King of the Hill

Every kid’s dream is to go to bed on a cold winter night and wake up to hear that they have a snow day. When I was younger and growing up in Connecticut, my brothers and I would stay outside in the yard all day to play in the snow no matter how cold it was. At the age of 12 my favorite thing to do was to go sledding down our neighbor’s, the Kirchoffs, big hill on the front yard. The neighbors’ kids were older so they didn’t come out to join us, but their dog, Hunter, always did.

Hunter was a big furry golden retriever and the nicest dog I had ever met. The Kirchoffs got Hunter when we were very young, but we all became attached to him as if he was our own dog. He would let us hang all over him, hold him, sleep with him and go anywhere we went with a big smile.

Hunter loved the snow almost as much as we did. He would roll in it all day and return home soaked in melted ice. His favorite thing to do was to watch us go sledding. The second we would get to the top of the hill he would be there waiting to watch us sled down so he could run after us. He was very protective, watching us go down the hill fast made him on high alert. He always ran down after to make sure we were okay. One ride down I decided to “play dead” when I got to the bottom to see how Hunter would react if I didn’t get back up. I sled down to the bottom of the hill, flung my arms over my head and closed my eyes. I immediately heard the sound of his collar jingling and the crunch of the snow from his paws racing towards me. When Hunter reached me at the bottom I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him panting and frantically moving around. His panting was growing closer when I felt a tug on the sled and my body began to move. I peaked open my eyes to see that Hunter had grabbed a handle of the sled with his mouth and was trying to drag me back up the hill. At the time I probably weighed close to 95 pounds, but being that he was such a big dog he was able to pull me up the hill fast. I felt bad that he was nervous I had gotten hurt, but also couldn’t help smiling at how concerned he was.

When we got close to the top I opened my eyes and quickly jumped out of the sled to show him I was okay. He was so happy to see me awake that he jumped on top of me and started to whimper. I couldn’t get him to sit still in my lap for a while after because he was so overcome with happiness.

Hunter was such a loving, caring and patient dog. He treated everyone as if they were his owner and there wasn’t a time that he couldn’t make you feel like you were his favorite.

This fond memory came back to me this week because one of my internship assignments is to contribute to the National Dog Show blog, “Learn From Your Dog.” I’m working on the “National Dog Show Presented By Purina,” the Thanksgiving Day two hour special on NBC that annually attracts a total audience of over 20 million viewers. It was so much fun to remember Hunter and retell this experience in detail. I’ll be thinking about Hunter when I watch the National Dog Show again this coming November.

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