Leonard: The Early Days

by Jessie Dunn-Gilbert


My mother and I were on our annual Mother's Day trip. We had planned to drive through Sequoia National Park on our way down to the Kern River, but due to a series of unplanned events we ended up staying at the Kings Canyon Lodge, just outside of Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Mountains of California. We arrived at the lodge in the late afternoon, the day before Mother's Day, 1992. My mom went to check in and one of the men who works at the lodge took me over to show me our cabin. Suddenly, from around the corner three of the cutest puppies I had ever seen came running up to us. The minute I saw them I knew that my mom was in trouble–she was without a dog for the first time in many years. I remember saying "Wait until my mom sees these puppies."

2 months old

By the time mom stepped outside to join me I had focused on one of them. He was the only male and he seemed to be calmer than the other two. When mom saw them I remember hearing a strange groan come out of her. I think she knew right away that she was going to have another dog in her life. After we had settled into our cabin, we went back outside to play with the puppies. Mom reached down to pick up our favorite and he literally threw his arms around her neck. I had never seen anything like it. After a few minutes of holding him, she was a goner.

Jess & Leonard: first day home

By the next morning, Mother's Day, mom knew for sure that she wanted to keep the puppy. We canceled the rest of our trip so that we could take him straight home to her place. There was a period of tension though because the owner was not there and we were told that he might want to keep the male puppy. While we were waiting for the owner mom decided to name the puppy Leonard, after Leonard Peltier. The owner finally arrived and after some reluctance on his part, he agreed that we could take him. We were so happy and excited. We packed up the car and the puppy and headed home.

Mom has had several wonderful dogs in her life, but Leonard has been the sweetest, gentlest, and most devoted of them all. I think that his many fans would agree with me. I couldn't have planned a better Mother's Day present.

in the garden