Red had found the breeders, a lovely couple about 150 miles from our place. Their male dog Windsor is one of the most magnificent and friendly golden retrievers I’ve ever met, and the mom, Lady, is a sweet thing who reminded me so much of my beloved Willow, who had left us five months earlier.
On the way down we went over dozens of possible names for the new puppy. I’ve told you this story before: When we got to the name “Summer,” we paused for a few moments and I said, “I don’t know why, but ‘Summer’ has passed the ‘choke Warren up’ test.” And a few moments after that, Red replied in a quivery voice, “Me too,” and we knew we were going down to meet Summer.
The next step was picking her out of the crowd. We had made arrangements to adopt a female, we had first pick, and Lady had dutifully delivered eight girls and two boys a month earlier. Red had picked out Dejah eight years earlier, so it was my job to pick out Summer.
I decided to literally dive in: I stepped over the fence into the puppies’ play area, sat down, and let the little ones climb over me. And climb, and climb, and climb. I was in there for 45 minutes. Do you think it would be fun to let 10 puppies crawl over you for 45 minutes? You have no idea!
The only real way to tell them apart was they had 10 different-colored collars. Of course the puppy who seemed most interested in me was one of the two little boys. But we wanted a female, and so I apologized to the little guy and spent most of my time with his many sisters.
For a while I thought I was going to pick the one with the green collar, and then blue, and then purple, but slowly I started building a bond with the one in the yellow collar, whom the couple had code-named Mimosa. She was — oh, heck, I have tried to reconstruct in my mind why yellow-collar and I gravitated to each other, but I honestly can’t remember. All I know is after 45 minutes I had her wrapped in my arms, almost weeping, because I loved Willow so much and this poor little fluff ball was going to be tasked with taking Willow’s place in the family.
This was Aug. 29, 2021, so Tuesday was the second anniversary of Summer’s “Gotcha Day,” or whatever you call the day you pick a pup. Summer has adopted the classic golden retriever habits, like lying down five inches from the wheels of my desk chair or sitting down next to me with that attitude of “You may pet me now.”
We are adjusting together with life without Red, Tuesday also being the second-month anniversary of my beloved’s passing. On balance it was an anniversary full of happy memories. Red seemed to have almost as much fun watching me cavort with the puppies as I had in the cavorting.
And 2021 was a happy year on balance. We gained a grandson and a puppy who have been sources of endless delight. It was sweet to think back on Gotcha Day and the anticipation of bringing Summer home a couple of weeks later. And Summer still chokes me up from time to time.