I just finished reading “The Dog Went Over the Mountain, Travels with Albie: An American Journey,” by Peter Zheutlin, author of “Rescue Road.’
The book’s premise, which should appeal to just about any dog lover and those who like to travel or wish they could just hit the open road for a few weeks or more, is thus: The author takes his dog, Albie, on a six-week road trip across the U.S.
Zheutlin’s trip is inspired largely by John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley,” a book about Steinbeck’s own road trip with his dog, Charley. In fact, Zheutlin takes a very similar route that Steinbeck laid out in his book, only in reverse.
The whole trip is roughly 9,200 miles, as Zheutlin and his four-legged friend travel in a convertible from Massachusetts to California and back again.
I felt like I was along for the ride, as the author described the scenery and people he met along the way, mixing in various song lyrics and bits of historical information.
Zheutlin really concentrated on taking back roads and scenic routes instead of the fastest interstate highways throughout much of his trip. Thus, he was able to stop in many small towns to get a sense of the country and share it with readers. One even happened to be the very small town of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, which is where I went to college.
Albie, plays the part of spokesdog, well on the trip, often helping Zheutlin break the ice with others who come up to pet Albie or ask questions about him.
And, in one especially sweet moment in the book, the author describes Albie’s reaction to Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone:
“To my surprise he stopped, put his front paws on the stone wall and stared down at the falls. His nose twitched, his tail wagged and he seemed to be smiling. I squatted down and put my left arm around his ruff…As I did, my head was against his and for several minutes we remained like that watching the water tumble over the rocks and letting the fine mist settle over us. And I spoke to him as I might have to my sons when they were little. ‘Isn’t that beautiful, Albie? What do you think?’
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to others as a nice, relaxing and informative read. Maybe, at some point, I will have the freedom/time/money for my own cross country adventure with a dog or two by my side. For now, though, I kind of appreciated letting Zheutlin take the wheel.