I should back up a bit and share how we came to meet. About 14 months ago, we decided to get a golden retriever puppy. Our first golden had passed away the year prior and our daughter was pushing us hard to get another dog. But she was leaving for school in the Fall of 2008 and we were soon to become empty nest parents. Partially out of fear of being left alone with just me around, I believe my husband agreed to take on the responsibility and costs of another dog. We got the most beautiful, block headed golden retriever puppy and started some vague attempts of training and discipline.
We both believe in the most basic of dog training principles especially the old saying, "a tired dog is a good dog". So, every morning and every evening we take Wrigley for a walk. We live on a golf course that graciously allows us to use the course before and after the golfers play, just so long as we do not leave special "dog treats" in the grass. Being able to allow your dog to run unleashed is such a luxury. It's as if we are on some farm in Kentucky or a grand estate in the English countryside.
During this time, my life had changed dramatically. All my work and volunteering positions all ended in the summer of 2008, so I was not seeing many people anymore. I started this blog and spent countless hours learning how to add videos and join social networking groups, etc. Most of my waking hours, however, were spent alone. I had not planned this time frame well, as I was quite devastated when the kids all left for college. And Bill was working long, hard hours at his office so Wrigley and me were left to fend for ourselves.
One evening when Wrigley was about 7 months old, we ran into a woman who had a golden retriever just 2 months older than ours. Owners of Golden's always immediately like each other for the sheer fact that they choose to own a golden, so we struck up a conversation. She was delightful and friendly. Her dog, Tucker, however, was not at all interested in Wrigley. He went for the throat and attacked our little puppy letting him know, without a doubt who's the alpha dog in this new relationship. I thought to myself, what a crying shame, I would have really enjoyed getting to know this woman. We parted with apologies for our spirited little puppies all wound up.
A few days later, we saw Tucker and Leslie walking towards us on a morning walk. Wrigley dropped down and waited for Tucker to approach. Tucker came up and in some dog body language, they both knew it was okay to play together. Let bounced around like babies rabbits. They tumbled and raced for each other. The humans breathed a collective big sigh and we felt relaxed enough to start a conversation.
Leslie has the kind of voice you could listen to for hours. It's almost an English accent only she resides from Florida. She could have a lucrative career reading for the books on tape. And she's got this unique combination of being one of the kindest people who also has a cutting wit about her. We decided we should walk together each morning. The two dogs became the best of friends. Her thirteen-year old Golden walks with us, too, and the two younger dogs are mindful not to get in his way.
They both have now been neutered and Wrigley is now 20 pounds heavier than Tucker. Sometimes he likes to challenge just who's the alpha dog. We have had several dog altercations, and at times, carried water bottles with vinegar to separate the two dogs. We will not allow our dogs to get in the way of Leslie's and my relationship.
The morning walks are my "safe place" to talk about anything from my fears about Bill's work, to being an empty nester to politics and the economy. I have no idea how she does it, but I always return home feeling better and happier than before the walk.
We have other people who join us on these walks and in the evening, too. The course has actually become a pooch park. The dogs love it, but the people love it more. There is not one person in the group that I do not adore. Maybe dog owners are just more special than other people, I do not know the answer to this question. But, they have become my extended family.
As life's uncertainties come up this year, I feel a layer of protection and comfort due to Leslie and all my "pooch park" buddies. I do believe in fate and that someone set this all in motion for me, which really helps me to understand the saying we repeat in church, "thanks be to God".