Our handsome River turns two today (26th of October) and it so hard to believe he is technically no longer a puppy.
His birthday took place three days after we lost our first Golden retriever the amazing Striker and we always viewed River’s birthdate as a sign of what was meant to be as Striker was born three days after we said goodbye to our big yellow Lab Brady. Each of our three pets have been sent to us in the most perfect but unexpected way. River has grown into a beautiful combination of his lovely mother Vali and his award-winning sire Conan. He is strong and compact with a soft luscious coat that is the colour of sunshine with warm butterscotch undertones.
River has had the advantage of having one of us home or on the go with him for most of the day. This has meant less pent up energy and a nice element of calmness that illuminates at the most surprising of times. It has also made him more inclined to want to be beside us almost every minute even more than the other two and makes him a bit of a sook. By the couch, on the couch, alongside the computer desk, under the dining room table, in the middle of the kitchen, on our bed, under the deck swing set, in our screened in breezeway or one of his favourites – in the car; he is where we are. He is a definite snuggler and gives the most loving of greetings bolting right for you, head down and in position for an long ear rub and little chin scratch. At bedtime his most endearing quality is taking a piece of the bedcover, never tearing or ripping it but instead placing it firmly instead his mouth in a vice grip, breathing in and out heavily through his nose with big puppy eyes that say please, please don’t take it away from me. And we never do. He also leans in when on the bed with us, longing for the contact.
River took his time becoming a water dog but now he is in his full glory when at the beach. He cannot contain himself as he starts to smell the salt air. His bark turns into a heart melting whimper as we pull into Melmerby, Big Island, Powell’s Point, Lawrencetown, Waterside, Caribou or whatever other beach we find. He loves to retrieve water bound sticks in all weather and all four seasons and is especially jubilant when herding seagulls along the shoreline. He is equally joyful catching snowfalls and making snow angels. Digging is irresistible to River and he takes immense pride in uncovering seashells and good-sized rocks.
He is especially kind to children and elders and loves all people with abandonment. We have spent some time teaching River some tricks and obedience finding him a quick study. The usual sit, stay, and down commands are followed well, and he has mastered the concept of “off” beautifully, even curtailing the temptation of a milk bone on his paw. River also enthusiastically and meticulously masters high fives from both sitting and laying positions. River can maneuver a screen door with this nose and recycles his toys, whereas our previous dogs were “one and done”. On the occasions when our backyard gate is mistakenly left open River never leaves this side of our street but always heads straight for our neighbours all of whom he loves. We are most grateful they love him back. In fact, the only bribe which makes him return from the DeMonts is not the usual milk bones, which typically work like a charm for every command, but rather it is the word “cheese” which turns him into a greyhound on a track as he runs to our backyard. It is a sight to behold as River and Bear, the Bernese Mountain puppy next door play together even though two fences separate them -running up and down the fence line in exact unison.
River has filled that aching void that is a bottomless pit when you lose a beloved pet. He did not replace Striker or Brady, yet he fills our home with his own unconditional love, his own distinct personality and his own place in our hearts. So here’s to our young River, winding and weaving through our lives for many, many years to come, rippling, trickling, sometimes boldly flowing, sometimes still yet always filling our home and hearts with love, laughter, excitement and comfort.