The insatiable appetite of a normally model golden retriever

Casey is the well-behaved dog that normally stays out of the limelight.

A golden retriever wearing a red and white bandana sits in front a red and white farm building
Casey sits quietly for his Christmas picture.
Contributed / Ellen Gregoire
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The two dogs at our house that are probably best known to readers of my column are my daughter, Ellen’s golden retriever, Rosebud, and my golden retriever, Nova.

I write about Rosebud, who starred in the movie “Santa Buddies,” because the story about how Ellen became her owner through Make-A-Wish North Dakota strikes a chord with readers, and updating the adventures of the pair that have been together for 14 years is heartwarming.

If Rosebud is famous, Nova is infamous. My alternately naughty and sweet and always energetic golden retriever’s mischievousness results in stories that are amusing to recount later, if not at the time they happened.

Our third golden retriever joined our family in September 2016. A couple of months before that, our senior dog, Minnie, died, and Rosebud appeared to be lonely for her surrogate mother/best friend. Ellen decided she needed to get Rosebud another canine buddy, so she contacted the owner of Emerald Acres Golden Retriever kennel in southern California where Rosebud and her Santa Buddies brothers were born to find out if any puppies were available for sale.

Emerald Acres’ owner, Pat, told Ellen that she had a male puppy and that she could arrange to fly him to Fargo, North Dakota. The 16-week old, light-colored golden — which Ellen named Casey — arrived on an American Airlines flight at Hector Airport a few days before Labor Day in 2016.


Golden retriever puppy
Casey, the golden retriever, was a quiet puppy.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

I blame Casey for lulling me into complacency and believing that caring for puppies was easy. He was everything Nova is not — calm, quiet and obedient. If he started to chew something he shouldn’t and we spoke to him sternly, he immediately stopped and looked contrite. When he wasn’t sleeping, he was content to cuddle up in our laps.

Read more Hazen Brook Reflections
The first year with my golden retriever Nova — my husband, Brian, Ellen, and I picked her up from the breeder on Sept. 15, 2020 — has been alternately exhausting, exciting, frustrating and full of felicitous moments.

That’s not to say he didn’t like to run around. He just waited until he was outdoors to do it. It quickly became apparent that while he was a retriever in name, it was beneath him to fetch a thrown object and bring it back to us. He preferred to trot regally around the yard with his fluffy tale flagging in the air.

A girl wearing a gray sweatshirt sits with a blonde golden retriever.
Casey likes to cuddle with his owner Ellen Gregoire.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

As an adult, Casey remains well-behaved and usually, a model dog. His big weakness is that he loves food, and he will go to great lengths to get it — once we turn our backs. Lest it sounds like we are slow learners and should know by now not to leave anything within Casey’s reach, we usually don’t. However, sometimes he pretends to be sleeping and not paying attention, then springs into action when we aren’t looking.

That leftover piece of steak sitting in the middle of the kitchen table after mine and Brian’s 30th anniversary dinner that I was going to put in the fridge? Gone when I went to get a piece of foil to wrap it in.

Casey enjoys parading around the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota, dog park, then posing for pictures.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

That freshly baked loaf of bread that Brian put on the back of the counter? Snarfed before it was cool enough to slice.

Those cucumbers in the garden that were just getting big enough to pick? Gobbled up before peak maturity.

Casey also likes to grab objects and hold them in his mouth. He has delicately held spoons that are in the dish drainer, leashes left on the kitchen island and cleaning cloths between his teeth during our absences from the kitchen. He gives them up, albeit reluctantly, when we chastise him for his transgressions, always giving us a mournful “I’m really sorry” look.

A blonde golden retriever holds a white plastic spoon in his mouth.
Casey likes to hold objects in his mouth, but acts sorry when he is caught.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

His latest shenanigans are to pull all of the kitchen towels out of the bottom drawer next to the sink and strew them around the kitchen while we are gone. Nova, his bad example/willing accomplice, then shreds the towels, and we come home to a cloth explosion.


Both dogs now are kenneled side by side when we leave the house. We don’t want Nova teaching Casey any other new tricks, preferring that he stay our — almost — model dog.

I’m pretty easy going when it comes to tolerating Nova’s foibles, but doubling them would push the stress to a whole ‘nother level. Besides, I do value our reputations as dog owners and as it is, we have a two-thirds majority of behaved vs. insubordinate.

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or

Opinion by Ann Bailey
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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