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From the Mountaintop: Hiking with Dogs

Dr. Randy Watts
This past year, in a devotion, I shared the story of Jefferson and encouraged our students to think about the three legs that work, rather than the one that does not. Put differently — focus on your strengths, feel grateful for the gifts that you have, and inspire others with your perseverance.
Every summer for the past several years our family has ventured to the mountains of North Carolina for some rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Ben and Sam attend Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, N.C., during part of this time.

This year, we brought our dogs with us. On the 437 mile trip from Thomasville, Ga., to Asheville, N.C., our Honda Pilot held our two boys, our two dogs, and hauled a trailer filled with camp trunks, suitcases, dog food, toys, bowls, doggie beds, and all sorts of gear for the outdoors. Surprisingly, we were all in good spirits when we arrived.

While many of you have met our dogs, as a reminder, we have:

Rowlf, a border collie and standard poodle mix named after the piano-playing muppet. (I hope some of you still remember the Muppets!).

Jefferson, our rescue dog of undetermined heritage. He was found on the side of the road with two broken hind legs and was nursed back to health by Dr. Beckey Malphus, a local veterinarian with unyielding compassion. He is named after Thomas Jefferson — the third president of the United States — and statesman from our native home of Virginia.

One day, Nadia, the dogs, and I embarked on a hike to Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain in the Pisgah National Forest. This 6 ½ mile hike had more rugged terrain than advertised, and we worried that our dogs (who are used to the rolling Red Hills, not mountains), might struggle.

They hiked like champs! With each turn, their enthusiasm increased, as we had to put more energy into holding them back than spurring them on.

I want to draw special attention to Jefferson. As I mentioned, he had severe leg injuries as a puppy, and, after three surgeries, has one hind leg that is fully healed, and one that will never bend again.

Jefferson hiked with gusto, using the three healthy legs to his advantage and working around the one leg that he sometimes uses to prop himself up.

This past year, in a devotion, I shared the story of Jefferson and encouraged our students to think about the three legs that work, rather than the one that does not. Put differently — focus on your strengths, feel grateful for the gifts that you have, and inspire others with your perseverance.

We can get to the mountaintop despite any innate challenges that we may have. Further, we can inspire others to get to their own mountaintops with a positive mindset and a demonstration of tenacity.

I am looking forward to another great year at Brookwood! Our students can all reach their personal mountaintops and inspire others to do the same.

See you in a few weeks. As a  side note, this blog contains hints about what our school theme will be for 2018-19. Let me know if you can figure it out.

Warm regards from the mountains of North Carolina,

Randy Watts
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Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.