Ajax     Todd, Seth and Erin have each been quite persistent in their drive to have another dog in the family to replace the one recently put down. ‘When have you ever been without a dog?’ Mom often reminds me as well. I still vividly see the lightning and feel the explosion on the mountain during the storm when Todd and I were scattering part of Wen’s ashes in a particular area not too long ago – not to mention the three days w/o electricity… How many times can one go through the wrenching death of a loyal companion? Yet, yielding at last, on Thursday Erin and I drove to the remote Jens exit, not quite an hour east of Missoula, and met a local Newfoundland breeder and small timber operator who lives almost off the grid (solar used and cell available). The breeder had one brown male and two black females remaining from a litter of eleven pups.
     Over the years, as friends and relatives know, we’ve owned many breeds including Siberians, Bouviers, Terriers, Setters, the occasional street urchin, and of course many Retrievers. The remarkable truth about dogs is that each one is unique. I recall as a child one of our Huskys pulling me down Scott Road in Charleston, W.Va, as I stood on a skateboard. He had a completely different temperament than the other Husky we owned which had a wilder streak, a longer coat and steely blue eyes. Both were obstinate and would not come when commanded to do so. Each of our Labradors had different personalities. One or two really took to the cold water, others preferred the mountains and fields. A few had soft dispositions, others were strong willed, hard headed and high octane. Dogs educate us. Dogs see and sense things that humans completely miss.

     At any rate, we settled on the chocolate male. Ajax, like all Newfoundland pups, looks like a brown bear cub. Newfoundlands are cold water oriented and have wonderful, obedient dispositions. A gentle breed with a storied history. One example among countless, in 1804 Meriwether Lewis had one, Seaman, in his boat during his journey through Montana and Oregon to the Pacific coast and back. We’ll have to see how Jax does in canoes. One shift in the wrong direction at the wrong time by a hundred pound dog could be interesting; but, unlike some Labs, Newfies are not high octane.

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