The Eradicator & His Sweet Thang

When our La Paloma neighbors and friends, Ken and Maureen Hake, invited us to spend two days with them at their remote cabin in North Central Nebraska, my wife, Helen, and I jumped at the opportunity. It was a part of the world we had never explored. And, Ken and Maureen are game people, our kind of people. But little did we know what a special treat this experience—spending time with Ken and Maureen in this very unique environment—would turn out to be.

The Hake’s three-year-old, well-designed 900 sq ft cabin is the perfect destination point for two couples who want to get lost in nature, play games and to get to know, to really get to know, each other better. The cabin is located in a pristine forest of ancient Ponderosa Pine on the edge of a fertile 260 ft canyon wall. While we couldn’t confirm it, Ken claims that a meandering stream teeming with native brown and rainbow trout awaits anyone who ventures a long slide down the steep canyon walls. The official mailbox is Long Pine, NE, but to access their forest home, one must drive ten miles on a dirt road north off Highway 20.

If you were blindfolded and airlifted into the cabin, it would be easy to believe that you were in the mountains of Colorado. It’s a very special place with a plethora of both whitetail and mule deer, giant turkeys, porcupines, blue birds, pine martins, rattlesnakes, bobcats and more. At night, the stars come to visit and put on a spectacular display of lights. The sunrises from our bedroom are what I would love to see when I wake up in the morning every day for the rest of my life.
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The Gold Award

Hannah says it’s for the Gold Award. I say it’s for the puppy. You decide.

I saw it first on a Facebook post by one of my granddaughters. “Hannah Claire Kelly is going to get a dog!!! :) SO HAPPY, life is good.” Could it be really be? I thought any chance of that was kyboshed many years ago. But as I read the FB comments to her post, I realized it wasn’t a done deal; at least not yet.

Hannah has been an avid girl scout for the last nine years. She also has a very special connection with dogs. If it had been up to her, there would have been a family dog for all of the fifteen years of her life. But after Mandy—a pet golden retriever who died when Hannah was seven—her parents said, “No more dogs.”

Hannah could have lived with that decision. That is until she read the story about a young lady who had trained a guide dog. It was the featured story in The Golden Link, a monthly magazine published by the Girl Scouts. The Texas teenager provided a foster home for a nine-week-old puppy; raising him until he was sixteen months old. During that time, she taught the dog 40+ commands and exposed him to many types of social situations. For this community service, she received The Gold Award—the highest honor you can receive as a Girl Scout.

Hannah had worked hard for her bronze and silver award. Now she knew how to get the gold. But the biggest hurdle to getting a dog (a golden retriever or a lab) would be her dad.
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