It's my Arnieversary, so Happy Valentarnie's Day.

I got Arnie 4 years ago yesterday. His actual birthday is December 26th, but he came to me - about 7 weeks old - on Valentine's Day 2004.

He came from a breeder in Northern Colorado. The owners are very protective of their pups, and won't release them until they've approved his or her new home, so they drove the him to my house in Carbondale (four hours away) intending to have a look around.

I flung open the door before they knocked, and without noticing the humans standing on my porch, I reached for the puppy, all huge paws and wagging tail. It was love at first sight, and the breeders didn't bother to run through their standard questions: Where will he sleep, what will you feed him, how much time will he be alone during the day.... They knew he'd be loved and adored and taken care of, so they happily left the pup and headed home.

I named him Arnie, and we were inseparable from that moment forward. I had never owned a dog all by myself before, so Arnie and I kind of grew up together. As I made mistakes as a "parent," we both learned the importance of training and discipline. I eventually learned that even though I love Arnie, sometimes I had to be firm with him - like when he rolled in dead animal carcasses, for example, and wanted to hop on the couch immediately afterwards....see, that's bad.

Arnie is very mellow. He takes everything in stride, doesn't seem to take it too personally on the rare occasions when I do have to put my foot down ("No, Arnie, you can't have a slice of pizza"). That said, there's very little that Arnie doesn't share with me. He is my running partner, skiing partner, road trip buddy and frequent pillow.

Arnie is an athlete and friend, family member and sage. On cold mornings, Arnie keeps me company when I shovel the driveway, making snow-angels, burrowing into the drifts, and reminding me to have fun, to relax. In the summer, Arnie and I swim in a creek near our house. He's learning to dive from the big rock into the deepest part of the swimming hole, and when he pops his big yellow head up from underwater, he snorts and sneezes and smiles at me, his wagging tail serving as a rudder.

Three years ago, when I met Brad, I worried that Arnie would be jealous. But he embraced his new friend, falling in love with Brad instantly. A firm "Heeler Man," Brad initially dismissed Golden Retrievers as silly (well, of course they are - that's why they're so freakin' awesome). Arnie was patient, though, and eventually taught Brad that Goldens are probably wiser than any of us - all open-hearts and compassion, love and warmth.

Brad is now a confirmed "Golden Man," too.

Happy Arnieversary, buddy.


Shauna said...

Goldens are the best ever. I will have one once we have a yard for him to play in.

Are those his presents in the photo?

Libby said...

It's amazing, the power of a relationship with our canine companions, isn't it? Sometimes I'm just awed by how much owning a dog has enhanced me as a person.

Arnie's story is so sweet and it's so clear how much you love him, happy Arnieversary to you both. :)