Guardians of the Mountain

Guardians of the Mountain

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“It’s too bad I didn’t bring my dog brush with me,” I said jokingly, my hands lovingly digging into Samson’s side. The dog was transfixed and slobbered me a bit. He sat down finally, right onto his brother’s front paws. Bailey didn’t seem to mind.

We were on the summit of Stowe Pinnacle and the view in front of us was gorgeous. Little did we know when we reached the summit that we’d be met by the guardians of the mountain, Samson and Bailey, and three other dogs.

There were three Labradors, black, brown and golden. I was pretty sure at first that Samson and Bailey were labs as well but I was wrong: they’re both majestic, shaved (except for the head) Golden Retrievers and what splendid dogs they are, too.

When we first saw them, sitting by a mother and her two children as they ate lunch and meditated on the dazzling view, we thought that the family was the dogs’ owner. “Can we give your dog some cheese?” Naomi asked.  “He’s not ours,” the mother answered. “They belong to someone on Pinnacle Road,” her son piped in. “It’s on his tag.”

Their addresses and names were in fact on their tags and soon, with the small groups and their dogs leaving the summit for us to enjoy alone, we had these stately dogs to ourselves. Samson was especially impressive, massive in fact, although it was all muscle. I enjoyed watching him as he sat looking over the cliff edge (and quite close to the summit’s rim at that) like mythical animal royalty. He reminded my wife of a lion looking over an African landscape. What was he thinking?

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A shaved Golden Retriever

He was enormous, and I wondered as I later stroked him whether he came every day with his brother to the top of the mountain. They obviously knew their way around the trail like the back of their, er, paws.

This was our second time to the region (North Central Vermont) in a month for a hike that we could enjoy at our level – moderate and no longer than three hours both ways. About half way through, the trail changed from “easy” to “moderate”, really a bit difficult but for not that long a distance.

When we got up from our gazing at Mt. Mansfield and the surrounding valley, the dogs bounded down ahead of us, but when they noticed more hikers going back up they changed direction and were no longer interested.

Obviously they knew that at the summit the hikers would take out their lunches. Could the trekkers resist the scrutiny of these beautiful dogs and not give them a few scraps, or more? Probably not.

As Samson and Bailey bounded back up the trail, they were probably banking on that fact; I looked at them with amazement and awe, these guardians of the mountain.

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