River possesses a soft yet intense stare with charcoal rimmed milk chocolate eyes that melt the heart and guarantees him more than his fair share of the family room couch. This, however, is far from his only demand. If there happens to be a stray blanket or too many pillows on the couch he sits very still and then delivers an intelligent stare, signalling us to clear the path that will give him the full berth that he believes is his birthright. Once comfortably positioned he is very willing to share his space with us, loving the opportunity to snuggle up beside whoever of our family wins his favour, draping himself over our laps or accepting a cozy pillow for his big, soft golden head. This burning desire to be close occurs frequently but most often after an outing he has not been with his humans. He also has a new habit that after he has been given his breakfast he goes back upstairs and catches 40 winks as he stretches out on our queen-sized bed. Why not? That is where he spends most of his night’s sleep. It is clear, his expectations of his family include all the comforts of his “castle” as well as designated and significant River time.
River barks mostly to send messages. My favourite is his “thank goodness you’re back home” bark that begins when we pull into our driveway. From inside our fenced-in backyard he lets out a joyful yet deeper than normal bark as he twirls and dances until we are inside the gate where we shower him with hugs, pats and kisses. Once in the house his sounds cease as he grabs his favourite toys – a stuffed duck or frozen tennis ball and paces back and forth, preening as he wounds and weaves around Barry, Darcy and me so very proud and happy. He has also quickly learned his barking gets him a rolled down window on a ride to the beach no matter the season or temperature. He loves to lean out the window with his nose to the wind and his ears flapping.
River also uses his deep voice to greet the big Bernese mountain puppy next door, Bear, whom he loves and wants to play with at every opportunity. To see River and Bear play is a sight to behold. They greet each other like long lost brothers in arms, leaping, running, hopping and chasing – reminding me of a classic scene of two stallions frolicking wild and free in wide open spaces.
Aside from these times of communicating key desires, River is not a big barker. He has a certain serenity and watchfulness that allows him to take it all in and be a most keen observer. He has mastered the art of giving, not only high fives, but high tens and will perform at command- anything for carrots, cheese or milk bones. He has become increasingly fond of having his own blanket to sooth him and still holds it in his mouth as he drifts off to sleep. It is an incredibly endearing trait that earns him extra hugs, kisses and baby talk. He thinks he is supposed to do repetitive 360s to have his breakfast food placed in front of him but, it is a response he initiated on his own due to his unbridled excitement to receive his meals.
River is an old soul at two years with innocent puppy eyes which make him a beautiful contrast and combination of jubilation, calmness and devotion.