Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jake and Jasper...First Day

I had closed escrow on my first house in September or October 1997; finally out of apartment living, in a house with a nice backyard. My mom called the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving. She had seen an advertisement for golden retrievers for sale in Ramona and thought I might be interested.

Shaun was up for the trip, so I called, visited my secret stash of cash, and then we drove. I fully intended to choose a puppy and then return for him before the long Thanksgiving weekend.

We found the house late in the afternoon, met the breeder, and walked around the property to a garage. Along the way she pointed out the the two Mommas. Yes, there were two litters, two weeks apart; the proud stud was off winning blue ribbons somewhere. The prestige of the lineage was not so important to me, but that it suggested an experienced and responsible breeder meant an awful lot. The chances for a healthier pet with a longer life increased exponentially with a professional, not to mention the possibility of beautiful pups.

She raised the garage door and there they were, probably fifteen or twenty, eight and ten week old blond furballs contained within gold movable puppy fencing. They whined and barked and mostly wiggled and climbed all over one another, each wanting to be front and center for whatever attention was being offered. The breeder stopped us in our tracks as we stepped into the garage, she was most officious in her slightly offensive sanitizing regime, and then she may have disappeared.

I had my eye on one from the start but quickly noticed the yarn around his neck indicating he was spoken for. The next most wiggly, smiley, and gregarious one was Jake--I knew he would soon be mine; but not before a romp around the property. The breeder opened the gate and they were off. A litter, or in this case, two litters of puppies must be one of the happiest sights on earth, particularly when they are ready to play and they happen to be the best dogs in the whole wide world, but I'm not biased or anything. Eventually this gaggle of wheat colored Goldens made their way to the grassy knolls of the backyard. They were clumsy and uncoordinated in the way of puppies and babies. They ran, chased and tumbled with each other over the mounds of the property. I foolishly tried to join in their games and was outmatched every time. I lost myself in those moments, I had no idea where the owner of all of those comical animals was, I even lost awareness of Shaun and what he thought of the whole thing. Did he know, as I did, that there was no way I was leaving my dog here till the following weekend?

Eventually, the sky began to turn shades of the setting sun, the clouds spun across the horizon like cotton candy over the distant hills while the air, wet with evening dew, saturated the scene. I turned and was transported from my own happy place to one of the most vivid memories I have. He was standing against the backdrop of those perfectly rolling green hills, absently swaying back and forth as he cradled a platinum blond with deep soulful eyes. He lifted his gaze from the puppy, to me and it was a boy's sweet twinkling smile I saw. They were both looking at me expectantly, hopefully, on that first day, and it was all the convincing I needed.

Two were definitely better than one.

Photo in 2000 at our wedding and in 2005 for Nathan's first walk at Fiesta 2005