Tom Ryan talks about his hikes through the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his miniature schnauzer, Atticus M. Finch. The dog knows to follow the trail, trots ahead of Ryan and will stop and give a nudge when he wants to be picked up. And when they reach the summit, Atticus likes nothing better than to stare out at the view.
Ryan is a single 40-something man who owns and writes a bi-weekly newspaper in Newburyport, Mass., when he adopts an old dog that had been passed along from several homes.
He found, to his surprise, that he liked the companionship and attachment to another creature. When Max died just 18 months later, Ryan went looking for another miniature schnauzer. So arrived Atticus from a breeder in Louisiana.
This was a different dog. He and Ryan were almost instantly a pair. And when Ryan took to vacationing in the country, he noticed how Atticus seemed a happier pup. He too, felt better out in nature.
A hike with Ryan’s brothers followed, and soon, after a dear friend died of cancer, Ryan decided to hike all 48 of the White Mountains over 4,000 feet in memory of his friend and others who had cancer.
He and his hiking dog became famous. But that’s not why Ryan was hiking.
He lost his mother when he was just 7 and endured a childhood with eight older siblings and a very angry and at times abusive father. Now as he slowly re-established contact with his father, he realized that his father’s dreams of hiking the mountains would live on in his own adventures with Atticus.
This is not just a book about a hiking dog. It is a story of family, of love, of faith and courage.
I recommend it highly.