Man's Most Loyal Friend

I have had two incredibly faithful dogs: Parker, a huge 100-pound golden retriever, and Buster, a 110-pound yellow lab. Parker was with me for 12 years, Buster for 10 years.

In time, they both fell ill and had to take the horrible one-way trip. Sad as that thought is, the memories are wonderful. As I write this, I’m smiling. When I write about one of them, the memories are interchangeable because they both had the same characteristics and emotions.

Although we had a family of six—me, my wife and four kids—both dogs knew who their true companion was. Those dogs would be playing with my kids, but when I walked into the house they would freeze mid-step, rotate and launch themselves at me. From that moment, they were never more than two steps away from me. They would find a way to jam themselves under the kitchen table and lay on my feet at dinner, causing my kids to laugh.

Parker was an amazing fishing buddy. When I cast my fly upstream, he would stand chest deep in the river shaking with anticipation, waiting for me to say, “Fish on—hold!” Amazingly, he seemed to know the difference between a rainbow and a whitefish. He would lift a rainbow with a tender mouth and hand it to me. But with whitefish, he would lunge, grab and haul the fish up the bank and drop it. Smart dog, even if he could never get the hang of a smooth back-cast.

Parker, on the other hand, would watch my cast, charge into the water, then swim in circles looking for my strike indicator. How he loved to swim! I could toss a branch three-quarters of the way across the river and he would bust the current, searching until he found it, usually a quarter mile downstream. He’d drag it back and stand looking at me as if saying, “let’s go again”!

Parker passed three years ago, leaving me dogless for the first time in 40 years.


My son called yesterday to say he’d just bought an eight-week-old yellow lab. He wants me to go pick the puppy up for him, and I will have to be careful, because this puppy has eight brothers and sisters…

Any ideas as to how this story may end?