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This month, we are celebrating the life of one of our most beloved guests. Harper was a well-known, friendly face in the Country Club. All of our CEDARCREST team members have special memories of him and we were all sad to lose him recently. He was adventurous, fun loving and an extraordinary canine. He will be greatly missed.
Harper’s owner was kind enough to share the fateful story of how he met Harper which illustrates what a special dog he was.
April 11, 2004 - July 25, 2017
A magnificent animal.
A long, exuberant life.
It was August of 2004 when I first met Harper. He had been born the previous April.
He was supposed to be guarding sheep, but, having been bottle fed as a puppy with lots of human contact, kept walking off the job. No interest.
My climbing partner and I were walking down the fire road from Seneca Shadows National Forest campground when Harper (then Ralph) walked up to us. He was just 65 lbs or so, 4 months old, kind of dirty, super friendly though somewhat aloof. He followed us across the busy Rt. 33, along the access road to the mountain, & up the trail to the base of the climb. I remember so well seeing him pacing back and forth below us as we went vertical.
Two and a half months later we were climbing again. It was the last weekend in October. Gorgeous fall weather. I had clipped my wedding ring and truck key onto my harness. My partner and I were working our way up a rock chimney when the carabiner holding the ring and key engaged a nubbin of rock and popped off into the abyss. We rappelled down and searched for them until dark. No luck.
We called a friend back in Charlottesville who drove a spare key over to us.
During the time it took him to arrive, we were hanging out with other climbers, drinking beer and chatting about the day's adventures.
It was then that 'Ralph' made his re-appearance, still a bit scruffy, though a bit heavier. I was delighted to see him. It was then that I was told by one of the climbing guides that Joe Harper, owner of Ralph and of the general store (15 ft away from where I was hanging out) was looking to sell him. I wandered over and negotiated the purchase. $300 on my VISA card. And the rest is history. (My wife Lynn was in Seoul, S.Korea on a business trip during all of this)
When I got Harper back to C’ville, my mother (then 84, now 97) and I took him to a doggie bath place. We used blueberry shampoo and voila!, a magnificent white dog emerged. Mom still remembers it well.
Two days later I got a call from the climbing shop at Seneca. Ring and key found. Picked them up the next spring.
If I was a believer in things 'meant to be', it would be Harper and I being together. Just meant to be. We enjoyed almost 13 years sharing life, and memories of our countless adventures will stay with me forever.
At the end of October, just a few months from now, I will carry Harper's ashes to the South Summit of Seneca Rocks and commit them to the wind. Full Circle.