River, our handsome two-year-old golden retriever, has an intriguing personality that continues to combine charm and kindness with pensive thought. He is often intense and a little serious, staring with deep, dark, warm brown eyes. He even possesses an inner serenity that is quite unusual for his breed. As you stare into those big beautiful eyes, one can not help but ponder what is it that he is really thinking.
At two and a half he is certainly not the handful our other two exuberant family dogs, Striker and Brady, were at that age but he does have his moments that underscore no matter how controlled he appears, he is still little more than a puppy with a puppy heart and brain. He continues to use two special blankets as his “sookie” and likes nothing better than to hold on to the blanket and bury his nose into the softness while he snuggles close to one of the three of us.
With the security of a fenced in backyard, that we did not enjoy with our other two dogs, we have significantly mitigated risk for River to escape. However, the “best made plans of mice and men often do go awry” and folly sometimes ensues. Two recent miscues come to mind. Just a few evenings ago as I was waiting for some colleagues to pick me up for a work-related outing I exited through the front door of course thinking it had closed firmly. It had in fact swung back in place but did not fully close thus when a slight breeze blew through the door going open. This left River full rein to go where he pleased, and we can only imagine his immense pleasure when he first discovered his new freedom.
As far as we can surmise, the minute he saw our neighbour walking his big chocolate Labrador retriever Hersey by our house, River bolted flying across the street to greet the two. Fortunately, there were no cars passing by and our neighbours were able to quickly keep control of Hersey while one harnessed River in and escorted him safely home to his surprised brother Darcy who hadn’t even had time to realize River had fled the scene.
Then only a week later, River’s Dad Barry left the gate open by mistake when carrying some things from the car into the house and once again River seized the day. It did not take Barry long to realize River had vacated our yard, so he began to search the neighbourhood. Sure enough River was two doors down socializing with a big Golden Doodle named Otis. The silver lining to the story is that typically when River meets Otis while being walked on leash he is sometimes less than friendly. This has perplexed us greatly. Turns out the leash must be the problem as River’s escape demonstrated clearly the two are buddies after all and the friendship continues on-leash and off.
River is a star in the making whenever walking the streets of small towns or beaches throughout Nova Scotia as his kind nature is a magnet to dog lovers of all ages. On a recent trip to Main Street Tatamagouche, at Earltown General Store and on the shores of Rushton’s Beach, River, all along the picturesque Sunrise Trail, he was quietly charming all from ages eight to 80. While at Earltown we ran into a friend, Maria, who was often a guardian angel to our other golden, Striker, when we were on vacation. As she had moved out of province for the past few years she had not had the chance to meet River but was impressed by his handsome face, lovely coat and inner calm. “This one’s an old soul,” she proclaimed after sizing him up only for a minute, instinctively understanding his personality and character. She also chuckled that our incorrigible but also very loveable Striker had never grown up and had remained a puppy to the end. River greeted her gently and calmly from his seat in our SUV lapping up her kind compliments and pats sitting regal and stately. River has also turned out to be a great catcher and can snatch a treat in midair no matter how fast or inapt the throwing technique. River is also up for catching a fountain stream of water as Darcy challenges him to a game of catch with the garden hose. River watches with intent as the water arches and streams back and forth; then makes his move with stealth.
River’s grandmother, who is nearing 96 years, is very fond of him. Now living in a nursing home, she does not get to see River as often as she once did but at a recent family gathering she was able to come to our house and was very much looking forward to seeing Mr. River as she calls him. River did not let us down and made her visit a memorable one. Firstly, the look on his little face when he saw her getting out of the car in our driveway was a sight to behold. He just stood still and stared intently at her as if he could not quite believe the good fortune that his Gramie was visiting. Once she was settled in the house, River was allowed to enter and he greeted her with excitement yet in a most gentle manner. When we gathered around the dining room table he crawled under the table, lay at her feet with two paws lightly placed on her feet as if to say he was not going to let go. This pleased her to no end and River true to his loyal character never left her side. It was a magical moment and testament to River making his own indelible mark on our family.