Whilst the rest of us hunker down for those long dark days of winter, she welcomes when the hot summer days turn crisper.
It was those kind brown eyes that I first gazed upon, staring in our frosty window that January 1st eve, with icy bits dangling from the ringlets underneath her ears. It twas love at first sight.
She is a canine of the colder climes, a flock guardian, of high mountain-tops toqued with snow. Thus her fav place in winter is atop the snowdrifts that gather outside our door.
I realized a couple years back that one or another of her ancestry gave her these little tufts of hair that disappear as the days grow warmer in the spring, and reappear in fall, around her eyes and all along her snout.
She, em, well, I like to call her an Irish Lake Retriever… Or perhaps a Canadian Retriever. One of a kind, aka, a mutt. From what I gleaned from her old owner, she is a mix of Golden Retriever, Yellow Lab, Burmese Mountain Dog, and some other mystery dog I can’t recall; perhaps some sort of terrier.
Her demeanor is what I would term passive-assertive.
Thus, for most of her days, she is a lovely and charming companion. With this goofiness that even the most hardened warm up to, and therefore a neighbourhood hit. Some see her wise eyes, and golden mane, and others her puppy exuberance, and goofball nature.
Yet, her Alpha femaleness rears its head once in a while; such as when BealArt guy visits.
She’s made it clear to him, on a couple of occasions, that while she may have affection for him, I am her human. She protects me, with her light growl as strangers passing by choose to linger at the little doorway to our private world a little too long. While it is not in her nature to bite, and has not once even nipped, she uses her concrete stubbornness to her advantage and you soon realize that underneath that golden tufted blond bombshell and goofy character lies that guardian of her flock. To her mind, if you’re in your in, but if you’re out your out.
There is a ‘we’ about her and me, as it has really only been her and I these last four years since Tim’s death.
She came, out of the midst of a blizzard, on the first day of 2010 like a gift from the Universe. I couldn’t know at that time what my future would hold, and how essential she would become to my sanity. Filling those lonely days with long walks that first November after he died around that long, country block. Past the Lamas, and along the old abandoned railway path. Past golden rises, and old farm houses that had stood the test of time. Just her and I along those old gravel roads of Grey.
And when the gales of winter descended, she was my only companion. And so we’d curl up on the bed together, and I would quietly watch as the snow slowly obscured the cedar ringed lake.
That next March, my brother-in-law drove that long 3 hours up to our county of Grey and bundled us up to return me to my home in Dodge.
Found a job, found a place, and here we are, as I’ve said before, back where I’ve always wanted to be.
Just her and I.
The wonderful thing about having a dog is you never actually feel alone. As her warm body presses close to mine as I drift off to sleep, I know she has my back.
And on our walks down at the old abandoned orchard at The Coves, I love watching her race off up the path ahead, off on her own adventure. For this year, when I call, she comes, and that is new.
With long training, I have taught an older dog a new trick – to LISTEN. I showed her how listening benefits her with freedom to roam. I sit her down, unhook the leash, and say in her ear “be good”… and off she’ll go, racing ahead, and leaping off into the grass on the trail of some varmint or other. I call it “hunting the snark’.
So on that well-worn path that rings the orchard we explore, and it feels good to be home. Back to this place I always wanted to be, and I am so thankful she is here.