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Finger Lakes Series #78 ©

By April 8, 2020 Finger Lakes Photography

“God created landscape photographers so dogs could see the world!”—Himself

Three Goldens and ‘The Red Rocket’: 

Jack, Luke, Riley and Heidi

When I read a friend had lost a Golden Retriever, warm memor
ies of three Goldens’ came to mind; Jack, more red than gold, Luke,
named for my father, and Riley, my in-laws’ dog, Luke’s litter-mate.
Our lives revolved around them.

Jack came first and was pictured in many of my Finger Lakes’
travels, keepsakes now. At eighteen months, he developed bone
cancer. His last day, I made a bed of pillows in my van and we visited
favored places; the parks and lakes and country roads where my
great joy was to watch him run. The vet came to the house. He was
buried in the yard.

Two years later, we were ready love another dog. A litter just
weened in Norwich. Pups eight weeks old. Luke slightly larger. Riley a
tapered jaw. Luke laid back. Riley athletic, excitable. Beautiful crea-
tures. In-laws nearby, the pups aged together.

Age thirteen years, Luke went down. I carried him to our living
room and spent the night with him. In the morning he was gone.

A year later, Riley’s legs gave out. His family and I spent the day
saying good-by. Late afternoon we drove to the vet.

The dogs were family, the memories surface often. Five years
into this unsettled life a crusty old Irishman dropped into my shop
with a version of “have you heard the one about the woman who vis-
ited a gallery on her way to the ‘dog pound?’

And there it was… No joke here. The situation between two
Jack Russels’ had become intolerable. The heart-broken family had
to give one up. Along the way, my friend shifted her into my shop.

I’d believed my next dog would be a Golden or a Lab; a large
creature, sixty or seventy-weight. Heidi tipped the scale at twenty-
one pounds.  “She’s very shy,” the woman said.

I may have had the wool pulled over my eyes, but the instant
Heidi heard herself described as shy, she moseyed over and licked
my hand. The next thing I knew she was sleeping with me! We’ve
been inseparable since.

She came to me with her toys and a red knit coat. Soon after a
display of agility and speed, my neighbor christened her, “The Red

Heidi, The Red Rocket
Rocket.” She is very very fast. And while the Goldens’ communicated
with side-eyes and intermittent barks, Heidi is inscrutable. A stubby,

rapidly oscillating tail is her only ‘tell,’ as she directs often untimely,
high decibel, aggressively challenging, whip-lash inducing, barks at

falling leaves, shadows, birds, dogs on leash and any number of inan-
imate objects.

She has attracted a following. In my shop window, Heidi’s pro-
longed immobility and stare prompts many to regard her as a statue
and possibly for sale. A couple returns often with gifts of squeaky
toys and photographs her as she disarms the squeaker and rips the
toy apart.

Several times a day, we visit the fields behind Allyn Arena where
she replenishes from the athletic fields her trove of lost or abandoned
treasures. It is spirit-rising to see Heidi run at warp speed, as if to out-
run her shadow.

Memories of Jack, Luke and Riley are a comfort and a joy. Heidi is a
work-in-progress as she grows less inscrutable every day. It’s a
shame she never got to meet the cats that ruled the house.