Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Cost of Celebrity? No Sunglasses for the Little Guy

Over the past two weeks I received emails from readers wondering just what did happen on the Pine Link Trail. Folks were kind to be concerned about us and I was inconsiderate in not posting a quick follow-up to my original post. Once again, I want to thank those who contacted me. But there’s one I wanted to address and I asked the author of it if I could publish it on the blog.

John Sobetzer was kind enough to give the go ahead. John hikes with his young miniature schnauzer, Pepper. They’ve already done the 48 4,000-footers together and they continue to hike, as you will see in his email.

We first met John and Pepper on the Southern Presidentials last year and we had a nice chat. Occasionally we touch base by email and I’m sure when our hiking schedule picks up in the late summer, there’s a good chance we’ll run into them again.

Unfortunately, as John points out, there are some out there who think Atticus is still blind. I’m not sure why this is as most have kept up with his trials and tribulations and the successful cataract surgery. Either way, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this rumor about Atticus so this is as good a time as any to repeat that the cataract surgery he had two years ago was very successful. He sees just fine now.

Perhaps it’s the price of celebrity. At least now I know when he hits the big time when ‘Following Atticus’ is published and we’re on tour, I’ll have to tell him he’s not allowed to wear sunglasses so many of today’s stars don. People wouldn’t think he was cool, they’d just think he was blind.

Hi Tom:

I'm waiting in suspense to hear what it was that was more than you and Atticus bargained for. Don't wait until the fall season to end the cliff hanger.

I say this because I got a huge scare while hiking the Hancocks last Saturday. I didn't run into anyone until I was hiking down from the last peak and then several groups in a row saw Pepper, and then asked me if I knew Atticus. I said I had the distinct honor or seeing him and you last year and we talked briefly about him. But the last guy looked at me and said he had hiked with you and then added when referring to Atticus: "You know he's blind. It's so sad."

Argh. I couldn't believe it. Not again. My heart sank.

I thought about your web page and feared that is what you were referring to. But then my mind started to work and I pressed him on when he had last seen you, hoping it had been prior to the time when Atticus had been so sick. As he tried to remember I cut in and said: "Is this something that just happened in the past couple of weeks or is it from a while ago?" He said the latter and a wave of relief came over

After we finished our discussion I gave Pepper some extra attention and the two of us bounded down the trail, suddenly happy once again.

Atticus' story touches all dog lovers and your web page shares it. But it is an ongoing adventure and these cliffhangers can be scary.

John Sobetzer & Pepper

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