Thursday, May 10, 2012

Added to the TBR Mountain: Following Atticus


“In the mountains Atticus became more of what he’d always been, and I became less—less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow.”

Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home. . . .

At the heart of this remarkable journey is an extraordinary relationship that blurs the line between man and dog, an indelible bond that began when Tom, following the advice of Atticus’s breeder, carried the pup wherever he went for the first month of their life together. Following Atticusis ultimately a story of transformation: how a five-pound puppy pierced the heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman, opening his eyes to the world’s beauty and its possibilities. It was a change that led to a new life among the mountains; an unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family; and an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self.
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I haven't read this book yet, but I have heard many good things about it, and I follow Tom Ryan's Atticus blog. This week he adopted a second schnauzer, William, 15 years old, mostly deaf, mostly blind, who had been left at a kill shelter in New Jersey. I just read the blog post he wrote about how in spite of people telling him he was crazy, inviting heartache, he's taking this precious four-legged angel into his home to live out his days with love. I've taken older animals into my home. Sam was around 10 when I rescued him from a neglectful neighbor. We only had a few years together before I lost him to kidney disease. Sashi was 9 when I adopted her; we had 7 years together. Tara was approximately 7 when I adopted her 5 years ago.

It's not easy taking in an animal that you know you're not going to have as long with as you hope to. You lose your heart to them and then they break it. But older rescue animals know you have saved them, and they love you all the more for it. They have all been dealt a lousy hand and deserve a second chance. And all you can do is appreciate the time you do have together all the more. 

Please read William's story, and if you're in the market for a pet, consider a middle-aged or senior pet. You will never find a more loving and loyal friend.

A Knock on the Door

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