Kary Wright‘Ok Ginger, come over here,” I say, slapping the side of my chair. She calmly walks over and stands next to me. I don’t want her near the muzzle of the rifle as I prepare to shoot.

“Now sit there.” She sits down right next to me, paying full attention.

“I’m going to shoot now,” I say. She half closes her eyes in anticipation of the bang.

I am out hunting rodents with my new adventure buddy. She is only 11 months old, and it is amazing how quickly she took to hunting. It seems that it must be somewhere in her genetics. As soon as she knows that we are going hunting, she transforms from a bouncy-nearly-uncontrollable puppy to an adult who seems to be fully trained. Ginger will automatically walk right beside me and not get in front.

Some of you probably read my story a while back about losing my old yellow Labrador retriever, Nakoda, about a year and a half ago. Pet lovers will understand that she was so much a part of my life, that she left a huge hole when she passed. For the last few years we knew it was going to happen one day, and my wife Terry and I had talked extensively about getting another dog. We had owned dogs for over 20 years and decided that we would enjoy embracing our freedom for a while and see how it goes. When Nakoda finally passed, it was devastating. Recalling our newfound-freedom plans, I decided to talk to my wife for verification about our decision. Our lengthy in-depth conversation went something like this:

“So do you think you want another dog?” I ask, bottom lip out.

“Nope,” says she.

End of discussion.

She was right. We wanted and planned for our freedom and now it was our chance. Heck, we could travel with not much more than an overnight bag and a minivan. We could leave the camper for hours on end in hot weather and be out late without worrying about having to get home for a dog. We could stay in any hotel room, not just the pet-friendly low-budget dives with the obligatory air of ashtray-and-spilled-booze, right? We’d be free … free at last … and our expenses would be way down, right? We would not have to pay vet bills anymore. It would be so nice and quiet and blissful! Oh how happy we’d be with no responsibilities to hold us back … how happy!

Fast-forward four months.

At 11 months old, Ginger already knows how to behave when the hunting begins

At 11 months old, Ginger already knows how to behave when the hunting begins.

I have come to a few realizations. Walks with the dog are no fun without a dog. Hanging on to the dog’s leash while walking is a real drag without a dog. Talking to the dog looks really strange to other people when there is no dog. Playing fetch with the dog is a one shot deal when there is no dog. You get the idea.

We were successful in making it about four months without even mentioning the subject of getting a new dog. Secretly I was really missing the companionship. Then one day while wandering a resort town, I noticed a young golden retriever tied to a bicycle, the owner inside the coffee shop. I had some time to kill so I wheeled over and said hi to the dog, who looked right at me with those kind eyes. I reached down and she slowly licked my hand, so I started to pet. She gently put her head on my lap and then crawled up so that I could reach her better. About then my wife came out of the store she was in and smiled as she noticed the dog.

“If we ever get another dog, I think this is the one,” I said.

“So did you talk to the owner? Would they sell her?” she replied, half sarcastically.

“No I didn’t, I can’t imagine anybody selling this dog.” I said.

While we carried on our day and toured around, trying not to give much more thought to the subject, it was hard to get that beautiful dog out of our minds. We were torn between having our freedom and also having a loving pet like the one we had just seen.

A few days later I received a Facebook post. It was a picture of a golden retriever — a newspaper ad: puppies for sale. The message was from my wife! Before I could respond, the door burst open to my man-cave. Terry pulled up a chair and sat down.

“I want a dog,” she said. “What do you think?” No sense in beating around the bush.

I was absolutely elated. I missed our old dog terribly and really wanted another one.

“I love the idea! The only reason I was hesitant about a dog was the extra workload, and I realize that the work is more on you than me. If you want a dog, especially a golden retriever, I am game for that!” I was thrilled.

The order was placed, and as soon as Ginger was old enough, we made the 300-mile drive to pick her up. So now we have a new adventure buddy. She is about a year old now, such a part of the family that we can’t imagine being without her.

Back to the present day.

I gently squeeze the trigger and the gun fires. I look up from the scope — one less rodent to dig holes in the lawn. Ginger looks to me for the “all clear” before standing up and moving around.

“OK Ginger,” I say, swinging the gun around so it is not pointed in front of me. “Let’s continue our walk!”

More dog adventures. I love it! It is one of the true gifts of this life.