Our family loves Golden Retrievers and we have a long history with them. I grew up on a farm in the Midwest and I come from a long generation of farmers. When I grew up, we always had a dog. My first dog was a Black Lab named Pilot. Pilot was a great dog, but she died when I was young, so I don’t remember her, except in pictures. After her, we had several more dogs; all Golden Retrievers and all of them named Pilot! When our current dog would eventually pass away, we would always end up getting another dog (because what’s a farm without a farm dog?) My Dad loved the name Pilot; it just kind of stuck and one by one, we kept the name going! Pilot #1 (the black lab) passed away at an old age. Pilot #2 was our first Golden Retriever. However, she loved to get loose and chase cars. Unfortunately, she got hit by a car and passed away when she was about 4 (I was 7 years old). Pilot #3 (our second Golden) was my favorite dog. We got her when I was about 8 and had her until I was 19. She loved to eat rocks for some reason, but she was so sweet and loyal; we were buddies. We went everywhere together on the farm.
Fast forward 8 years… I’m 27 years old and now a farmer myself, living on the very same farm I grew up on and starting my own family. It’s 2007 and my new wife and I decide that we need a dog! So, we found a sweet Golden Retriever puppy and we named her… Pilot, of course! It’s kind of like a tradition, now; why break it? We got our Pilot #4 from a local breeder. My wife picked her out and little did we know that this would turn out to be the absolute sweetest Pilot of them all. She had a heart of gold. She was our baby. She was a beautiful dog and had a very graceful prance with her head held high. And she absolutely LOVED the farm! She loved the freedom to run around and explore. She loved to play with and chase the farm cats. She loved the all the excitement during Spring planting and Fall harvesting. She loved to run out into the field and grab an ear of corn to chew on. She loved going down the road to check out the creek or visit our neighbor’s dog. Pilot was also a thief! She loved to steal hats, work gloves, food, tools, anything at all! If you left it within her grasp, you might as well consider it gone! Most of all, she loved us. She loved my wife and I and she really loved our two boys. Pilot was so gentle with them when they were babies and loved racing them when they got bigger. Wherever the boys were, Pilot was not far behind. She and my boys were buddies just like I was with Pilot #3 when I was little. Sadly, Pilot passed away two years ago, right before Christmas, when she was only 7 years old. We lost her suddenly to cancer. We were devastated. She was a member of our family; even more so than any of the previous Pilot’s had been. We were hit hard by her loss.
Well, fast forward again to today. Our oldest son is 6 1/2 and our youngest just turned 5. Recently, they really started working on us about getting another dog. Pilot left behind an empty hole in our hearts that has been very difficult for us to replace. We just haven’t been ready to think about another dog, yet. No other dog can even come close to taking her place. But, we were contacted by a family friend who’s neighbor’s dog had puppies and needed to find a home for 3 of them. We asked what breed of dog the puppies were. Our family friend replied, “They’re Golden Retrievers”. Well, we decided that it was fate and decided to visit the puppies. Our boys fell in love with one of the puppies in particular. It was a girl pup who kept wagging her tail and licking the boys’ hands. The other puppies would eventually find interest in something else and get distracted, but this puppy kept her attention on the boys the whole time. We decided that our new puppy has chosen us this time. We asked the boys what they wanted to name her and they both replied in unison, “Pilot”!! So, we are now on a new adventure with Pilot #5.