Luke and I got together Christmas Eve almost two years ago. He came home New Years Eve, so he’s always been my Happy New Dog. Happy is the key word. Now, Luke came to me through the Modesto pound where his aptitude for escape earned him his name, Cool Hand Luke. Now that he and I are together I make that more to be Lucky Luke*. We were headliners briefly on the success story page.

But on to summer in the Sierras. We have a new tradition and destination, Yosemite, more particularly the Dimond O campground just outside the park on the Hetch Hetchy side. It has been dry here the last couple years and the Middle Fork of the Tuolumne has been pretty low. Well, now that Luke has memorized all the good trails around and near the campground he has a perfect answer to a four hour drive from the Bay Area. He leads me directly to the creek for a refreshing swim. Last year he was such an avid fisherman he got hypothermia. This year his efforts were crowned with success. Now I suspect the trout he caught was pretty slow, not to say dead, but… Anyway he was so proud of himself. He pranced ashore holding it high. Then he dropped it on the ground and prepared to roll on it. That was not going to happen! We have a small mountain tent. When I told him he instantly changed plan and swallowed it down in one fell slurp.

The delightful thing is how happy he is to be in the mountains. When the stars begin to fade and the sky begins to gray I get the puppy nose in the sleeping bag. At first I thought he was cold he was trembling so much. It wasn’t even chilly. He was just excited. I try to tell him that outside it will be cold and we should wait for sunrise. However Luke has a different plan for the day. If I don’t listen to him he says, “Well, I’ve tried the genteel approach…” and starts batting me with his paws. Pretty quick he’s testing my martial skills blocking and diverting his old one-two. It’s all in fun and he knows I’ll give it up and see it his way sooner or later.

There has only been one exception to the morning routine. This year a momma bear and her two cubs were hanging around Camp Mather, a mile or so up the road. Well sometime about O-dark-hundred Luke got busy waking me up. He was trying to tell me there was something important we just had to go outside and check. Right. I told him to roll over. It wasn’t happening. Well, being the good dog he is, he must have stayed up the rest of the night on guard. I actually had to wake him up about 7.

Luke is an awesome traveler. Of course we start at dawn for the cooler temperatures and I give him pit stops. We go the back roads which is happier for all of us. Who knew there was still an S&W Green stamp sign at the Valley Home store?

Cheers, Charles