We knew we had won. It was probably Jesse, the youngest of the siblings, who held the prize behind his back as we strode triumphantly through Jason's Deli to the table where my parents sat with a group of college students. They had just finished relating that our family had never owned a pet because, really, isn't it the pet who owns you? We stopped just short of the table and held out our new pet, George, the beta fish. The pet store was just down from the restaurant and we went to look at the animals and wonder at what it might be like to have one of our own, when we saw the sign, "get a red gumball, receive a free beta fish". After sneaking into the van and taking all the quarters we could find (as well as stuffing countless pieces of green, blue, and yellow gum balls into our drooly mouths), behold--a red gumball! Of course we hadn't considered the fish food, bowl, water sanitizer, rocks, etc that weren't "free". However, we were proud new pet owners and really enjoyed George for a good solid...week. He made a lap in the tiny bowl about once a day and took about 24 hours to recuperate from his exertion before he attempted the feat again. About 6 months after George's adoption into our family, we sat down for Saturday morning pancake breakfast. "Amen" we said, after thanking God for the meal, and our eyes lifted to see George belly up. Only one little pair of eyes shed tears--the other, less sympathetic, Morgans found humor in the scene. I don't recall if we continued eating with George as the centerpiece or immediately took a recess for the processional to the bathroom where my Daddy played "Taps" on the trumpet as George swirled toward Davy Jones' locker. My momma wrote an obituary and emailed it to those who were with us at Jason's Deli that fateful day. The George experience got the pet bug out of my system. I didn't want a pet after that because I didn't see the point. What's their purpose? They don't talk, require lots of care and maintenance, cost money, make messes you have to clean up, and they stink.
I'd only been in McCarthy about a week when I decided I wanted a dog. You get to know the dogs in McCarthy, often, before you know the owners. None have leashes, all are good to people, and they determine the pecking order early in the season so all summer each dog knows his place and behaves appropriately with very few uprises. I also loved freedom (or peace of mind) a dog provides here--I was quite nervous to explore by myself (see my post here from last summer about trying to ward off bears by singing Cat Stevens' "Morning Has Broken" so as not to sneak up on one accidentally). At least a dog would be more likely to know if a bear was around so I could act accordingy.
Not ever having a dog before, I had a lot of research to do. Austin grew up with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and all the other dog breeds I mentioned liking didn't compare, in his mind, to Chester--his childhood best friend. So, if I ever wanted a dog, I could see I had to be okay with a Chessie. When I proposed we get a Chessie, he came around. Online, I found a litter right along our flight path in Rawlins, Wyoming that would be just the right age as we were passing through. "Coco" who we renamed "Edison Mudhole Robel" or "Eddie" for short, joined us for the last hour of our trip from Anchorage to Greeley, Colorado.
From the start, Ed's been a great dog. I understand the "point" of having a pet now. It is so nice, on days when Austin works and I'm at home, to not be the only breathing thing in the house. He's a great running, biking, swimming, and hiking buddy. He's eager to please and quite calm for a puppy (unusual for the breed--we were lucky!). He is my shop dog now and is greeted by all who come in, out, or by Kennecott Trading Company. Ed has lots of time to lay in the sun on the store deck and snooze. However, he has been loaned to several friends as a running companion and gets more exercise as he swims in the swimming hole fetching sticks we throw, playing with the McCarthy dog pack, chasing birds, and running aside the four wheeler. What a life for a pup!
It's interesting how much easier it is to meet people when a dog is the icebreaker. I love the life of being an Ed-owner. Here are some clips of his summer adventures.