Editor's note: This article has been revised to indicate Ripley's correct birthday.
Personality. That’s what Tiffany and Austin Lundberg wanted from the Bernese mountain pup who would start their family.
And there she was among the litter. Ripley. Unmistakable for the white on her fluffy toes, the freckle on her little nose, “the special twinkle in her eye,” Tiffany recalls.
It’s all a sweet memory now.
Ripley had cupcakes for her first birthday. Four months later, on June 29, she wasn’t pacing around the tent at sunrise as she had on previous camping trips.
Sometime in the middle of the night there on Independence Pass, she wandered out.
The Lundbergs hoofed for miles, calling for their girl. The next week, Austin burned all of his vacation time, hiking on, laying out her favorite treats, their clothes for her to smell.
Back home, Tiffany posted all over Facebook. She called shelters, sheriff’s offices. She made flyers.
No one had seen her. Which was strange, Tiffany thought. “Because she loves people.”
Yes, Ripley would sit on anyone’s lap, all 90 pounds of her. And that was fine, because people loved her, too.
Later, Tiffany got a strange call. About a man, an apparent hitchhiker. He was with a Bernese mountain dog.
Then she got more calls like this. More from Colorado Springs.
So the flyers have spread. And the Lundbergs have gotten calls, sightings. And they’ll rush through traffic, only to arrive with no Ripley in sight.
Sometimes they feel angry, other times sad. Sometimes they think they should just live their lives. Then they think they should be out searching, making another post, another call, another flyer.
Life just isn’t the same without Ripley.
People can relate. That’s why they call every day, strangers just checking in. Just to say they’re on the lookout. Just to say where they live, in case they can get to the next sighting quicker.
The Lundbergs would like a picture. Confirmation that she’s out there.
They’ll know by the white on her toes, the freckle on her nose, the twinkle in her eye.