Letter from Lori M.

Jennifer, and Opal
Though my sweet Chrys-haefen boy is six years old today, my link with the kennel actually goes back decades. I was about fourteen when my parents finally relented (meaning Mom finally relented) and allowed us to have a dog. A veterinarian recommended that Dad get in touch with Jennifer at Chrys-haefen Kennels. I remember Dad taking us girls out to the kennel in Alliston, heading down the basement stairs to the cozy litter bed to choose our pup. Dad brought home our first golden retriever several weeks later. He looked like a fluffy lamb in a blanket box. We named him Luke and we just adored him, well, everyone but Mom, who resented clean up duty. Sadly, he died at the age of three. Dad was distraught and, in time, called upon Jennifer again to see if there might be any pups available soon. Mom and I were in no hurry. I was still grieving and Mom….well…..she was still cleaning. Within weeks Dad came home with Ben (I think his pedigree was filed under the word Sunshine for some reason). Ben was as mischievous as Luke had been docile, and it took me a while to bond with him. Mom stood with the pail and repeated the oft- heard phrase, “That dog’s days are numbered.” Ben was with me from high school until the day I married, and one day after several months of married life away from home, I collapsed in tears, not from homesickness, but because I missed my dog so much. Ben adored my husband and often rode shotgun in the front seat of our car, window down, head hanging out, tunes blasting, …cruising chicks, my husband would joke. Ben was not too happy to give up his seat to me. We were in charge of taking him to the family cottage because he was so happy to ride in the hatchback and chomp on a new bone. On the day we brought our first born to Mom’s, a friend brought the infant in the house and upstairs for me. We marvelled at the way Ben cornered me whenever this baby cried, as if to tell me I was needed urgently. How did he know this “creature” was mine? Ben’s tail was a disaster; a tornado in a room. It cleared coffee tables, whipped reading glasses off faces, and in time, knocked over our just sitting six month old. These were hilarious moments. When his tail wasn’t moving, Mom complained he was always in her kitchen, under foot. Of course, he had to greet everyone with a gift, too. He even gingerly crumpled Mom’s reading glasses numerous times while in gift mode, and Mom eventually resigned and wore them crooked, anyway. It was several months after we’d had our second child that I got the call that Ben was dying in the veterinary hospital. He’d lived to eleven years of age, and this time it was Mom who grieved the most. The kitchen had so much damned room those months. I had loved our dogs too much to enter into dog ownership lightly. I knew that I couldn’t have a dog until my boys were tall enough to withstand the whirlwind on the stairs, and until I knew someone could be at home with him during the days. We pondered for about twenty years before we looked into golden retrievers and were surprised to find Chrys-haefen, once again. Oliver has been with us for six years and I can’t begin to tell you how many strangers have praised this dog. They always comment on his beauty and are always surprised that he’s not a pup. Leaving him intact as Jennifer had requested, has kept him in excellent physical condition. Oliver is my boy, but only marginally more so than our son, Peter’s. When Oliver turned a year, we bought him two kittens to keep him occupied, and they have succeeded in doing so. Though declawed early, one cat loves to swat him while he sleeps and eat his dog food while he watches from the other side of the patio door. The other cat wants to be his baby, often seeking affection under his chin, or trying to sneak into his crate with him, or finding comfort in his dog bed when he’s away. The sound of an elephant herd on the stairs at night no longer causes us to stir. We now know that everything will be in place in the morning and that once again, Oliver had just wanted to be part of the cats’ chase game. Oliver is six today and I am forty-nine. I just thought I’d tell you guys the role your dogs have played in my lifetime.