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Growing up in seven states, I have done my fair share of traveling and exploring. As a kid, I remember my parents taking us kids hiking and camping, and have always loved those memories and adventures. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started adventuring on my own. I lived in Northern Virginia at the time, and there aren’t many hikes in that area. However, I made the most of it, and frequently hiked at Great Falls National Park. In 2006-2008, when I lived in Northern Virginia, Great Falls NP had a total of 7 miles. So, after school or on weekends I would go out by myself and hike all 7 miles. I found some other small, local “hikes” (more of a walking path) that I would do, but I tended to get bored doing those.
It wasn’t until I moved to Montana in 2008, that I really got into the outdoors. Let me tell you – the hiking in Montana was amazing! The mountains, the fresh air, the Montana “Big Sky”, clean air, tons of trails – it had it all! I had transferred from a community college in VA to Montana State University, and started classes in the Fall of 2008. I had lived in an all girls dorm, and was excited to finally have girlfriends say they were all into hiking. I thought, “Perfect! I will finally have some company on my adventures.”
It didn’t quite work that way….I always made sure I got my homework and reports done during the week, so that I could explore on the weekends. I quickly found out that most people don’t operate that way, and was back to square one and hiking alone. This time for up to 14 miles in one day. I really wanted company, but since I was also new to the area, didn’t have any other people to ask to come along. It wasn’t until after I had graduated, and lived in a town home, that I had an idea. “What would be better company than a dog?!” Sure, a dog couldn’t talk with me, but I loved the idea of having a buddy to tag along, to share my adventures with, to train to be an outdoors dog, to protect me from wildlife, and to snuggle up to at the end of the day.
The Story of how Charlie an I found each other
I found Charlie online, through a breeder that typically bred Miniature Golden Retrievers (yes, this actually exists), but we’re “trying out” a new breed for them, called a Golden Lab. This would be a mix of their full sized Golden Retriever and full sized Yellow Lab. I called the lady up, and said, “I’m really interested in getting one of the Golden Lab puppies – could I come out to get one?” Mind you, this breeder was about 3 hours from my house. I didn’t want to just show up and have them be all adopted. She said, “Actually, this is perfect timing, they are going on sale tomorrow – $100 off the asking price.” I thought, perfect, works for me! I told her, ok I’m coming out tomorrow.
So, the next day I drove out to their ranch in the middle of nowhere Montana. The lady pulled up in her old Ford pickup, and out popped her little boy holding two puppies – one under each arm. I immediately grabbed the first one I saw (Charlie), and thought, “Oh my…he is very cute, even tempered, and floppy!” I knew there was something in him that spoke to me. But…I figured I should set him down and watch the other pup just to be sure I really liked the first one. I watched both of the pups play, and immediately the other pup went over the lady and started chewing on her jeans at her ankle. I thought, “ok, nope, I definitely don’t want this dog. He’s going to chew up everything.”
(April 11, 2012 – the day I brought Charlie home, 8 weeks old.)
I said, “I’ll take this one,” pointing back to Charlie. I paid her, and they pulled away. I got back into my car and all of the sudden I started to freak out, saying to myself “oh my gosh, I have my OWN puppy! I have my own puppy! This is so exciting!”
(2012 – Charlie’s first camping trip at 14 weeks.)
For names, I had already narrowed it down to two names before I even saw the puppies. It would either be Charlie or Cody. I figured I should at least get the dog, then pick out the name depending on what I thought he looked like. After I calmed down a little, I said to the puppy, “Ok we need to pick out a name for you.”
“Cody?” No response. “Cody?” None again.
This time I got a look from him, and we locked eyes. I said, “Ok, that’s it! You’re a Charlie!” He definitely picked out his own name.
(2012 – On the Drinking Horse Trail in Bozeman, MT. Charlie was about 14 weeks old.)
As we drove home that day I said, “Charlie, I want you to know that you are going to be an outdoors dog. We are going to hike, camp, ski, and adventure together. You are going to learn to love the outdoors as much as me. I can’t wait to show you all the stuff the trails out there have to offer.”
(2012 – Pine Creek Lake in Montana before the big forest fire. Charlie was about 6 months here.)
(Charlie in 2013, 1 year old)
Almost 9 years later and now in Utah, Charlie & I are still exploring the great outdoors together.
(2015 on Ibapah Peak, the highest point in the Deep Creek Mountains)
(2015 In the Deep Creek Mountains)
(2015 on Mt. Nebo, the highest point in the Wasatch Mountains)
We love desert adventures too! Red Canyon – 2018
(Photo by Halie West Photography)
Charlie and I thank you for visiting our blog!