We never really thought about bringing home an aussie. Gwen came to us from a friend who raised show aussies. She was a
"companion" dog meaning there was some reason she couldn't be shown. To us she was a champion in our hearts from day one.
Gwen quickly bonded to me. We didn't really plan it, but she became "my" dog almost overnight. When I got home from the evening, if Ali was outside with her, she would drop the leash knowing there was only one place for Gwen to go. She would immediately romp over to me with a big greeting. I usually call Ali on my ride home from the office. Over time, Gwen picked up on voice queues and would know when I was near home. I would drive in to the sight of her nose flicking the kitchen curtain so she could look out for me. She also learned to watch out for "the bag". The one which said I was leaving on a trip. If Ali's bag showed at the same time, we going to play in Pennsylvania. If it was just mine, her mood visibly declined as she knew I was headed off for one of my perpetual business trips.
Despite being my "baby", Gwen spent thirty percent of her life with us with Ali while I was on the road. Since she was a gentle walk in the woods, she was often the dog Ali walked when we were on the trail.
She joined us when Toli and Becky were still with us. At the time Toli was the younger dog and very active. We expected she and Gwen to have years together. Sometimes things don't work out that way as cancer claimed Toli in Gwen's early days.
Gwen and Toli on the Trail
It took me a long time to figure out how much Gwen and Becky bonded.
They had their own crates. They chose to be together.
Ali with Gwen and Becky at Akeley Swamp
For a happy, short while, they made quite a trio on the trail whether geocaching or just hiking.
It was even longer before I realized how close she was to Eva.
On the Dylan Trail... Spring 2009
When Eva passed, Gwen's grieving was profound. We watched with shock as she faded by the day. While we were still struggling with the loss of one dog, we knew it would soon be two if we couldn't find a companion for Gwen. She was missing Eva, but in our early attempts to find a companion she appeared to have no interest in bonding with another dog. Then we found Phineas and an amazing shelter worker who had them together within a few short minutes. It wasn't a perfect match, but Gwen accepted Phineas, and Phineas was happy to have a companion.
Gwen had her own way of eating. Every flip chip or piece of rawhide hung out the side of her mouth at some point resembling a cheap cigar. Each meal started standing and ended sprawled on the floor leisurely munching kibbles.
She loved corn on the cob.
She ate blueberries on the trail (picked them herself if we were not providing quickly enough)
She was always looking to Ali for treats on the trail.
She really loved ice cream.
In their early days together, we found canvas crates with zippered tops and lots of ventilation. We quickly learned this was an easy way for Eva to tear open her crate and crawl to the front of the Subaru where she would eagerly await our return. Gwen had the opposite reaction. She would ride with us on trips popping her head out to see the journey as we drove. Since I travel so often for business, I would follow Ali to PA or meet her there after a trip. I got to spend miles on the drive watching Gwen popping out and looking at the sights.
She loved to hike. She loved the snow. When she first went on the trail with us she was terrified of suspension bridges and boardwalks. Eventually, she overcame her fears.
Gwen liked to play,
but she knew how to relax.
She was a lady and understood the importance of fashion from hunting wear to hats to accessories.
I will miss you waking me at 4:30 each morning because you were an aussie and aussies are working dogs.
I will miss you running through the house behind me and shoving your head between my legs for a head rub.
I will miss the happy, happy welcomes home when my business trips were done.
I will miss those quiet nights in Pennsylvania where we both fell asleep on the floor after a fun day on the trail.
Like many aussies, Gwen was reluctant to have her head touched from the front. To help her through this I taught her to touch her nose to mine. She came to the door each morning as I was leaving and touched my nose. She would touch noses when she was waking me or when we were bending to retrieve a cache. I will miss this happy bonding.
The days together are amazing, but it never lessens the pain at the end... Bye-bye my little ducky. I will forever miss you Gwenabelle.