The Daily Tromp


The old man struggles at the slow end of the leash as his 80 pound bulldog, Cochise, strains like a John Deere with a plow at the other; dragging them both up the steep, winding mountain path.

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The path was once a crude dirt road; just a common access for owners of property on the undeveloped, upper portion of the mountain. For several years an occasional 4-wheel drive pick-up would trek up the mountain to release hunting dogs, cut firewood to haul home, or just enjoy a few hours sitting in the woods soaking up the solitude.  Then, for a while only ATVs went up there to rip and snort along the path and tear new trails through virgin woods.  The old man was glad when the kids lost interest in their new toys and stopped coming.  Now, it had been a year or more since anyone went up the old road.  No maintenance had been done, not even the farmer who occasionally used his tractor to drag a scraper blade along to even out the humps and ruts and shear off the saplings. Now those saplings were crowding in from the shoulders and taking over again, trees had fallen, shattering branches all over and heavy rains were forming huge ruts and rills that made the road difficult for any vehicle to navigate faster than a creep.

Only he and Cochise – occasionally his wife and a foster dog would accompany them a short ways; just to where it got steep – where the only ones to go up there.  They managed to keep a path trampled down for a half mile or so up the main route and a few hundred feet along a branch road.

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By the time they got to the first switch-back the old man’s heart is pounding and his lungs heaving the crisp cold October air in and out of his lungs. The cold burn is invigorating.  The warm burn in the backs of his thighs feels good too. In years past he lifted weights to keep in shape and knew well the satisfaction of a good workout.  But then age and deteriorating connective tissue put a stop to such heavy work.

Cindy Murphy
10/31/2012 11:13:37 AM

Beautiful post, Allan. It's a beautiful thing you're doing fostering the rescue dogs too, and Cochise is a beautiful dog. Will you be keeping him, or fostering until he finds a good home? I have a friend who fosters dogs, and it's always bitter sweet when they leave. Enjoy your day....and watch out for those acorns.

Allan Douglas
10/30/2012 10:41:35 AM

Thanks Dave. Hurricane fringe will likely keep us off the trail today, but hopefully we'll be back at it tomorrow. And soon the time will change, making it light a little earlier in the morning - that will be nice too.I was starting to think I'd need to buy one of those hats with flashlights built into it!

10/30/2012 1:42:55 AM

Allan, great story about walking the dog but I just haven't figured out who the old man was. :0) It is amazing how strong a dog can pull on a leash, isn't it. It appears that you have made a friend for life. I think it's a great thing that you have decided to help with rescue dogs. There certainly is a need for it. Have a great walk your dog day.

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