Hiking and life lessons from an aging dog friend – Adirondack Explorer

Approaching middle age, Abe faces the wind atop Buck Mountain in Lake George. Photos courtesy of Judy and Jack Rightmyer

By Jack Rightmyer

When Abe came into our life in September 2009, Judy and I were still grieving the sudden death of our dog Wyatt six months earlier. “I’m not so sure I want a dog yet,” I said to my wife. I reluctantly went along with her to meet some new pups that had just arrived from Georgia and were up for adoption. When Judy picked up the 10-week-old Great Pyrenees-golden retriever named Abe, we immediately fell for him, especially when he cuddled softly into Judy’s neck.

Abe was an adorably cute puppy. From the start, he had the temperament of a therapy dog, friendly to everyone he met and loving each dog he encountered. Judy and I have real passion for the outdoors, biking, hiking, cross-country skiing and spending weekends at our camp on Loon Lake in Chestertown. All Abe wanted to do was to be outside with us. 

Together the three of us hiked High Peaks, went on long adventures into the Pharaoh Mountain Wilderness and explored the Adirondacks. 

On our relaxing summer days at camp, Abe loved jumping off our dock far out into the lake to retrieve a thrown stick. He would do that for hours if we let him. 

A young Abe and two friends jump from a dock on Loon Lake in Chestertown. Photo by Gail Holstein Danforth

A great thing about hiking with a dog is how they let strangers start a conversation. “What kind of dog is that?” “What’s his name?” “How old is he?” “Can I give him a treat?” 

One of his favorite trips was our yearly cross-country ski into the Santanoni Great Camp. Abe would get so happy in the snow he would often just run around in circles beaming with an enormous smile. “He’s doing a zoomy,” my granddaughter Maggie would scream with joy.

It was a March 2019 ski into Santanoni when we first noticed Abe was showing his age. He had no problem making it to the camp, but he was laboring the last two miles. “It’s probably because we’re skiing and he needs to run …….

Source: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/aging-dog

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