I can’t expect another Chipper.

I constantly have to remind myself that I’m not getting another golden retriever to replace Chipper. That wouldn’t be fair to the puppy. Chipper was an amazing dog, but in the two years he’s been gone, in my mind, he’s become the Perfect Dog. Gentle, smart, universally loved by all and especially by me. He may have chewed up my favorite shoe and he probably tracked gobs of mud into the house after a rain. And if I’m completely honest, sometimes his feathery golden hair would come out in chunks that rolled like tumble weeds across the kitchen floor. But those memories are a little cloudy and all I’m left with is the image of perfect sweetness.

What puppy can shoulder that kind of responsibility? Back to the decision to get an English Cream retriever with a different look that’s never expected to be a clone of you-know-who. We will start out with a clean slate—a new life with new challenges, new surprises and no unfair expectations.

Of course, the golden retriever breed has a strong, specific, unmistakable personality. So every now and then, without even trying, I know I’ll see glimpses of Chipper in the new puppy. And I’m sure it will make smile from ear to ear just as, at times, it will start the tears all over again.

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