I take a lot of pictures when I travel and my favorites usually turn out to be the ones with my dogs, Bowie and Dio. Without the dogs it’s just a pretty picture. But with them it’s a place I’ve been, a place I know and love. My dogs are the best travel partners anybody could wish for: They’ll go anywhere, at any time, with unflagging enthusiasm and endless curiosity. Traveling with Bowie and Dio has made me a more worldly person and I hope, a better traveler.
My traveling days really started the summer before my senior year of college when I adopted Bowie, a death row dog from a Pennsylvania shelter. At just over a year of age, Bowie had already been through three homes, exasperating each owner with his irrepressible hyperactivity and appetite for destruction. A friend who worked at the shelter, who knew I had a soft spot for border collies, convinced me to go see him. Of course, it was love at first sight.
Bowie wasn’t a bad dog. He was absolutely wired, but also exceedingly smart and unflappably good natured. Like many young, smart, active-breed dogs, he was in desperate need of hours of exercise a day. So we started going for a walk every morning, afternoon and evening.
In a matter of weeks we had canvassed every sidewalk in my city and I had discovered places and people and shops and spots I never knew existed. In no time Bowie and I were looking for new ground to cover so we started taking hiking trips every weekend. Day hikes quickly turned into weekend backpacking adventures and soon I was the lead trip organizer for my college’s Outdoors Club. Bowie was quickly made the mascot. The following summer, to celebrate graduation, Bowie and I hiked 100 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia and then hit the road, heading west.
Over the next three years, Bowie and I traveled to 48 states together (he missed out on Hawaii and we haven’t hit Alaska yet), then two years ago, while we were on a hike near Monument Valley in Arizona, Bowie found himself a protégé: a matted, skinny, half-wild desert puppy who immediately bonded with Bowie, followed us several miles back to the car and hopped right into the back seat. It was meant to be. Not only is Dio – short for D.O.G. – the spitting image of Bowie, he acts so much like him too that I often feel like I’m seeing double. In the past two years, Dio has come a long way from his rough start and he has seen more of this country than most people. He’s a lucky dog, but I’m the luckier: his energy and enthusiasm are keeping both Bowie and I young!