The howl of a hound dog, the persistent moo of a cow, a hound dog howling at a mooing cow. No matter where we camped or parked, these were the sounds we would wake up to while in Kentucky. To add to the mystery, we never saw these morning prowlers, we only heard them.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love dogs. I love dogs the way most women love babies. I feel a need to pet everyone I meet, and I coo at them like a babbling idiot. I’m OK with this. When travelling in Central American cities, I have had to suppress this impulse if I wanted to get anywhere, and if I wanted clean hands. Ever. A blog about my travels to the southeastern U.S. would not be complete without paying homage to my canine friends.

On the road to Muir Valley, we regularly saw one dog that slept partly on the lawn, with his head just over the white line on the road. Others would roam what appeared to be generous interpretation of their property lines. In front of one home, we saw four dogs, six chickens, and one dog eating a chicken. I suppose that sibling relationship was not particularly sacred.

The Bear Track country food store is a cute little convenience store near one of the campgrounds we frequented. One of the women inside wore a shirt with the slogan “if you’re not from the country, bless your heart.” I never asked her name, but I did ask the name of Sugar, the “guard dog,” out front. Sugar was part chow with thick, soft fur and a spotted tongue. She had a HUGE head that she rotated in a clockwise direction to about a 45-degree angle when scratched on the top of her head. Her hind end didn’t work very well (apparently she was hit by a car when young), but that didn’t keep her from roaming the town and making it to the store every day to get pets from passers-by.

Despite the preponderance of dogs as pets, Kentucky’s parks, preserves, and most campsites are all closed to dogs. We did see a few rogue dogs on the trail to the Natural Bridge one day, including a puppy Chiweenie named Jules who was cradled in the arms of a teenage girl. I think Jules and her family had the SLOWEST trip up and down to the arch imaginable, as everyone, including myself, had to reach out and touch the bundle of cuteness. I might have cooed as well. The greatest density of adventure dogs was at a crag called the Gallery in the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve. Boomer and Lamb were my favorite mutts. Boomer was a small Mastiff with a brindle coat. He sported a bright pink jacket to keep him warm in the chilly fall temps. He appeared to be digging to China while tied to a tree and wanted desperately to play with any other dog, or human, in sight. When approached by a human, he would do a pirouette and then back up into said visitor to ensure a scratching on the top of his bum, just above the tail.

Of all the beasts, Lamb stole my heart (pictured above). She was lean, lanky, had the softest ears and bright white. She had attentive eyes, a mottled nose, and puffed her cheeks out when exhaling. My dog Tikka does the same thing and it made me realize how much I miss her! Lamb was surprisingly quiet for a hound dog and was clearly a bit unhappy when her owner left the ground to gracefully scale the neighboring rock. Lamb was not content to just sniff my hand and let me scratch her behind the ears. She liked to get a paw on top of my left arm, and sniff the cuff of my left sleeve. While I could not smell anything unusual on my sleeve, Lamb’s intense interest compelled me to launder that shirt today. I wonder if the goats at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, our next destination, will be able to pick up on Lamb’s scent?

Gravy expressing jealousy over Boomer’s butt scratches


Emma and Boomer bonding