As she followed me down a slippery boulder field toward the shoreline of a small river, I could not help but marvel at how much Ada has grown up. She joined our family as a young puppy and has turned into a mature dog, roughly seventy pounds of happy, energetic German Shepherd.
I have known her most of her life and during this time she has become a loyal friend and companion to me. There is no equal to the exuberant joy she expresses when she first sees us in the morning. I wish I were able to show that much enthusiasm for the day, so shortly after waking up. During my childhood, we always had dogs in the family, but none of them were as affectionate as Ada is. Besides walks around the neighborhood and trips to the dog park, she enjoys resting in the office or downstairs around the entry way during the day. She responds to the door bell or seemingly suspicious noises and has made it her duty to caution strangers against unbidden entry.
But it is outside, in the mountains, lakes and streams of the beautiful pacific northwest that Ada comes alive like nowhere else. As soon as we begin getting our gear ready, she senses that a new adventure awaits. Her excitement grows, when we load up the car and once we are on the road, she will remain sitting (usually next to a pile of boots and a pack), staring intently out the back window. Once out on the trails, Ada truly is in her element.
Always eager to chase a stick or a ball or to just run and frolic about, she has learned that these outings can take all day and she can pace herself. Given the chance, she will happily go drinking from a mountain stream or swimming in a lake in the summer. During the winter months, she is overjoyed to discover (seemingly anew every time) the magic of snow and ice. Sometimes bounding ahead, exploring as we go, or following in our footsteps with tired determination, if we break trail in deep snow. No matter what, she brings endurance, strength and eagerness.
We share the struggle, joy and appreciation of the Cascades like we share water and food breaks. I would not ask for a better companion out there.
Happy Birthday Ada, my beautiful, furry friend! I hope you will have many, many chances to get dirty, soaked and tired all over those mountains in the coming year.