The Origin of Cave Dog

original cave dog

by Michael Havens 

A number of people have asked me, what’s the story behind the name, Cave Dog?  So here it is:  Since 1983, I have had the privilege of sharing my space and running the vineyards with a family of Golden Retrievers.  This began in 1978, when I met a marvelous Golden pup named Montrachet, owned by my friend John Williams at Glenora Winery in New York’s Finger Lakes region.  John moved out with “Shay” to Napa Valley, founding Frog’s Leap Winery, and in 1983 I moved from teaching at UCLA to living in Napa and teaching at UC Davis.  Shay’s first litter of pups (with mate Romanee) was too tempting, and in November of 1983, we brought lovely Gevrey Chambertin (“Shamber”) into our home.  Since then, we’ve also had his pup Mazis Chambertin and his niece Beze in our lives (Beze is pictured above asking for the next frisbee toss).  Beze sadly left us just before the 2019 harvest.  But we have the new joy of pup Maple, another smart and joyful Golden. 

our new puppy Maple

Mazis often reminded his humans of dogs' wolfish origins by curling up in anything resembling a cave, and by rubbing his body up against everything in his home to "mark" it as his own.  This lupine behavior led us to call him “cave dog.”  One day I had Mazis in the winery, and he was getting into something he shouldn’t (as he often did), and I yelled over to him, “Hey Cave Dog, get over here!”  One of my worthy cellar crew heard it and said, “’Cave Dog’?  That’s a better name than ‘cellar rat’!  I’m using that!”  So it stuck:  A Cave Dog is one who works in the wine cellar.  But it always implies to me someone who explores the deep places and who, like a Golden Retriever, rejoices in being alive.