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Party on with Gunner the Golden Retriever

THE Best Family Dog (these  might be fighting words)

 

I have been blessed with dogs my entire life. As an adult, I finally chose the kind of dog I wanted. The breed that resonated was the quintessential family dog: Golden Retrievers. I had three, and what a wild, joyful ride for me (like the E-ticket at Disneyland) and my family.

 

Everybody loves Golden Retriever, right? Mine was fun-loving and inquisitive. It's not an exaggeration to say that Gunner was everybody's dog. He never met a cat, a human, a dog, or a deer that he didn't like or want to get to know just a wee bit more. Sometimes I found it irritating. Why, how, could you get mad at him? Because Gunner loved to meet every person and dog on the trail and then maybe go back and say "hello," again. My thought was it takes more time when you're hiking to meet everybody, but that's how Gunner rolled. 

 

 

Episode #1253 (a slight exaggeration)

 

 

On one afternoon hike, a deer was worth chasing for three hours into the night. It was dark, and I was scared that I wouldn't find him. So, I enlisted friends in the search. It was the late 80s or early 90s, so Park City was a pretty sleepy town. After his deer hunt, he was exhausted, tired, and bedraggled. We were elated to find him! A friend put him in his jeep and drove him the short way home. I was sick with worry and now utterly relieved. After we got home, I poured a bath and a nice glass of chardonnay. It was a Chardy party! Gunner was always so happy to drink out of my glass, not much as I would scold him. Dogs can't drink alcohol, and I'm very aware of that, but he would take cautious little sips. The bubble over his head was, "I think I'm more of a beer drinker, but how would I know. I've never had the pleasure."  

 

First Encounters of the Best Kind

 

Insert puppy pic of Boomer and Gunner

 

I decided to move back to Park City from LA with Jackson, my first Golden Retriever. I remember the first time I met Gunner. I had heard how wonderful he and his brother were from my ex. He wanted me to move back in, and the puppies were a fantastic incentive. Gunner and Boomer bounded down the stairs; they were stinky, muddy, and utterly adorable as they jumped into my freshly detailed car. Gobsmacked, I yelled at them, and they promptly jumped out of the back seat. Much to my dismay, they returned five minutes later, even muddier and repeated. Again, I yelled at them, and Gunner paused to look at me. Finally, I heard him say, "Hey, you big dummy, close the door if you don't want your car dirty. We're just having fun! You need to relax if you're planning on sticking around. You're acting just like Boomer; lighten up.

 

Gunner's Posse

 

We ask every pet what kind of job they would like to have at our house and why.  Then I listen for a reply while watching their body language. My form of communication is simple. I ask the questions, and they respond with their eyes. A blink is "yes," a stare is "no." I can't tell you how much I've heard from my pets when communicating with this simple technique. And then they start talking. ….. Gunner was chatty. At that point, we lived with Gunner, Boomer (his brother), Jackson (a Golden Retriever), Sancho Panza (a white short-haired cat), and Luke (a Bernese Mountain Dog). Eventually, Ajax and Argos (Newfoundland brothers joined the pack). Jackson was the pack leader. He was accidentally poisoned. I knew that he was on borrowed time. So, I asked the other three boys, "If something happens to Jackson, who can I count on to be the boss?"

 

 Then I listen for a reply while watching their body language. My form of communication is simple. I ask the questions, and they respond with their eyes. A blink is "yes," a stare is "no." I can't tell you how much I've heard from my pets when communicating with this simple technique. And then they start talking. ….. Gunner was chatty. At that point, we lived with Gunner, Boomer (his brother), Jackson (a Golden Retriever), Sancho Panza (a white short-haired cat), and Luke (a Bernese Mountain Dog). Eventually, Ajax and Argos (Newfoundland brothers joined the pack). Jackson was the pack leader. He was accidentally poisoned. I knew that he was on borrowed time. So, I asked the other three boys, "If something happens to Jackson, who can I count on to be the boss?"

 

 

 

 

Priceless Reaction

 

 

 

Gunner's response was immediate. "Boomer's the man for the job." Boomer is badass! And you always say, Mom, that all I wanna do is wear Hawaiian shirts, drink beer, and get the ladies pregnant. "You see, that was Gunner's idea of a job. He liked nice girls, he loved swimming and thought the idea of a beer sounded mighty fine. Gunner wanted to be a lifeguard! A book called "Golden's" compares Goldens to Labs, and it describes Golden Retrievers as the type of dogs to wear a lampshade while they party incessantly. He would stuff so many toys in his mouth that he would always have to drop one or two.  

 

 Gunner's zest for life was infectious. His joy and curiosity were unrelenting while he entertained himself and his brothers. When Gunner left us, I swear I could hear him say, "hello."

 

Gunner's Nicknames:

Hello

Gunny

Gun

Sunny Gunny

Funny Gunny

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