direction,” says Cowen, “and uses her paws to alert me to people speaking.”

Allergies had been a problem for Gracie, but they are now under control with occasional injections. Cowen warns that goldendoodles are susceptible to hip dysplasia and eye issues. They need grooming and haircuts, and fur matting can become an issue since the breed loves the water. “My dogs are always up for a swim,” says Cowen. She often takes them on drives to Atlanta and on to North Carolina to visit friends. “They don’t mind the car ride,” she insists. “And once in the mountains, no leashes are required.”

She recommends goldendoodles to families with children, and to singles. Her future dog? “Definitely a goldendoodle,” she says.

“You must teach English,” I tell Miami Shores resident Greg Cabana upon meeting him and Chaucer, his now seven-month-old goldendoodle. Indeed, Cabana teaches middle-school English at the Cushman School in Miami, where his wife, Leanna Rodriguez, teaches social studies. I’ve been the puppy’s “nanny” since he was 12 weeks old.

The couple wavered between getting a goldendoodle or a rescue dog. They have two friends with goldendoodles and did online research before deciding on a doodle. “The breed’s hypoallergenic qualities sold me, as our ten-year old daughter has had rashes,” Rodriguez says, although many breeders acknowledge that the hypoallergenic dog is a myth. Luckily, their daughter isn’t allergic to Chaucer.

They located a breeder in Jupiter who’d had a litter in October 2017; that made Chaucer old enough to come home for Christmas, and they bought him for $2800. The Cabanas also have a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, and consider Chaucer’s best quality his gentleness with kids.

“He’s very sweet and smart, and doesn’t shed,” Rodriguez tells the BT. Keeping a house of five tidy is hard enough, so the lack of shedding is a big deal.

Chaucer is quickly approaching his breeder-anticipated adult weight of 30-35 pounds, and local veterinarian John Yao believes he’ll reach 40. Cabana may consider breeding Chaucer once and thinks he’d make a good therapy dog.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time he’s great,” says Cabana. “He’s really smart with the morning routine, got crate training right away, and is content in the crate at night and while we’re gone. No accidents. The kids love him and play fetch with him. I take him for walks with my youngest, and we’ll do more [with other dogs] after his last vaccinations.”

Sometimes Chaucer playfully grabs fingers and jumps up on people. His toys are strewn throughout the house and backyard to help prevent destructive chewing. “He chewed through the cable wire twice,” admits Cabana.

This young pup has already learned to sit; and from a distance of 15 feet, after getting the “home” command, he walks into his crate. Besides that, he’s already got perfect timing and smooth moves. One day in February in his yard, which is landscaped with quartz gravel, Chaucer dropped a rock at my feet. I reached down and picked up a reddish heart-shaped stone. It was, of course, Valentine’s Day.


Goodman is a dog trainer and principal of Good Dog Bad Dog: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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