It was Spring and my husband and I were out for a drive. We were going somewhere important, I’m sure, just cruising down the rural highway near our home. That’s when we saw it, the sign on the side of the road that read, “Free Golden Retriever.” We both saw it at the same time because at that moment we turned to each other and said, ‘did you see that?’ In my mind I was thinking, ‘keep driving, we already have 3 dogs at home!’ But no sooner did that thought pass through my mind than my husband was doing a u-turn to return to the place where that sign was sitting on the side of the road. We pulled into the gravel driveway and jumped out of our truck. A man approached us, followed by a very stout bulldog…no truer case could be made for a dog looking like it’s owner than this. We inquired about the “free” dog and he told us it belonged to his father who lived just up the road in a little town we had driven through only a 1/2 mile back. He said he’d call his father and tell him we were on our way to see the dog. We headed back toward the little town and found the address. Once more, we pulled in and jumped out of the truck. This time we were approached by an older man and his wife. After a brief introduction, he led us back to a pen where there was a Jack Russell Terrier jumping vertically at least 4 feet in the air and there was the Golden Retriever. He jumped up on the fence surrounding his pen, drool was everywhere and he was unkempt. The man let the dog out of his pen and the dog, all 100 pounds of him, immediately jumped up on us. He was so gentle and so big! His name was “Hunter.” I told my husband I needed to sleep on it, knowing full well, he’d already taken mental ownership of this dog. We had the room for him at home with a fenced in backyard and acreage to spare, but I still was not convinced I could handle all that dog. The next day we returned for Hunter. I could tell this wasn’t easy for his current owner, but he told us he knew we were the right ones to take his dog because we didn’t react with anything but affection when the dog jumped up on us the day before. He gave us all of the dog’s vet records and told us Hunter’s likes and dislikes and he made one request. Would it be alright if he could visit the dog once in a while? Of course, we agreed. We took this awkward dog home with us and with plenty of love and discipline, he soon became a part of our family. The first visit from Hunter’s previous owner came a few months later. Hunter jumped up on the man and they were old friends once again. The man wanted to make sure his dog was in good hands. He then told us he was ill and that was one of the reasons he had to let the dog go. He had lung cancer. He told us he was having surgery, followed by treatments. We were very thankful we had Hunter, especially now. About a year went by, it was the following Fall…we had grown more in love with this lumbering dog and couldn’t imagine our lives without him. I was outside, it was a beautiful day, when that familiar pick up truck rumbled down the driveway–it was Hunter’s previous owner. This time, the man looked a little more frail, but Hunter didn’t care, he jumped right up and wrapped his paws around the man’s waist as if to hug him. The man told us he’d had his surgery, but the cancer was back and he was to have more treatments. He spent quite a while outside with us and Hunter, until finally, he turned to go. We wished him well and told him to stop by anytime. About a month later, my husband stopped by the small convenience store in the little town where we found Hunter. The lady who owns the store told my husband that Hunter’s previous owner had passed away. When my husband returned home and told me the news, we knew the reason for the man’s last visit was to say goodbye to Hunter. We had no idea that our innocent drive to ‘somewhere important’ would lead us on such a journey with such an amazing dog. One man’s best friend–one family’s best friend. Hunter.