I’ve been listening to the audiobook of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America on my weekly drive between New Jersey and Connecticut. The book is a travelogue of Steinbeck’s 1960 road trip across America in his camper truck Rocinante, accompanied by his standard french poodle Charley.
In addition to the story line and great writing, what struck me most is Steinbeck’s enjoyment of sharing his experiences with Charley. It would not have been the same trip without him, even though traveling with a dog meant extra supplies, more bathroom breaks and a couple of unplanned visits to the vet.
Which brings me to our family’s new traveling companion. We recently adopted Keuka, a Boston Terrier – Jack Russell mix puppy from a shelter in Arkansas. While she’s relatively new to us, she’s been a quick study on potty training and basic obedience commands. Both of my daughters are working with her, a real treat for them.
How we got her was also an adventure. This past April, I woke up at 4 am on a Saturday, and, without the benefit of coffee, drove a few towns over to meet the puppy transport en route from the shelter where we adopted her. I stood in the darkness of a hotel parking lot with a few other adoptive families, waiting for the transport. A nice dual-axle diesel truck pulled up, towing what looked like a large temperature-controlled horse trailer, maybe a portable vet clinic. After giving some of the other families their puppies, the driver came out with Keuka and handed her to me along with her folder of vet records. At that point she was about 8 weeks old.
I held her for a few minutes and waited for her to stop shivering, then placed her in the soft sided carrier for the ride home. As luck would have it, the zipper to the carrier was not secure and she broke free right as I was turning on to the entrance ramp of I-80. I quickly scooped her up and held her like a football in one arm until I got home. During the trip she remained still, looking out the driver’s side window at the lights from the passing cars.
As I pulled into the garage I noted that it was one of the rare times I saw my wife up at 6 am. She was waiting at the door to the house and ran down the steps to hold the puppy. My kids soon appeared and we all ended up in the backyard playing with Keuka well before 7 am. As luck would have it, it was also my daughter’s birthday, so Keuka was “socialized” for much of the day by a number of 7-year old girls and their mothers.
Keuka is named for Keuka Lake, one of New York State’s Finger Lakes, where my wife spent a few summers during her childhood. We’ve returned there a couple of times for family vacations of our own and hope to do so next year.
I wouldn’t describe Keuka as a water dog. Whenever we put her in the pool she immediately heads for the steps, climbs out and curls up on one of the patio chairs. That said, I could see her as a fishing companion for canoe trips, and possibly some pond and lake fishing. Enjoy!