I grew up, mostly by myself, on the Chesapeake Bay. I spent my days watching minnows nibble at my toes, running and jumping off the dock into the brackish water, climbing mulberry trees, and eating black raspberries until my mouth turned purple. Not like I was a feral child, I have parents and everything, but I’m an only child, and I lived in an old farm house on a ten acre plot of land, 20 minutes from the closest town; so, I spent a lot of time alone.
In fifth grade our county got a movie theater. In seventh grade a Dominos came to town. My friends, Zach and Tory, and I were ecstatic, we couldn’t wait to order delivery. We called multiple times a day that first week, but they repeatedly reminded us that they would never deliver to a house 9.1 miles away.
The point is, I lived in the middle of nowhere. Literally. Don’t try Google Maps-ing a Starbucks in my town. Like I said, I spent my time down by the creek and wandering the woods. I said I was alone a lot, but that’s not completely accurate. I always had a dog. First Stout, then Tammy and Suds. We wrestled and ran and rolled in the mud, I cried on their shoulders, whispered in their ears, and when I picked black raspberries down at the beach on summer mornings, they always got a few. The dogs were my confidants, coconspirators, and friends.
In ninth grade I went to boarding school, and never really looked back. (I mean, obviously I went home on vacations, I just never moved back….It’s ok, Mom…don’t lose hope). After high school I moved farther West for four years in LA at USC. Those were 8 years without a dog in my life and I felt the absence. I always missed having a big puppy settle his blocky head in my lap. Especially in my senior year of college when Suds passed away.
After college I did a brief stint as a waitress/bartender/maid/house-elf at a ranch in Montana. Then I moved back to LA. Well, I moved to Long Beach, which, compared to LA, is kind of like that cousin who just got a DUI and went back to jail and you try not to mention at family parties. But the neighborhood I lived in was awesome and it was so great to be back in California with my college friends, my boyfriend, and a real life grown up job in Torrance, CA.
From the moment I moved back to California I wanted a dog. I imagined taking him on runs (I’d never gone on a run in my life), him greeting me in the evenings when I got home (I worked 9 hour days with an hour commute each way), and snuggling on the couch with me (because if there’s one thing a puppy that’s been cooped up in an apartment all day wants to do, it’s sleep on the couch). I lived in a studio over a one car garage with a big deck and concrete patio. There was a tiny little garden area (in which I killed a lemon tree) and a skinny strip of grass in an alley next to the house that was also on the property. I was sure a golden retriever would be happy there.
I was wrong. But, lucky for me, and lucky for any puppy I would have obtained, I stayed footloose and pet-free.
Then I moved to Colorado. My boyfriend and I were apartment hunting and our favorite was a duplex half a mile from town. It had two bedrooms, a big back yard and an island in the kitchen. I loved it. The landlord called me to chat and asked if we had a dog. “No.” I replied. She sighed and said “oh…we are really dog people.” I hurried to explain myself. “Oh! Well I grew up with dogs, I love them too! I have two who still live with my parents on the Chesapeake Bay.” “Oh,” replied the skeptical landlord, “where on the Chesapeake?” I told her and we realized we had actually lived in the same town. It seemed kind of like fate, and, out of 50 other applicants, we got the apartment. It was the perfect place for a puppy, but I wanted one from the line of dogs I grew up with. So the day we moved in I called everyone I knew with a golden from our line and asked for puppies.
Then I waited.
That was August 2011.
In July 2012 we bought a house. Our skeptical dog-loving landlords turned out to be real estate agents. They helped us find an awesome ranch home with a huge back yard and lots of room for a puppy to hang out. Once again I sent out the word. I also checked petfinder.com, the Humane Society, and bigdogshugepaws.com daily.
Finally, almost a year later, my mom gchatted me: there was a litter of puppies, and one of them was for me. After four years of waiting, I had another 8 weeks, and a puppy would be mine.
I was terrified.
But, after lots of convincing and research, we decided we were ready. And on July 8th, 2013 I instagrammed the following photo before flying home to bring Bender back to CO.
So I brought Bender home. And this blog is the chronicle of That Darn Dog’s life with us in Colorado. Thanks for reading 🙂