It’s been eight years since Samson was a stray in Hocking Hills State Park, and in that time he’s made two cross-country road trips and lived in four different apartments on two different coasts. At some point in the past year I was struck by this idea that we would take Sam back to his old stomping grounds for a visit. A dog homecoming. Would he recognize it? Would he care? Was I being really super weird?
The answer to all three was, maybe. But the idea wouldn’t shake. I cautiously rolled it out to a few friends and family members, presenting it as a half joke. Only it seemed to resonate with people. The notion of returning home after a long life adventure is such a powerful storyline that I think we can’t help but be moved by it…even for a dog. Soon we began planning a week’s vacation in Ohio that included a couple nights of camping in the park.
So….how did my old dog like it? I will say that I haven’t seen him acting so puppyish in a long time. There are days where he looks pretty stiff walking up the apartment stairs, but in Hocking Hills he was scampering up and down rocks and scouting out every cave and holler. He ate s’mores, growled at a raccoon outside our tent, and wooed the little girl in the neighboring campsite into giving him some of her breakfast. ”He seems so happy,” my mom said. I think he was.
We were too! Even with the drought as bad as it is – all the falls were dried up – Hocking Hills is a beautiful place. I was happy that Read got to see it.
Read took this picture of me and Sam and afterwards laughed, It looks like you’re having a conversation. Hmm yes well in fact we are! I am asking him if he liked his trip and what reflections he might be having about adventure, returning home, and growing old. And bacon, of course. Always bacon.