Sunday, May 23, 2010

Walk On

I let my feelings get the best of me today, which in turn brought out the worst in me. Mindless chore completion and a trip to the gym did nothing to soothe the savage beast. Nonsense spewed from her foaming mouth and when it became clear that she would remain until day's end, I decided it might be prudent to leave her to her own devices. Why not take a walk? Why, it's right up there with the daily apple or prune juice to combat attitude malaise. Add a dog to the prescription and you're on the road to recovery.

I packed up the canine and drove to Poughkeepsie. Hardly the Disneyland of the northeast, it does boast of a marvelous new attraction- the Walkway Over the Hudson. The longest pedestrian bridge in the world, its 1.28 mile span offers unobstructed views of the river set to the heartbeat of scores of walkers, joggers and cyclists. From the moment our feet and paws hit the pavement, I could feel my inner monster loosen her grasp. Just what the witch doctor ordered.

Walking with Gracie makes me laugh. She is a fur-covered dose of Prosac without the side effects. Her goofy grin set to full power, she scores head pats, butt rubs, and at the very least, charmed smiles from our fellow walkers. A party waiting to happen, she issues countless invitations to her festivities and receives few refusals. Her guest list grows exponentially as I follow in her four footsteps. "It's okay-I'm with the dog."

The realization of 20 years of reclamation efforts, the Walkway Over the Hudson is the rebirth of an abandoned railroad bridge damaged by fire on May 8, 1974. Failed attempts to save it led to popular opinion that it would eventually be torn down. Bill Sepe, a local handyman obsessed with the idea of a pedestrian walkway, formed Walkway Over the Hudson in 1992. While his original plan to restore the bridge with volunteer labor and funds didn't work, the organization took over ownership of the bridge in 1998. In 2004, a new board with a greater vision was in place, and in 2007 joined forces with the Dyson Foundation to raise the necessary funds. The project took 16 months and $38.8 million dollars to complete. Managed by the state as an historic park, the handyman's obsession stands as a glorious tribute to the tenacity of its supporters.

In our precarious economic times, even the most successful projects face the pressures of downsizing. New York State is considering the closing of 41 state parks and 14 historic sites, and the Walkway may feel the sting of that decision. A charge for parking may be in place by summer and the winter may find the Walkway closed on certain days. One trip across this masterpiece will prove that these problems are well worth tackling.

As we finished our stroll, I realized I no longer carried the weight of my miserable mood. Unable to stand the euphoria brought on by clear air and spectacular views, she must have hurled herself into the river. A glass of Cabernet and a salad at one of my local haunts would keep her there.

Like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz", I had found what I needed in my own backyard, or more specifically, in Gracie. Sweet and short-sighted, she offers immediate relief to anxiety and access to the simplest of pleasures. When in doubt, listen to the dog.

For more information on the Walkway Over the Hudson, visit


  1. THAT gave me GOOSEBUMPS! walk on, and yes indeed...listen to the dog.

    I spent the weekend walkin' with Miss Lucy, Kittay and my 4 legged gradnson - Mylo. During saturday nights stroll, with Mr. Cooked and wine - we changed their names to "Pete" "Julie" and "Lincoln" :) they are so cool and adaptable... :)

    CHEERS to Bill and all the visionaries ..and cheers to Gracie!!! and her prosaic paws...

    I love that your blog always intertwines the dog.... YOU have a book, if ever I saw one... simple, honest, pure, fun, funny..... visually pleasing (photo's)...

  2. What a wonderful post. And you're right. There's nothing like a dog to put us back into a great mood. "Listen to the dog." I like that advice.

  3. Wow - thank you for that heartfelt post about Gracie. My dog passed away a little over two years ago and I've been struggling with whether to get another one or not. Your post reminded me what soothing and wise companions dogs can be and that our world is always a bit richer for their company.
    Thank you!


  4. I have a cat, Lena, who lifts my spirits too. She greets my husband and me when we come home by lying on her back and stretching -- luxuriously waiting for her pets and rubs. She communicates with us in a hundred different ways and we would miss her company terribly if she were not around.

  5. Thanks for the comments! Shannon, I've become addicted to your steadfast support. Leeuna, if there's a dog in your life, by all means listen to the wisdom. ScentMagic- run, don't walk to your next best friend; there's one out there waiting for you.I had Grace within 2 days of losing my beloved Emma. ( A little on the fast side for most folks, but it worked out for me.)Kally- Make the most of your time with Lena; spare no pets and rubs and she will reach out to you in a hundred more ways.

  6. Thank you for what you write. I love it. Our cat, Razz, is the love of our lives.

  7. Hi There...You are on LOL link up and enjoy..!!

  8. We named our company after our 3 doggies. Three Dogs Production LLC.

    Our lives revolve around our three young men. My son is grown up and married so the doggies have assumed the position...of our new kids.

    Exercise is my passion. Exercising with the doggies ain't so sweet. They're a bit spoiled and all go in their own direction. It's not a pretty site LOL