One of the great things about living in a community the size of Whistler is the unusual way you connect with people. Take my dog Cub, for example. Cub is a black Labrador retriever that I bought from a local breeder named Kelly. You may know Kelly either as a dog breeder or as a waitress at the RimRock for over a decade. Everyone seems to know Kelly.
Kelly's dog Marlee was a yellow Lab bitch (the literal not pejorative sense) that produced two litters before Kelly called it quits. Cub is from her second litter of eight identical black puppies. She has papers listing her kennel name, Cloudburst's Black Mischief that is a combination of her mother and father's line, and an ID tattooed on her tummy, MJY4C (not the real ID) that my kids (I recently discovered) use for login passwords on their computers. This is the English lab breed with shorter legs, a barrel chest and that broad and beautiful head, which is different from the leaner, more flighty American Labrador.
Three of Cub's littermates are owned by other Whistlerites and Kelly used to gather us together on the dogs' birthdays at the park to share stories and treats and let the dogs play. There was Hannah, Rowdy (no need for explanation), Cub, Leroy, Clyde and June (with remaining pups gone to distant owners.) We always tried to watch whether they nuzzled each other or their mom in any special way compared to other random dogs at the park, but never really saw a flinch of sibling recognition or remnant of maternal bonding.
On one such occasion Kelly gave me a photo of Cub's sister and brothers standing lined-up on their hind legs with their front paws all resting on the back hatch of her truck tailgate. It's adorable. All nine of them are looking at the camera and even if I wasn't told which one is Cub, I swear I could pick her out.
It reminded me of the first time I saw Kelly down at Rainbow Park. On that sunny summer day that she brought the puppies to the beach for a swim and some exercise with their mom. I used to run the windsurfing school at Rainbow Park and so spent my entire summer waist deep in water at the dog beach-slash-boat launch area teaching kids on tethers at the beach before sailing together out on the lake.
All eight puppies were rolling and playing at the dog beach, and without hesitation I offered to purchase one of the puppies. I preferred a female and Kelly pointed out the remaining available female - she'd managed to sell all the puppies to carefully screened owners. Kelly took as much care and attention raising the pups as she did matching them to good homes.