The charming Highland home of the golden retriever breed, Guisachan House, has recently become the backdrop for an extraordinary gathering. A multitude of golden retrievers and their dedicated owners have assembled at this ancestral location, where the very first golden retriever puppies were born 155 years ago. The visionary behind the breed, Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, an aristocrat with a passion for creating an ideal gun dog suited to the Scottish Highland landscape, selected Guisachan House as the breeding ground.
In a testament to the breed’s international popularity, owners from across the United Kingdom, continental Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan have converged at the ruins of Guisachan House. This week has been filled with an array of engaging events, including informative talks, interactive workshops, captivating demonstrations, and a memorable night-time procession held near the site, close to the village of Tomich, south of Inverness, and Cannich.
Thursday was set to witness an extraordinary sight—the gathering of one of the largest assemblages of golden retrievers in a single place worldwide. Hundreds of these beloved dogs and their owners were anticipated to unite beneath the remarkable ruins of Guisachan House.
Carol Henry, secretary of the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland, highlighted the importance of this gathering as a means to preserve the breed’s knowledge and heritage. Established breeders recognize the need to safeguard the dogs’ distinct qualities and temperament. However, Mrs. Henry expressed concerns about the detrimental impact of irresponsible breeding during the Covid pandemic lockdowns, which has put these cherished traits at risk. The aim is to uphold the golden retriever’s confidence, biddability, companionship, and loyalty—the very essence upon which the breed was founded.
Participants from more than 12 countries, including Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, the Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia, and Estonia, have come together at Guisachan House. On Tuesday, a captivating procession marked the occasion, commencing at 22:00 and culminating in a mile-long walk to the ruined house. Bagpipe melodies filled the air, welcoming the dogs and their owners to this historic location.
While the anticipated thunderstorms did not materialize, the ever-present Highland midges made their presence known. Nevertheless, the evening concluded on a jubilant note, with a rendition of The Proclaimers’ iconic anthem “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and a continuation of bagpipe tunes, enhancing the festive atmosphere.
These gatherings have become a cherished tradition, occurring every five years and often aligning with significant anniversaries. In 1868, the golden retriever lineage began with the birth of the first litter, born from a Tweed water spaniel, now extinct, and a yellow wavy-coated retriever. The litter, which included Primrose, Cowslip, and Crocus (some accounts suggest a fourth puppy), marked the initial chapter in the golden retriever’s remarkable history. In 1913, The Kennel Club officially recognized the breed, solidifying its esteemed status within the canine world.
While Guisachan House now stands as a ruin, the legacy of this remarkable gathering continues to honor the golden retriever breed’s rich heritage and its profound impact on dog lovers worldwide.