Snow angels, frosty beach walks and cosy winter nights …

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River continues to grow into a lovely dog who showers us with affection and soaks up hugs and kisses, while keeping us entertained and yes, on our toes.

There are surprises and smiles around every corner. The Christmas tree hunt with River was an experience to remember because he thought it was a most exciting wilderness adventure as he romped vigorously throughout the tree farm while we tried to meticulously choose the perfect tree. When the tree of choice was finally selected and was being chopped down by my husband and our son, I was put in charge of keeping River at bay. Suddenly he lunged forward wanting to be part of the action.

I was taken aback and quite frankly in pain as I felt my arm move out and then back in its socket. Seventy-five pounds of pure strength and exuberance bottled together in one package, River didn’t quite know his own strength. Turns out that I didn’t quite know my own either as I surprised both of us with my sudden ability to keep him under control. River has never felt such a firm pull back on his leash from me before and it shocked the whole family as usually I would have either let go of the leash or landed face first on the ground.

Of course, the adrenaline pumping from the annual discussion about which tree was the right one had us all revved up and ready to take on the world along with my gut reaction to the shock. River sat beautifully while the tree fell and was more than happy to bounce along beside it as Barry dragged it back to our SUV.

Once the tree was home and then decorated, he was quite intrigued taking tasty nibbles of fir and ornaments. Finally, we decided that it might be smarter to have only lights at the bottom portion of our tree so all ornaments were moved up several branches much to River’s disappointment. After a few days, the novelty wore off and he was generally well behaved around it with only the occasional irresistible chomp.

Another evening over the holidays as I pulled into our driveway after a lengthy outing of Christmas shopping, I noticed a sweet looking golden retriever sniffing and snooping at the neighbours’ front door. I thought to myself, they must have a dog visiting and how strange that he looks a lot like River from the back when it hit me, this was our River!

At that very moment, I also noticed that our gate to the backyard had flung open from the wind. I jumped out of the car, running over calling his name and what does he do but takes off to another house, running up on to their deck. I finally cornered him and once again we face off as I take him by the collar to lead him home. Not an easy task with high heeled boots.

River was not overly impressed that I had spoiled his outing but he seemed to pick up something in the crisp winter air that told him not to mess with the mamma.

River is also developing his own endearing habits such as his love of cold temperatures and playing in the snow as well as his desire to chew on his bones outside after every meal time. Snow play is also a great favourite of his sire, Conan, so the Kaasem’s apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. On a long and chilly recent walk, along majestic Melmerby Beach, River was not a bit put off by the chilly temperatures and frosty mist coming on shore, off the ocean. He was running gleefully, playing at full tilt and even braved a dip up to his haunches as the dark green waves swelled to the shoreline as we shivered and endured the cold for his enjoyment. River was delirious with his excitement about the light dusting of snow over the sand and proceeded to literally make snow/ sand angels with unbridled joy.

With temperatures lowering even further and staying frigid for days as of late, walks on the beach have been replaced by ones in Trenton Park with more protection and no tempting frigid water. River is good to stay with Barry as they go for long walks or leisurely jogs and he is pleasant, curious and friendly to whomever he meets, two legged or four.

River also greatly loved the many family gatherings and visits by friends over the holidays and they were suitably impressed by his kindness, big beautiful puppy eyes and his routine of naps under the kitchen table during meals. This provided some peace admit the chaos of the grand greetings, the turning inside out from the baby talk directed to him and his sloppy, loving licks.

River has also settled into sleeping right beside us for the whole night. Just a few nights ago, his massive coat was supplying such heat to both Barry and I, due to his positioning straight up and down between us, it felt like we had been placed inside an inferno. There’s nothing like a real fur to keep you warm, especially when it comes with a beating heart and a massive mane. We tried to move him to the bottom of the bed but River was completely out of it, his eyes rolled back and his limbs stretched out. He didn’t move a muscle no matter how much we pushed or begged. We couldn’t help but roar laughing, pat him, kiss him and watch him sleep like a baby as we kicked off the covers.

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