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February 7, 2016

We drove seven hours to get him. It was 65 degrees and raining in North Carolina when we left home and it was 40 degrees with snow in Pennsylvania when we arrived at the heart of Amish Country. We saw the sun briefly while passing through Baltimore before watching it set over the rolling fields of Honey Brook as we turned into the long tree lined driveway of our destination. We witnessed the clustered traffic of the Interstate through Richmond fade into horse and buggies hypnotized by the rhythm of the hooves on pavement.

We tucked our phones into our pockets and stepped out of the vehicle greeted by a man with a warm smile and a wide brimmed hat motioning towards the Golden Retriever puppies jumping over each other in the small building behind him. We saw them through the windows and we made a point to focus on the mother once we entered, rubbing our hands through her amber colored fur and letting her lick our palms before being tackled by the puppies nipping at our heels.

We listened as he informed us of the breeding history of the dam and the sire while we were knuckle deep in fluffy fur of the wiggling puppies in our arms. They nibbled a wrinkle in my pants and rolled over my feet and we started looking at them closer, analyzing which one matched the picture we saw online that initiated this entire journey. He was the more mild of the four puppies left and the darker, too. He looked the most like the mother and he gently licked my finger when I picked him up, tucking his head into my shoulder with a fluffy ear falling over his eye.

He was the one.

On the way home, he whined from the backseat for a minute and we attempted to calm him from the crate he was in… driving seven hours back, we weren’t comfortable holding him the entire way and thought it best for his safety (and our sanity) to have him in a confined space. We bumped up the volume and Adele’s voice filled the car silencing him immediately. Various songs and artists played through the speakers over the hours and he only whined if we silenced the music so we started tossing around names.

Crosby, like Bing. Crosley, like the record player.

We agreed before we left that we would let Madison name him. She had no idea we were getting a dog even though she’d been asking for one for months since we lost Benson. She mentioned him almost daily and we realized she missed him just as much as we did and while this dog is in no way replacing him, he’s an addition we knew would be welcomed. We snuck away while her Papa and Nana tagged out mid-day and fourteen hours later, we were home and she was asleep in her bed. We washed him and dried him and held him most of the night and once the sun started peeking over the horizon, we dropped him in her bed and allowed him to wake her up.

She smiled before she opened her eyes and whispered a thank you as she cleared the morning from her throat. She sat up and brushed the hair from her face and reached for the fuzzy, golden ball of fur jumping through her sheets and over her pillows. We asked about a name almost immediately because the novelty of calling him puppy since picking him up was wearing thin quickly.

“Charlie,” she said.

We spent the morning in the floor with him before taking him for his first local vet visit. Madison was supportive through the entire appointment attempting to calm him when she felt he was nervous and encouraging him when he did something she found cute. It was nice to see her there for a positive appointment since the last time she was in the vet’s office was during Benson’s last days. I’ve said it before, but she’s such an amazing kid.

We’ve only had him for a few days at this point, but he feels like a good fit for us. Sure, they have to figure each other out and develop a relationship of their own but we wanted to get her a puppy during this season of her life. She’ll be turning five this summer and starting Kindergarten in the fall and we wanted them to grow up together because every childhood should have a dog running through the memories.

Madison and Charlie. I can't get enough of them.

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