When Wally passed we knew we would get another dog eventually, we just didn’t think it would be less than two weeks after his passing but life had other plans. As we pulled out of Winchester Bay, Sangria, Leo, and Pickles were all distraught not fully understanding why we were leaving without Wally. It was heartbreaking on top of our already broken hearts that morning. By that afternoon, we realized Sangria’s grief would overwhelm her if we didn’t find a way to channel her grief. As we drove, I began looking at dog breeds that would meet our unique needs and requirements.
Pickles adds a complex set of requirements when adding a dog to the household. No dog breeds with strong hunting instincts, no breeds that aren’t easily trainable or highly possessive, no herding dogs, etc. You get the picture. We also knew we didn’t want a small dog, a breed that was excessively yappy, or giant breed. Our first choice was a rescue dog like Wally was but as we drove and I looked at all the surrounding states, there was no rescue dog that met our needs.
Low and behold, I discovered Fireball in Spearfish, SD where we were headed. The posted pictures of her and her sisters were shocking reminders of Wally. Their coloring, the crossed front paws, the look on their faces were all reminders of Wally and I felt guilty. We weren’t trying to replace Wally, he could never be replaced. But something in those pictures told us we needed to call and inquire about the puppies. We meet Fireball, her sire, and her then family on our first Saturday here in Spearfish. It was love at first sight, for us and Sangria. She is a purebred AKC Fox Red Labrador Retriever.
She came home the following Thursday, a red headed ball of needles and fur. She immediately lifted Sangria’s spirits and forced her to play and go on walks. No longer could she sit on the sofa and mop. Fireball, yes she’s named after the cinnamon whiskey but after all we couldn’t name her Cinnamon that’s a stripper name!, wouldn’t leave her big sister alone. Bounding, jumping, biting, and forcing her to play. It was the best thing we could have done for Sangria.
Fireball has adapted to RV life with no issues. By the second morning, she was bounding up and down stairs like they were nothing. She hasn’t violated quiet hours, she drags us and Sangria out on walks on a regular basis, she grown a lot in the month that we’ve had her, and she has gone on a 2 mile hike and didn’t once refuse to walk the trail.
The girls play constantly when Fireball is awake. She pounces and demands that Sangria be more active. She could care less about Pickles, and only on occasion does she chase Leo. She is smart as Wally was. Dave firmly believes that Fireball is Wally reincarnated and I believe that Wally is sending her tips and tricks from heaven. She is so like him, both as a puppy and an adult dog. Fireball has eased the grief in our souls.
She has gotten a taste of a late spring snow storm and of warm spring days. She reveals in being outside. As soon as the back doors are opened in the morning, she shoots outside and lays on the patio surveying her kingdom, much like Wally used to do in the backyard supervising the golfers. She barks when she believes people come to close to her family and growls when she decides it is necessary.
We’ve slowly been introducing her to rides in Lana. For a three month old puppy, she’s done extremely well. When she’s unsure she snuggles up close to Sangria for reassurance. We were scheduled to leave on Sunday this week for our next destination in Minnesota, a roughly nine hour drive. Those plans were made long before Fireball was in the picture. Nine hour ride is too long for a three month old puppy and so we are breaking the trip up into two days. Luckily, we have that option and think it will make it easier on all of us. The trip will undoubtedly take us longer that normal because we will be stopping more frequently but hey, that’s life.
She has grown a lot in the month. She has brought us joy. She was an unexpected gift when we needed it most. She is a female Wally while still being her own, unique person. She is exhausting and exasperating at times, but we can’t imagine life without her now. We miss Wally but know we made the right decision.
A special shout out and thank you with our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the lovely people here at Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort. They gave us an isolated spot when they knew about Wally and didn’t put anyone next to us our entire stay. They gave our family the space to grieve Wally and introduce Fireball to the family. If we didn’t already love staying here, this trip would have solidified our love of for this resort and the people that make it such an enjoyable place to stay,