When your dog is reaching 10 years old, you start to think of all you’ve been through together.

With Ace, I have so many memories.

Like the time Josh and I took him on his first camping trip. In April. In Minnesota.

It was 2 degrees Fahrenheit that night in Itasca State Park, something close to a record low for that date. I’d only had my dog for three weeks and already he was sleeping in my sleeping bag. This wasn’t to spoil him but to keep him alive!

Ace and me camping in Itasca State Park

Or, not too long after, when Ace ran with me in a 5-mile race in Fargo. He was determined we were going to win that race!

And how he visited my Grandma in the nursing home, sat near her bed one night while (I realize now) I was really telling her goodbye.

He was with us on the shores of Lake Superior when Josh asked me to marry him. Later, he was at our wedding ceremony.

I’m not sure I can count all our camping, boating and hiking adventures in Minnesota, North Dakota and California. Or how many times he dove head first into any body of water.

Ace in Maplewood State Park

My black Lab mix Ace fetching a log

my black Lab mix Ace

My black Lab mix Ace at the ocean

We brought him into Canada, to Thunder Bay, and back.

He went tubing with me in Detroit Lakes and we lost his tennis ball. Another weekend, he swam for nearly two hours as my friends and I played frisbee in the lake. We could touch the bottom; he could not.

And not only these things, but my dog led me to start a business, a blog, to follow my passion for writing, dog training and dog rescue. He introduced me to dog agility. He’s helped me make and maintain friends I would never have even met otherwise (you know who you are).

He forces this introvert to leave her apartment! OK, the couch, even.

Thank you, Ace.

I’m so thankful for this dog.

My black Lab mix Ace and me