After four months of chemotherapy, with Barley in full remission and tolerating the drugs well, I decided we needed time off for good behavior. A trip was called for. Not a long one, as I didn’t want to be far from home if he ran into medical issues. And I was reluctant to camp for fear of Barley acquiring some loathsome tick-borne disease with his immune system not functioning at peak. As luck would have it, Backroads Magazine was sponsoring a multiple day ride that would spend a night in Lake Placid NY, less than a hundred miles to the west. Equally fortuitous, Tom and Kelly, our friends in Saranac Lake, wanted to see us again and offered to put us up for the night.
I took a Friday afternoon off and we set out for the shore of Lake Champlain, catching the ferry from Charlotte VT to Essex NY. I let Barley out of the sidecar the moment all vehicles were parked, and he was immediately surrounded by admirers. It was good to see him catch up on all the socialization he’d missed since his illness began!
Soon after the ferry docked on the New York side we were scooting across verdant farmland toward the humid Adirondacks to the west. It had been several months since we had enjoyed more than a short ride together, and Barley quickly settled in, his nose working the scents, his eyes studying the terrain ahead of us.
There was just a short stretch of road construction in Keene NY just past the ADK Cafe (where we simply MUST stop someday!). We passed through the town of Lake Placid, stopping briefly on the far side to share an ice cream, then pressed north on 86, west on 186, and south on 30 to Tom and Kelly’s home on the shore of Green Pond.
Tom and Kelly had adopted one of our rescue goldens years ago, and we had remained friends ever since. CJ, their adopted golden retriever, is now twelve and quite healthy for a dog of his age. He was overly curious about Barley, delighted to have a new playmate, but was too aggressive about it for Barley. After ignoring several clear warning signs, CJ tried to mount Barley and received several bites for his efforts. No real harm done, and the lesson was learned. By morning the two dogs would be playing together.
We caught up on events since our last meeting, and as the evening wore on Barley became increasingly vocal. He vocalizes with people he feels comfortable with, and it was clear that he was extremely comfortable with Kelly. She would fuss over him and he’d talk back with enthusiasm, telling her all about his life of adventures! We went for a brief walk, catching a glimpse of a loon on her nest before hordes of bloodthirsty mosquitoes drove us back inside.
We turned in, my dog and I, falling asleep to the haunting sound of loons on the lake. We awoke at 4am, spending the next hour and a half cuddling quietly lest we disturb our hosts. At half past five CJ was wimpering to be let out for a bio-break, so we rose and went outside. The air was cool and clean…until the mosquitoes found us and drove us all back inside! Barley immediately ran upstairs where I could hear him telling Tom and Kelly all about something he had found particularly exciting! Kelly’s laugh told me she was done sleeping. Showers, more talk over cups of steaming coffee, and then it was time to head back to Lake Placid for breakfast with Brian and Shira, editors of Backroads magazine. We had met briefly years before at the Missouri rally. Shira had been a fan of Barley’s ever since.
At that hour there was plenty of parking in the town of Lake Placid. I found a spot right in front of Generations, the restaurant where most of the Backroads tour riders were having breakfast. We were met by Shira, who led the way back to Brian. Barley lay on the outdoor deck next to my chair and behaved perfectly. I’d thought only Brian and Shira were aware of Barley’s illness, but as several motorcyclists came by to introduce themselves and share quiet moments with my dog, it was clear that most knew of his battle with cancer and wanted to meet my feisty fighter. It was good for him, a gift for both of us, and watching him interact with people it was clear to me that socialization was as much a part of his treatment plan as the chemo agents he takes every week.
As I said my goodbyes and quietly exited the restaurant, I learned that one does not simply slip away unobtrusively with a dog like Barley. I donned my gear and secured Barley in his sidecar, then turned around and found no fewer than twenty people holding cameras or smart phones to capture images of him! They were the Pupperazzi!