Tuesday 21 April 2015

That time we drove 2,500km to get a puppy

As promised, here is the tale of our spontaneous roadtrip we embarked on last week. But before I get started on that, I have to give you a little background story:

Last August, our beloved girl Blue passed away. 

She had the wonderful ability to make every person feel special; everybody who met her would joyfully say: "Your dog really likes me!" And she did. She loved all people, and was loved by all in return. She followed Richard around wherever he went, always on his heel, sometimes even tripping him up because she was so close.  

After her passing, Rich really missed her, and he started searching the internet for another Blue Heeler. We found a few puppies advertised over the months, but never the right one. 
Until last Monday. I was sitting on the computer in my office, working away, when Rich called me excitedly into the living room: "Come here Miri, I think I found the right pup!" Now, this wasn't the first time he had said that, so I took my time wandering over to him. As I entered the room, he was already on the phone, talking to the owner: "So you have one female left? Can you send me a picture? Good, okay. I'll call back as soon as I have seen it." He hung up, turned to me and told me that there would be a picture arriving via text message any moment on my phone. A minute later, it did: One grainy shot of a puppy, with markings remarkably similar to Blue's.

We looked at it, then at each other. "What do you think?" I asked, already knowing the answer just by looking at the smile on his face. "That's her", Rich said. 
He called the owner back, told him that we would take her, and learnt that he wanted to sell the puppies as soon as possible - as in, now would be good, yesterday even better. I happened to have two more days off work ahead of me, so it was decided: we would leave very early the next day and go get our girl. 
Oh, did I mention where the puppies were located? Outside a little town called Milk River, AB - 1,250 km away. Mammoth road trip, here we come!  

While we did know the closest town, the owner was strangely sketchy when it came to his address; we asked repeatedly, but he kept saying that he would give us directions once we had arrived in Milk River. Curious, but there was nothing to do but take his word for it. 

Off we went, with a bag full of snacks, our winter coats (that had already been packed away), Lily as co-pilot and hope in our hearts. The drive was beautiful: gorgeous scenery, lots of wildlife along the way, tasty treats (sour candy, chocolate and fruit) and pleasant company. We drove 1,000 km the first day, which meant we would be in Milk River early the next morning. 

And so we were. Rolling in, I dialled our address-concealing puppy owner to get some directions. 
I should also mention that he had an accent that was difficult to understand - just to make the conversation more interesting.
"Hi, we are in Milk River now, in front of [the only] breakfast place! Where should we go?"
"Breakfast place? I don't know what you mean."
"It's right across from [the only] motel."
"No, doesn't ring a bell."
"It's on 8th Avenue?!"
He ignored this, and told me to drive to the hospital, he could direct us from there. Since the hospital was only 2 km away, this was easy to do - but how did he not know the surrounding area? I exchanged an exasperated glance with Rich and handed the phone over - I couldn't deal with this.

Rich took over: "Okay, we are in front of the hospital, where are we going next?" 
"So you are heading straight ahead, just keep going for a long time, maybe 20 km but I'm not sure exactly how long it is. Go until you see a green sign for Carson bridge and..."
"Sorry, what is the bridge called? Carlson?"
"Yes, Casson. You head East when you see the green sign - it's a green sign - on a gravel road, and once you are uphill you call me again, ok? I will be waiting in a red tractor."

O-kay. Strange, but we went ahead. After about 14 km we passed a green sign to Coffin bridge, but kept on driving. We drove and drove, for maybe another 10 km, until we hit a big intersection and realized that we must have gone too far - surely he would have mentioned the intersection?
After another, equally confusing phone call, it was determined that we had indeed gone too far, and that "Casson" meant Coffin (such was his accent). We went back and turned into the aforementioned gravel road, almost immediately heading uphill. Where was the red tractor?

There was no tractor to be seen, but instead there was a little farm - maybe that was the place? We drove in, and looked around - nobody was around, the place looked completely abandoned. This wild goose chase was getting old, fast. We speed-dialled the guy again. 
"We are up the hill and drove into a farm, but there is nobody around. Where are you?"
"You drove in? I don't see you."
"Well yes, we have the same problem. Are we at the wrong place?"
"Did you turn east on the gravel road? And go uphill?" 
"Yes, we did. How far do we have to go on the gravel road? We went less than 1 km. Where exactly are you?"
It went on like this for a while longer, but I spare you. In the end, we had to keep driving at least another 5 km on the blasted gravel road, head over the bridge (a fact he had completely forgotten to mention), do another few turns before we finally arrived at a big farm, smackdab in the middle of nowhere. 

There were fields, still brown and lifeless looking after the winter, there were mountains in the distance, and there was wind. Lots and lots of wind. And there he was, sitting in his red tractor as promised. Hallelujah, we had finally arrived! In person he seemed like a nice guy, personable and friendly. Without further ado, he led us to the sole reason for this trip: Nina.

Totally worth it, don't you think?

We handed over the money, he handed over the puppy, and after less than 5 minutes we found ourselves back in the truck, heading away from this strange place.  

We have been back now five days, and Nina is settling in perfectly. It was a fun trip, with the best souvenir ever!



  1. OH my goodness. That face is totally worth the drive!

  2. Cuteness overload!! She looks like she would fit right in into farmland life! So excited for you guys!!

  3. Thanks Isabel! She's a farm dog 100%, she actually doesn't like being in the house that much. We are beyond happy with her, she is spunky, loving and full of energy ❤

  4. I know , right? She's precious, we love her so much!

  5. What a strange person! That is a lot of crazy there but I agree it was totally worth it. She is just adorable!

  6. Melting my little heart! I am so jealous that you guys have the space for so many pups! Mark and I can't wait to get another!

  7. Do it, do it! One puppy is good, two is better! ;-)

  8. Yes, there are strange (or maybe just direction-challenged?) people in the world, that's for sure! But he raised a beautiful puppy, so it was totally worth it!

  9. Nina is adorable! Best Souvenir ever!

  10. Agreed! She has quite the personality, is happy as can be, and so loving! We couldn't have picked a better puppy.

  11. She is SO cute!!! What an adventure! I would have been totally sketched out to drive all that way and not have an exact location. She really is so pretty! We had a blue heeler/dingo mix when I was young, he was such a protective but sweet dog. As always wonderful pictures!

  12. Ahhhh, Nina is so precious!!! Definitely worth the trip and that horrible wild goose chase to find her. Oh my goodness - that guy is pretty hopeless with his directions! What does Lily think of her new little sister??

  13. We were mentally prepared for either not getting the puppy or something else going wrong. So overall, it went much better as expected: we did find the place in the end, the guy seemed nice (if somewhat strange) and we got Nina! She is such a joy, we love her to bits! Even though she is so high energy that it is quite exhausting at times haha

  14. They play for hours, but sometimes Lily gets fed up and wants to be left alone. I also feel that she is a bit jealous, whenever I play with Nina Lily tries to wedge herself in between us :-)

  15. That picture of Nina elicted an AWWW from me which had to be hurriedly covered up as I was sneaking 5 minutes of blog reading at work. She looks like a lovely pup. It's nice that she got to join your family and be part of an epic adventure at the same time.

  16. Absolutely, we are so happy she joined our family! We can't imagine life without her. The trip is one for the books, we won't forget that one for a long time haha!


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