May My Dog Days Never End

 

Stretching for 35 miles along the Middle Fork Willamette River, the Middle Fork Trail is great for mountain biking, hiking and offers plenty of spots for fishing. Photo by John Rezell

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our Summer Issue in shops on July 5 is our annual celebration of outdoor dogs.

By John Rezell, Editor, OutdoorsNW

I would love to be a dog.

Not just any dog, mind you.

I want to be my dog’s dog.

The concept of reincarnation intrigues me, and if I’m lucky enough to come back in my next life as my Ridgely’s dog, that would be heaven.

As I write this in my home office with a bright sunny spring Friday rising, my black lab Ridgely sleeps on the floor behind me, blocking the door so I can’t escape on an adventure without her.

She knows the weekend approaches. If she’s really anxious to get out, she’ll lie with her head against my chair, or paws over my feet – waiting for the slightest movement.

For the past 11 years, she has been on more adventures with me than anyone. She’s an incredible athlete who sticks with me on long hikes and bike rides, yet never loses her childlike curiosity and playfulness outdoors.

If there’s a downed tree along the trail, Ridgely will jump atop and tightrope on it like any kid in the woods.

If there’s a rocky ledge with an incredible view, Ridgely will dart out to the precipice.

If there’s a creek, river, pond or lake, Ridgely will make a beeline for it, then pause and look back for permission before plunging in.

We can be hanging out at a beach, just chillin’, and Ridgely will go out for a swim, circling around, enjoying the great outdoors.

Her passion for getting outside explodes into uncontrollable mayhem when I don my hiking shirt, or she hears any derivative of the words “hike” or “walk.” She howls up a storm.

Ridgely will sit in the back of the SUV for hours while I get everything ready for an adventure, just to make sure she isn’t left behind.

She gets caught up in the pure joy of the woods and darts around like a crazy pooch at 100 miles per hour.

She leads the way at times, yet drops back when I say, “Behind me.”

She waits patiently for a drink or snack when we stop.

At the end of an adventure, she smiles.

She nudges me with her head.

Her look says, “That was awesome.”

I always agree.

I’ve never looked at any human and thought I’d like to be him or her.

I look at Ridgely every day and think:

I’d love to be my dog’s dog.