The Just Love Project 010: Ragnar – the Fearless, Hairy, Drunk Uncle, Viking Dog of Love

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“Aren’t you so glad you were wrong?”

 A loving family has many sounds. In the case of Jessica, her husband David, & their Aussiedoodle, Ragnar, that question is most certainly one of them. Today, Jessica & David couldn’t imagine living life without their furry, enigmatic Ragnar. But less than two years ago, that wasn’t exactly the case. For Jessica, it was love at first sight. David needed a little extra push.

“At first, he was not on board. And I was upset. We were driving when I brought it up, and I didn’t talk to him in the car for over an hour,” Jessica remembers.

That is until she broke the silence to add one more plea. “We could name him Ragnar,” she offered.

David’s ears perked. Self-proclaimed “Vikings at heart,” David & Jessica both share a love of the outdoors and the adventure it brings. Even as Chicago residents, their lives are filled with all the fishing, hiking, hunting, climbing, and tree-chopping they can get their hands on. So to David, the idea of a new canine companion with a name fit for a Viking king started to tell a different story.

Nearly two years later, the Hardins can’t imagine life without Ragnar. Particularly because it seemed Ragnar was cut from the same intrepid, enthusiastic cloth as his new human parents. And, in case that was ever in doubt, it was put to rest on a NYE trip up to a family cabin in Wisconsin.

Ragnar was just nine-months-old. Jessica, David, & the small group of friends they were with gathered atop a favorite landmark near the cabin – a boulder with room for a few. “You know, the kind you write moody diary entries on as a teenager,” says Jessica.

Young Ragnar thought he’d join. All was well until he “leapt from the thing like he was trying to fly.” Ragnar’s valiant attempt at going airborne confirmed what Jessica had intuitively believed to be true that day driving down I-94 in strategic silence.

“He’s just like us.”

It takes not much more than a friendly first impression of Jessica & David to confirm that – yes, that’s absolutely true.

Ragnar @ Doggie Paddle Aquatic Center, fresh off one of his many gravity-defying displays of Viking spirit

“I call David the mayor because he loves everyone and blows sunshine out of his butt,” Jessica says without batting an eye.

Ragnar’s sometimes known as ‘Ragnar the Drunk Uncle’ because he’s a lot loved, a little crazy, and always makes his presence known. “And because he too blows sunshine out of his butt.”

The three of them more than resemble each other. To those that know them best, they’re family in every sense of the word. Did Ragnar learn his sense of vigor from his parents? Or, was that always his nature and his sense of adventure had only further pulled it out of David & Jessica.

Which direction that influence travels seems fuzzy. And not important. But when it comes to the little moments that make a happy family, there’s one lesson Jessica knows she learned from her beloved hairy Drunk Uncle Viking dog. It’s one that dogs seem to do best: the welcome home greeting.

“No matter what he’s doing, he’s always so happy to see me when I walk in the door,” Jessica says, “I quickly learned how good it feels to be greeted that way.”

Now when David comes home, Jessica does as Ragnar does – an immediate hug, kiss, and warm reminder to her husband of the company he’s returned to.   

“My dog taught me something about love that I had never thought about before.”

Because whether it’s the sound of a playful, loving ‘I told ya so’ or the eager footsteps of your two favorite creatures coming to welcome you home, the best sounds are the ones we can’t wait to hear over and over.  

Jessica, David, & Ragnar’s story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans & their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at – we’d love to hear from you!