Exactly one year ago today, we met our badass goofball of a bird dog for the first time. We were very nervous. Some of our very best friends met us at O’Hare after our connecting flight to Peoria got delayed and drove us there in single digit temps and light snow swirling and drifting over the dark and largely vacant country highway. We crashed, exhausted, at a hotel and were up early the next morning to drive out to downtown Peoria to have breakfast at a local diner before heading out to the Dogwood farm to meet the litter of pups. We had months worth of reading under our belts about what to expect and do and prepare for, but it all suddenly felt inadequate and terribly thin and the pressure of picking out our constant companion from a litter of 11 pups felt overwhelming. We arrived and met Todd Parmenter for the first time in person, every bit as generous and accommodating as he had been in the several phone calls that helped us to decide without question that we wanted a Brittany pup bred by him.
Todd brought us into the barn and kennel area and we met the pups’ beautiful dam, Ruby, a liver Brittany with gorgeous ticking and exceptionally soft and sweet eyes. Todd then brought us over to the pups and let out the boys. One that I’d had my eye on trotted right up to us and ... pooped ... and in so doing probably bumped himself off the list (a reason as good as any and as dumb as any - they were all perfect pups). We handled them all and took note of how each played with us and our godkids. Lincoln, however, seemed to choose us. Over the course of our half hour meeting and playing with them, he kept approaching both Heather and me and we both noted to each other that he was very noticeably the softest and the warmest to our touch. He had also been one of my favorites in the list of six boys and Heather had guessed immediately that he was The One from the photos we’d by then memorized from a thousand viewings since they were born, as did one of her little three-year-old cousins at Thanksgiving. All the rest of our family and friends had their own favorites from the photos and all six boys were well-represented (we knew only that we wanted a boy and a middle of the pack order pup, being first-timers). But photos are one thing. Fate made her presence known instead through a soft warmth and an eager attraction to us and nothing could have felt more right or certain. A tangle of nerves driving through flat winter Illinois countryside and up the long farm driveway had given way to a peaceful certainty that we had found and met our boy. Our lives haven’t been the same since - nor ever before as joyful, fun, exilerating, triumphant, and occasionally stressful as this past year has been loving, training, caring for and being loved by this perfect and adorable little beast. Happy Gotcha Day, Lincs! No way can we imagine our life together as a family without you.