In and around C’Ville: Gap View Ranch and Kennel

Exploring with golden retrievers

Okay friends, this is a good one.

In a far off land, about one hour and 20 minutes away, in a mysterious town – Broadway, Va. – there sits the most magical kingdom in all of Virginia — the puppy farm.

For just a $5 donation to the operations of the farm, you and your friends can go hang out with a bunch of golden retrievers for as long as you want. No, I did not hallucinate. Yes, this place exists.

My boyfriend Nick, visiting all the way from Georgia Tech, didn’t believe me when I explained it to him.

“They just let you play with a ton of puppies for as long as you want?” he asked. I knew I had to show him the light — or more appropriately, the gold.

We called ahead and set our appointment for 11:30 a.m. Friday, even though the forecast called for rain. Playing with a bunch of muddy puppies meant we needed clothes that could get smelly, dirty and hairy, so we made sure to plan accordingly.

The ride down was really beautiful — rolling highways in the heart of mountain country. The leaves had changed enough so that we saw a patchwork of oranges, reds, yellows and greens as we cruised along I-64 and I-81.

Just as the rain was stopping we arrived to a bunch of turkeys and expansive farmland. A woman came out to greet us, directing us to different areas of the property and introducing us to some of the older dogs. I’m a dog person through and through, and seeing their adorable smiling faces immediately lowered my stress level.

Then she led us to the back of the kennel, signed us in and introduced us to 16 newborn golden retriever puppies.

Let me break this down for you — 16. Golden retriever. Puppies.

And then she left us alone. With these puppies. For as long as we wanted.

We climbed in the first pen, being especially careful not to step on any of their tiny bodies, and they immediately attacked us. Luckily, they’re extremely small and not very strong so we would just pick up two or three at a time and they would fall asleep in our arms. They absolutely loved my hair and Nick’s shoelaces and would follow us wherever we went, crying when we left each pen.

We went to all three pens, making sure to get an adequate amount of kisses from each tiny pupper, letting them crawl on us, sneeze on us and sometimes even pee a little on us. I debated stuffing the littlest one in my raincoat, but Nick gently let me know that I could neither afford nor take care of such a small and needy animal.

We said sorrowful goodbyes, hung out with some of the older, calmer dogs and made our way home. It was such a great day.

I would like you to know that this place is real and everything I just wrote is true. Please take the time to go if you can, you won’t be sorry.

Next week, my mom and I will explore the legendary Skyline Drive. Stay tuned!

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