Title: Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship
Author: Tom Ryan
Genre/Audience: Memoir, adult
Publication: William Morrow, 2011
Source: For review, TLC Tours
Summary: Following Atticus is the story of a man and his dog… except that this man and his dog climb mountains. Tom was a journalist in his small town, and kind of an outcast for always uncovering the latest dirt. He finally found a true companion when he adopted a miniature Schnauzer puppy, Atticus. Following the death of a close friend, Tom decided to climb all 48 four-thousand-foot peaks in New Hampshire with his 20 pound pup taking the lead. Despite the obstacles – being overweight, afraid of heights, and never having hiked mountains before – Tom and Atticus conquer the peaks, and more than once, too. During the journey, Tom learns about himself, accepts his past, and most of all, finds love and companionship with man’s best friend.
My Thoughts: The moment I first laid eyes on this book, I was in love. The adorable pup on the cover, and the thought of him hiking mountains, just captured my attention. I was not let down. The more I read, the more I loved Atticus.
I related to this story on so many levels. I both laughed on several occasions, and got choked up on even more. I know the love of an animal, and how they can so quickly capture your heart. Like Tom, I know how a dog can come bounding into your life and change it – and you – for the better. To see Atticus enter Tom’s life and change it and enhance it so completely just made me smile and think of the day I brought my own dog, Dakota, home. There is nothing quite like the love of an animal.
Not only was I moved, I was also inspired by Tom’s story. When he first began their hiking journey, he was overweight and very out of shape. He recalled walking down the street and getting out of breath. As many of you know, I am on a weight loss journey of my own, having lost 70 pounds so far, so to see Tom conquer the seemingly impossible… well, it showed me that I can too. And Attticus… funny, sweet, adorable Atticus… if he can climb mountains, surely I can climb my own mountains too. Tom made a statement at one point that the only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves. This reminded me of one of my all time favorite quotes, “limitations only exist if we let them.” Tom and Atticus show us how true this statement really is. They show us that anyone can do anything, so long as they keep on trying. My aunt and I have talked about someday hiking the Appalachian Trail together. It was a dream we shared, but nothing that ever seemed realistic. Now, I know we can do it.
I laughed at silly Atticus, and I teared up seeing the bond between him and his person. You can see the closeness and friendship that he and Tom share, and it’s just plain astounding. I was moved and inspired by this story so much. I could gush forever about it, but instead, I hope you’ll just read it and see for yourself. I’m going to pass this on to my aunt next to read, and subsequently, all of the animal lovers in my life. So I leave you with this – if you love animals, you really should read this book. And on that note, I’m going to go hug my dog! Atticus and Tom, I commend you!
My Rating: 5/5