The Journey to Keene


I've been attending dog shows with my friend Joan almost since I first met her, and my favorite dog show each year is the one that takes place in Keene, NH. It is a one-day show, low key. it takes place in a wooded area. Even among the professional handlers I feel no pressure there -- like maybe I have a chance. I got the first points I ever earned on a dog at Keene, Joan's dog Lumpi. And, today my pug, Alfie, showed well there. The best she has done to date. The judge noticed her, gave her time and even considered putting us up for reserve. We didn't make that, but you could tell we were considered and that made me feel great.

I also love Keene for the journey. After the show, Joan, our other friend, Jane, and I usually take a scenic route home. We find an out-of-the way diner or restaurant that we've never tried before and order a big breakfast. We often go back through Chester, stop at the Vermont Country Store and at our friends' inn, The Williams River House. The innkeepers, Geoff and Mark, own two of Joan's dogs, Buzz and Dudley, a.k.a., The Big Mamoo. Mamoo was the name we gave him before he went to live with Mark and Geoff. For a while, I kept Mamoo before it was time for him to go to his new home and when that time came I didn't want him to leave. I asked Joan if I could have him and I asked Mark if he would mind considering adopting another of Joan's pugs, but it was too late the deal was done. So, I brought him to his new home in Chester and for a while we would pick him up  each year and show him until he became too old. I even took him to Pug Nationals in San Antonio, Texas.

So our trip to Keene is also a chance to reconnect with this wonderful dog. Today, we stopped and showed Geoff and Mark Joan's new puppies. It had been a while since Mamoo last saw me and I am not sure if he remembered me this time. He was Dudley now and seemed happy nosing around the lawn with his buddy Buzz. When I went to the door, the two stared at me through the screen. They had both grown so big. We realized Mamoo was 10 years old.

When I had to give him up I thought maybe something good would come of it. In the checks and balances of the universe, I would surely be compensated for his loss. I'm not sure that happened exactly, but we've moved on. I'm getting a new dog soon.

We didn't stay long before getting back on the road. We always take the scenic route, going past Echo Lake in Ludlow, on through Bridgewater Corners, Woodstock, Silver Lake in Barnard. Joan and Jane will often stop at my house and rest for a bit. Today, we filled a baby pool for the dogs and sat inside with the fans on us until the power went out. We ate subs ordered at the local convenience store and played with my six-month-old niece, who giggled at the puppies. We talked about Alfie's big day.

Next year we will go to Keene again. I love the trip -- all the ins and outs and scenic byways. I love the promise and the potential; the possibility that something big may happen, the revelation that nothing has to. As in life, the journey is enough.