We are breeders of English Golden Retriever puppies who have a goal of improving this beautiful breed in the United States. We are dog lovers who have been blessed to have the opportunity to share our lives with seven English Golden Retrievers and an occasional litter of puppies. All of our Golden Retrievers are what are commonly referred to in the United States as English Golden Retrievers or English Cream Golden Retrievers, though in Europe they are simply referred to as Golden Retrievers. I have heard many people refer to the imported Goldens as White Golden Retrievers. Though they are often a very light cream, they are never truly white, and can range in color from the palest cream to a rich gold.
Pictured here is our family in 2010 in front of our pond and home. We have now retired all of the Goldens pictured and have gone through the painful job of placing them in loving homes. We are very selective about the dogs we breed and it has been a hard journey to get to where we are today. We strive to improve our program with each new puppy or dog that we raise. With time, we have been able to improve our program. Go to our history page to learn more.
Where Our Goldens Live
Our family lives on a private road in a community filled with gated areas, beautiful ponds and lakes, pastures, and woods. All of our neighbors have 5-50 acres of land. There are miles of trails, some going beside lakes...a dog's paradise. We are in Chelsea, AL, about 20 miles from Birmingham. Although we do not ship our puppies, we have had people fly down from the northeast and from as far as California. It is very important to us that we meet the people who get our puppies and that they meet us and the parents of their puppy and also see where and how we raise our puppies.
Our English Golden Retrievers live and sleep in our home. We have 3 doggy doors going out of our home into three different fenced areas and our front door gives access to a fourth. We've fenced over 5 or 6 of our 14 acres for our dogs. Someone is home with them nearly all the time. We are fortunate enough to have a home large enough for the dogs to have plenty of room. Our house has an open floor plan that enables us to see all of our dogs from one place, while at the same time still being able to separate them individually or in groups when necessary. We have several baby gates that we open and close as needed. We often have our dogs divided for various reasons: a girl in season needing to be separate from our boy, a young puppy that we are house training, a training session with one of the dogs, or just to give each of the dogs individual attention. We don't have kenneled areas to divide our dogs, but have found our home situation to be more than sufficient for the number of dogs we have.
Our home had a great set-up for a large doggy family. We have 10 baby gates in various places on the main level of our home, plus doors to various rooms that can be closed. There are 3 main areas in our downstairs area. The first is the 2-story great room along with our front foyer and a hall that leads to our master suite and an office with a bathroom. The second area is our kitchen, keeping room, laundry, powder room, and side foyer. The third is our new "dog room", a huge divided room that is accessed by 4 sets of french doors from various rooms in our home that we leave opened but gated with baby gates.
The first area is our kitchen with a keeping room where our puppies live from 0-4 and 6-8 weeks of age and where an older puppy stays for house training. There is also a laundry room on this side that is large enough for a couch and a crate. This side of the house also has a side foyer with a doggy door going out to one of our fenced areas. This foyer is sectioned off with a long baby gate when we are house-training.
The second area is a large great room, master suite, and an office. The front foyer is also gated off separately as is the hallway giving us additional separations when needed. Puppies live in the great room from 4-6 weeks of age.
The third area is our "dog room". Our home was originally built around a large screened porch (about 35 ft X 12 ft) that we have now finished into a very large room. There are 4 sets of french doors that come off of various rooms in our home onto this big room. We've installed gates across 3 of these french door openings to open it to the rest of the house by leaving the doors open. We've divided the room into 3 sections. The middle section has a couch and coffee table as well as an armoire with a TV. The two end sections of this room have crates and several Kuranda dog beds as well as doggy doors that give free access to two separate large fenced areas (both over 2 acres). The dogs are rotated between the dog room and rest of the house. This gives us opportunity to spend quality time with one or two dogs at a time. (If more than 2 dogs are in one area, there is too much competion for the less assertive dogs to get adequate attention).
Our dogs are never in kennels though the younger ones go in crates at night to sleep as well as twice a day to eat. Most of the time there are two or three dogs in the kitchen, a couple in the great room, and a couple in each end of the dog room. If we have a girl in season, you'll usually find her in my husband's office with him. For information on where our puppies live and how they are raised see our How We Raise our Puppies page.
How Our Dogs are Cared For
Each dog is brushed at least once a week, rinsed off every time they get dirty or go swimming, and given a full bath and blown dry (not with heat but with a power dryer) about once a month or every two months depending on the time of the year. We use natural methods to prevent fleas and tics, and feed our dogs using a rotation method between various high quality dry foods. See our dog food page for what we rotate between. We used to feed raw. Then went to cooked food mixed with dry and now feed exclusively dry. One day we hope to go back to raw but for now, we've found dry to be adequate and much simpler. We are advocates of minimal vaccines and are constantly educating ourselves on canine health care.
