What to do for the man who doesn’t have kids, on Father’s Day? Let it go unobserved or acknowledge what a great provider, human being and dog dad he is? I’ve opted for the latter for my wonderful husband Peter.
This early photo of Peter and River may have been the day we brought our baby home.
Knowing they would make a great collection for a special Father’s Day greeting, I set them aside for today’s post.
Isn’t this the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen? All together, “ahhh!”
This series cracked me up!
They were taken at the dog area at Marymoor Park. River was exactly 10 weeks old.
This was the first time he got in open water and probably the last time he needed any encouragement to do so.
At first he dips his nose in the stream.
Then, with Papa pointing the way, River gets in the water.
He finally gets all they way in so he is thoroughly wet, a condition he’d spend so much of his life in that occasionally I thought he smelled of mildew!
It’s funny – in my mind, this day was about Peter teaching River to swim. Yeah, right!
Eventually, when he’s no longer concerned about the water, River turns his attention to something off-shore, probably a duck.
I don’t recall if he actually swam on that day. It was cold so it may have been spring before River took the plunge, but we have plenty of evidence that he swam before he was a year old.
This was taken at Double Bluff Beach on Whidbey Island in March of 2003. It’s a long, luxurious stretch of sandy off-leash beach, perfect for a curious flat-coated retriever puppy.
River was about 7 months old.
This is one of my favorite images of him – wet from swimming in the surf, muzzle covered in sand from digging at the spouts made by clams, the fatigue evident in his eyes, but not yet ready to leave.
Years later, I commissioned a portrait based on this image.
A charcoal pencil drawing, it was a Christmas gift for Peter and hangs in our living room.
It was unusual to have a good still image of River, he wasn’t much for having his picture taken, much less sitting still.
This was our 2003 family Christmas picture.
Try as we might, costumes and River were not compatible.
This is the best we could achieve Halloween of his first year. It’s effective though, and made us laugh even if the trick-or-treaters didn’t notice the subtlety. Sometimes, less really is more. What a ridiculous pair!
I’ve mentioned before that River liked to climb up in Peter’s lap at the end of the day. Here they are in a much more recent photo. It’s Thanksgiving vacation in 2010 and we’re in British Columbia. After days of play on the beach and in the snow, a dry River settled into his favorite place to look out the window of our cabin at Point No Point.
That vacation, as with nearly every other one we took during the 10+ years that River was with us (he will always be part of our family), involved being outdoors. Here the dogs hike with Peter up an old logging trail, in the snow near Tofino on Vancouver Island.
I can honestly say that I have no regrets about the life we provided for River (and Buddy). Many of our leisure pursuits are dog-focused. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is at Salt Spring Island (also in BC) in May or June of 2007. This spot overlooked the water but was too steep for River to swim so we kept him tightly leashed.
They certainly look happy together. What handsome pair!
This is a quintessential shot of Peter throwing a ball way far out into the water for River to fetch. This photo was taken summer of 2010 at our weekend haunt, the off-leash beach in Edmonds.
River was Peter’s capable apprentice in many endeavors.
Here the dogs assist and stand watch over our 2009 Christmas tree cutting adventure.
We had to watch River carefully once the tree was on the ground, lest he decide it was his toy.
River was always a big help in the yard, quick to haul away the biggest stick and help Peter by pruning off all the small branches.
The kitchen was another place I was sure to find the two of them.
Here Peter is preparing a meal last Thanksgiving, at our friend’s cottage near Bellingham.
River’s always at the ready, available to clean up any scraps that fall to the floor.
In our house, I didn’t bother to try to help when Peter was cooking dinner – there was simply not room for me with the large “dog rugs” in the way.
I’ll wrap up this Father’s Day greeting with my thanks to Peter, for taking care of me and the dogs so well over the past 15+ years.
He took this picture at the 2005 Seattle ALS Walk at Seward Park, proving that I do get out from behind the camera occasionally.
(Once again, we’re at a beach and River is staring hopefully out at the water. Despite it being illegal, I think I let him wade out in the water, to the very end of his 26′ leash!)
We all miss River!
It’s been an emotional morning putting this together.
Wandering down memory lane, reminded of our lives together by images of River has been sweet and sad.
We really loved that dog.
Coming full circle with this post, here I am holding our puppy on the same day as the first photo of Peter and River.
Happy Father’s Day to the best dog dad ever!