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Happy anniversary!

It’s been nine years.

Almost a decade since this idiot hairbag came into my life.

And I say that with love.

On the May long weekend in 2004, I made the drive from Calgary to Carstairs to pick up a homeless dog. He was the abandoned child of a pending divorce, a marriage that wasn’t ending amicably.

He was stressed. I was nervous to be taking on the task of caring for another being.

I bought the wrong food. Or he was just so stubborn that he refused to eat.

It took us a while to bond. This is our first picture together, taken in Fall 2004, and I think you can see we were still learning to trust each other.

Shep the Maremma sheepdog and That Angela

Our first family picture

Two years later, I realized he was changing my lifestyle.

I wanted to do fun stuff with him, like explore and hike and see wonderful mountains and lakes.

So, I trade in my beautiful red Mustang and bought my truck.

This is his first time in the truck.

Maremma sheepdog in his truck

In my truck

The two of us, in our little truck, have traveled many miles together.

We’ve covered most of southern Alberta, seen a lot of B.C. and wound our way through Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Maremma sheepdog

At the Drumheller hoodoos

Maremma sheepdog at Koocanusa Lake

At Koocanusa Lake, Montana

Maremma sheepdog in autumn grass

At Big Hill Springs

In late 2010, we added a third member to the family. Our American is one of those shy guys who appreciates his privacy, so his name and face rarely show up on my social media profiles. Our little family made a cross-country trek last summer and Shep dipped his nose in the Atlantic Ocean.

He wasn’t a fan of salt water, growling at it every time he tried to take a big gulp. After a few times, though, he learned his lesson and just laid in the water, letting the waves run over him.

Shep and I make many trips to Spokane and now we’ve started to explore this area, getting to know its history, landmarks and scenery.

Maremma sheepdog on a highway

En route to Spokane … highly skilled driver, do not try this at home

Our little truck is soon due to roll past 200,000 kilometres (stay tuned for that sentimental post!) and Shep is heading into his twilight years.

Last week, he was assessed with Stage 2, possibly 3, arthritis in his hips. This is no shock when you have an extra large breed dog who’s 10 years old. It adds some stress and some worry … and some expensive medication to keep him moving and happy.

But if he’s ready to move on from this lifetime, I sure don’t see it in his eyes.

Besides, we haven’t seen Oregon or the Pacific Ocean together.

Is that trip in our near future? Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, we’re spending the U.S. Memorial Day weekend at a campground in Idaho. Hopefully, we’ll have lots of cool pictures to share next week.