Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Trails

When my friend Shane decided to move to Bermuda, his niece Gigi graciously took his small Shih Tzu puppy to her home in Pennsylvania. Cisco toughed out the harsh winters and made a friend out of the enormous black lab that already occupied the house. After three years of island life, Shane returned to South Carolina. He wanted his dog back and planned a road trip up North to retrieve Cisco. I was already in Pennsylvania visiting Gigi and Shane soon discovered this after postponing his trip several days in a row. On the final day of my visit, he asked if I would bring his dog back with me. I agreed even though I planned on making my way back South with a few days spent in the mountains of Virginia.

I packed up and left Pennsylvania, opting for the road less travelled as I made my way down a narrow highway leading into Gettysburg. I continued following back roads into Virginia and pulled over on a mountain country lane in order to hike a short trail to a lookout tower. It was June and leaving Cisco in the truck was not possible. At the lookout tower he refused to climb the rickety, rusty metal stairs and I had to carry him. I stayed in the tower to watch the sun set, but made my way down before it became dark as I had thoughts of bears in the back of my head. I pulled into a small motel that I had made a reservation with earlier in the week and realized that at the time I called, I was not expecting to have a dog. I wasn’t even sure if pets were allowed. I eyed the seven pound shaved Shih Tzu slumbering on the seat next to me and pondered my choices. I checked in the motel and returned to the truck for my luggage. I removed everything from my satchel and stuffed Cisco inside and zipped him up. I grabbed my suitcase and slung the now kicking satchel over my shoulder and quickly unlocked the room. Cisco was not happy. In fact, it was so easy sneaking the dog into my room, I repeated it a couple more times on my trip back to South Carolina!

On Interstate 81 there is a scenic mountain highway that I always wanted to take: The Blue Ridge Parkway. There is a fee since it is a national park and because the speed limit ranges between 10 and 30 miles per hour, it adds a lot of time onto the trip. I wanted to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail and was proud of myself for bringing appropriate footwear for the first time in my life. However, I was now saddled with Shane’s frou frou dog who really didn’t like me after being stuffed, albeit temporarily, inside luggage. I stopped at the gift shop and nature center for a trail map. A park ranger highlighted the trails that allowed dogs. There were two and I pulled into the parking lot of the closest one which promised a waterfall at the end. It would be a four hour roundtrip hike. I clipped Cisco’s Harley Davidson leash to his matching collar and hoped that he was just as tough as his fashionable motorcycle gear.

Partway down the trail I found a fallen hollowed-out tree and thought it would make a cute picture. I checked it for snakes and satisfied that it was safe, I stuffed Cisco inside for a photo shoot. He kept jumping out so I didn’t get many pictures. I continued down the path with Cisco in the lead. It was a fairly easy trail all the way down. There were no ups. Just downs. Then the trail ended at a stream, not a waterfall. I began to think that I read the map wrong, which was entirely possible since I was known for being directionally challenged. Then I saw the trail marker across the stream. Great…the stream was part of the trail. I bent down to pick up Cisco, however he was already frolicking in the chilly water. I stepped on the stones in the water and tugged Cisco through behind me. Now I had a dripping wet shaved Shih Tzu and I was really getting the strangest looks from other more seasoned hard-core hikers that were on the trail. I finally reached the overlook and the waterfall. Underwhelmed, I took a few pictures and began the long hike back up the trail. I finally noticed that the trip to the waterfall was completely downhill and the entire trip back would be up, up, up. I didn’t even have my own dog with me who was much bigger and loved to pull. Looking at the seven pound dog in front of me who didn’t even seem tired, I doubted his ability to help pull me up the trail and he kept looking back, giving me dirty stares when I would frequently stop for a break. I reached the truck before the sun set and headed out of the park. Each time I would stop for a break and attempt to walk Cisco, he would back away from me with a growl. Even now, although more than three years have passed, Cisco growls and barks when he sees me. Sometimes I wonder what he would do if a brought a piece of luggage over…

1 comment:

Monica Garvin Wells said...

cute! My dog is a Shih Tzu.