The 1,276-mile journey east to pick up my new puppy (already named Sally in my head) at Wildrum Kennels began on the morning of Thursday the 18th when Andrew and I pulled out of my driveway in Missoula, truck full of dog supplies and butterflies in my stomach. Andrew’s gracious offer to join me and help with the drive definitely made the whole trip way easier on me and allowed me to talk through my anxieties about picking “the right” pup, which, for the record, is something I had lost a fair amount of sleep over!
Thursday was a long day – 860 miles covered in just over ten hours – and we came across an annoying number of terrible drivers on the interstate. After an hour of handling a miscommunication with the hotel receptionist in Jamestown that evening, we headed to the Grizzly Grill for dinner and a much needed pint of Oktoberfest.
Having covered a ton of ground on Thursday, we were able to have a relaxed Friday morning and take our time driving the rest of the way to Ridgeland, WI. I can’t remember ever having time to kill on a road trip before! I drive so often that I’m solely focused on getting to the destination, so it was oddly refreshing to enjoy the scenery and not race the clock. Unfortunately, it also allowed me to replay my worries over and over again… Upon our arrival at the Wolfram house, I was a bundle of nerves.
Luckily, I already knew my way around the Wolfram’s place pretty well, so it didn’t take me long to fly downstairs with Ray and Jenna's daughter, Lola, to the whelping pen and gaze upon the Tasmanian Devil-esque mass of puppies kicking up cedar chips and making their voices very clearly heard. Each pup was ridiculously cute, but I quickly focused my attention on the two females, one of which would be coming home with me (if I could figure out how to choose). There was a moment of clarity in the subsequent minutes when the two girls were chasing each other outside the pen; the scruffier one tripped on herself, crash-landed into the basket of toys, and I thought to myself, “What are you doing, Sally?” And I knew.
Saturday and Sunday morning revolved around puppy questions, upcoming film projects, and hour after hour of getting to know Sally. Oh, and consuming enough food to feed an entire village! Jenna and Ray are no strangers to the kitchen and, like the last time I visited, I’m pretty sure I gained at least five pounds by the time this trip was over.
When noon rolled around on Sunday, Andrew, Sally and I said our goodbyes and began the 3.5-hour drive to Madison, WI, to rendezvous with my mom and great aunt, Marcia. As we pulled out of Ray’s driveway with Sally snuggled in my arms, the fact that I actually had a puppy hit me and I was slightly panicked. “What if she doesn’t like me?” After running inside at a gas station to grab a drink, Andrew laughed as I came back to the truck and said, “You don’t have anything to worry about. As soon as Sally saw you walk away, she started freaking out. She likes you.”
Sally was a huge hit with our extended family at Marcia’s house that evening. Aside from pulling the flower blossoms off of nearly every plant in the garden, she was very well behaved. She cried on and off, but generally seemed happy to be with us and slept through most of the night without a peep.
Thankfully, our two-day drive to Sun Valley from Madison was largely uneventful! Andrew drove every single mile, which worked for him because we covered more ground and it worked for my mom because she was able to get some work done and it definitely worked for me because I was able to play with Sally in the backseat. We laughed along to Paula Poundstone on “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me!” as the sun set in South Dakota, complained about windstorms in Eastern Montana, and listened to Madeleine Peyroux’s soothing voice across the Idaho sagebrush steppe.
The moment I’d been secretly worrying about arrived when we put the truck in park at my parents' house in Hailey. It was time to introduce Ginger to Sally. The last time we got a puppy (my sister’s dog, Cricket), Ginger completely ignored her for 10 days before finally deciding to accept her into the family and play. Sally immediately decided that Ginger was way too cool and made it her mission to be Ginger’s best friend. Ginger wasn’t too sure about this and gave me many long stares that seemed to mean, “I hate you. What have you done? Take it back.”
Two weeks later, I think Sally has now succeeded in her mission. Just this morning the two goofballs were tearing around the yard back in Missoula playing tug-of-war with Ginger’s coveted trout squeak toy, which, until now, she has never let any other dog touch. They catch bugs on the porch, romp down old logging roads, and take naps in the same bed together. I think Sally is going to keep Ginger feeling young, which is comforting.
So, for the time being, life with a puppy is awesome (I hope my amazingly patient housemate, Logan, doesn't disagree too much with that statement!). Sally is a full-time job, but one that I love. Every day she gets bigger and never ceases to make me laugh. I am so very excited for all of the adventures in our future.