When we first started this venture, we were a home-schooling family with 3 children from 10-14 years of age. We've always been home quite a bit more than most families and had a very busy home with a lot of company and activities at our home. This has always worked well for us and the dogs.
In the beginning, my 2 daughters (then 12 and 14 years) and I were a three woman team taking care of the dogs and puppies together, going to shows, obedience classes, and researching lines and European breeders. My son and husband also helped tremendously. My son's main job was to take the night shift, either watching to make sure the moms don't roll on very young puppies or taking older puppies outside for a midnight potty. He also spent a lot of time with the adult dogs and was a real trouper with cleaning up after dogs and puppies. My husband supplied the money and took over many household duties when we had litters including doing all the family cooking and cleaning during the last two weeks that puppies were here. It was truly a fun family hobby for many years.
Then, in fall 2011, my oldest daughter started college. Four years later in fall 2015, my youngest daughter as well as my son also started college. Only the middle child (my youngest daughter) was left living at home and she had a very busy schedule preparing for nursing school. My husband and I had been planning for the big change. After home schooling for the past 17 years, I was ready for a new challenge, as was my husband, Darrell.
Now that all of our children are in college, we are excited about the extra time that we can personally invest in the dogs. Home schooling and all the activities that go along with it will no longer be one of our responsibilities. We will certainly miss our kids (and their help with the dogs) but we've been planning for this change for the past year. Darrell is in business for himself and has greatly reduced his own hours. He has tremendous flexibility with his job and starting summer 2015 has taken over the communications for Summer Brook, leaving me with even more time for the dogs and puppies themselves.
As we began to anticipate needing extra help as our children left for college, we hired Anna, a wonderful dog loving 20 year old who we've known from church since she was a little girl. She started in late 2014 and works part time keeping our adult dogs bathed and groomed, taking older puppies on excursions away from home for socialization, and helping with younger puppies. Anna also works as a vet tech at our local vet's office and has worked in the kennel at our vet's office since she was in high school. In summer 2015 we hired Zeke, another friend from church who is 17 years of age. He is very good with our dogs and keeping our outdoor areas maintained. We also hired our high school neighbor, Emma in late summer 2015. She wants to eventually go to vet school and is super good with our dogs and puppies. In addition, we have a couple of other high schoolers who want to work when we have puppies here as well as a list of children who can't wait for puppies to be here so that they can come and "help" too. We are very fortunate to have several friends with dog loving responsible high schoolers, several of which are home schooled with flexible hours. We are very well staffed to continue giving our dogs and puppies the very best.
Our Breeding Philosophy
Many people contact us looking for a "white golden retriever puppy with a blocky head". Though all our dogs are a light cream, we do not breed for color and though the head is part of the package, it is not the entire package. We feel that there is so much more in producing a nice litter of puppies. We will only breed the best dogs that meet our very high standards. We have intensely studied the pedigrees of hundreds of dogs looking for those with generations of proven good conformation, good health, and a typical sweet Golden Retriever temperament. Most of our dogs have parents with not only titles earned because of their beauty, but titles proving their worth as working dogs also. While our dogs are beautiful, we believe that a good pet, first and foremost, needs to have a good temperament and be healthy. Our goal is to produce puppies that are physically, intellectually, and temperamentally as close to the FCI breed standard as possible, and then to do all we can to nurture and care for our puppies in such a way that they will have the best possible start in life to develop to their fullest potential.
A Little More About Us
My two daughters are pictured below. 20 year old Jenna is on the left and 18 year old Elise is on the right (as of October 2015, they are 22 and 21).
In addition to our Goldens, we also have four little dogs, Misty a 14 year old mini-schnauzer, Maddie an 8 year old mixed breed, and 2 five-pound 7 year old toy poodles, Samson and Princess. Maddie belongs to my 21 year old daughter and Samson and Princess to my 22 year old daughter. When my daughters finish college, they will go with them. Usually when people come to visit, the little dogs go downstairs to Darrell's 91 year old mother's apartment. We finished half of our daylight basement for Darrell's parents in 2009. Darrell's dad passed away in 2010. His mom is still active and driving and even she is very much a part of Summer Brook Acres. She spends time with every one of our litters and we greatly appreciate her "dog sitting" with our little ones while we visit with families.
God has blessed our family.....almost 25 years married to the man of my dreams, 3 wonderful kids that I couldn't be prouder of, a mother-in-law that I love like a mother, and a house full of the most loving dogs in the world.