“If your travels take you to New England, be sure to visit Scituate Harbor in Massachusetts. It is mostly a fishing town, filled with charm and the site of a beautiful lighthouse. We did when searching for our dog, and were not disappointed.”
Searching for the Perfect Dog—Travels Not Included, So We Thought
It was December 1999, though we didn’t party like it was. My husband, my daughter and I had just moved into a new house. Ever the opportunist, our daughter, almost 8, began asking for a puppy for her upcoming birthday, as we now had a beautiful yard to accommodate it.
To Find the Perfect Dog, We Had to Do a Lot of Research
When posed with the question of what kind of dog she wanted, she quickly answered, “An Akida, or something like it.” She was clearly keen, and had done her research, so my husband and I began to do ours. We bought two books: “Dogs for Dummies” and “Legacy of the Dog,” one of my favorite dog books to this day.
We also visited a couple of breeders, went to pet stores, and looked for pictures on the Internet. It became our family quest to find the perfect dog: one that would be gentle and yet protective, not too obnoxious with loud barks, didn’t require constant brushing or daily brisk walks, essentially a low-maintenance family dog.
There was one deal maker or breaker, according to our daughter: the dog had to be big and fluffy so we could hug it. It wasn’t until July of 2001 that we found the perfect breed that met all of our criteria: the Eurasier.
Our Search for a Dog Meant Travels: to New England
Now it was time to find a breeder, contact other owners who could tell us more about this newfound type of dog. I won’t go into details here because this is an article about traveling not dogs, but if it were not for this particular breed, our family would have never visited Massachusetts, one of the most significant places in the United States’ history.
It was there, in Plymouth, that the Mayflower arrived bringing pilgrims who sought religious freedom in the New World. And it was also in Plymouth where we found a Eurasier breeder. To make Massachusetts even more noteworthy to our family, my husband’s mom and all of her relatives are originally from Pembroke, a beautiful town located ten minutes away from the breeder’s house… Small world.
North River Eurasiers in Plymouth, Massachusetts
By August we were contacting North River Eurasiers to make arrangements. Although there were no Eurasiers available until next year, the breeder told us that they were going to add our name to the list in case anyone gave up on “adopting” a puppy. Our daughter would have to wait a bit longer. And then September 11 happened. The world changed. Having a dog didn’t seem so important now. Or so we thought.
Happy Travels, We Found A Dog!
In February 2002, we get a call from North River Eurasiers. The male sire, Otto, and the dame, Wanda, had an eight-puppy litter. One of the buyers backed out because he wanted a female, and there were none available. Only a male. The three of us talked about it and concluded that it was time to bring home the new addition to the family. And thus, our journey to the East Coast began.
First Stop, New York City
The first stop was New York. We had already a business trip scheduled one week prior to the date when they puppy would be cleared for pick-up. That’s why the first stop was New York. It is good for dogs, socially and emotionally, to remain with their family for the first eight weeks of their life. How convenient! We could bring our daughter to New York and then drive up the coast to Massachusetts.
We worked in Manhattan for four days; during the day our daughter stayed with one of our good friends, who took her to Central Park and FAO Schwarz. After work hours we took her to see a bit of the city. I remember people’s hearts still being raw, everyone being considerate and kind—a transformation from the rough and stressed New Yorkers I once knew.
A Deeply Moving Moment
The most important moment of our time there was when we went as a family to Ground Zero to see the ruins of the World Trade Center. We were overwhelmed with grief and gratitude while we watched the volunteers work, visited the makeshift memorials near the fences, viewed photographs of those who perished, and spoke with other visitors.
It was gut wrenching to witness the camaraderie and drive in those volunteers’ hearts while they dug through the rubble of concrete and bodies. Those are images and feelings that we, as a family, will never forget—just as we, as a nation, vowed to.
Next Travel Destination: Scituate Harbor
Our business in New York concluded and it was now time to pick up the car rental. All three of us could hardly contain our excitement as we drove through Connecticut and Rhode Island to arrive in Massachusetts where a puppy awaited us. Our initial destination was The Inn at Scituate Harbor. The plan was to drop off our luggage and drive straight to Plymouth to meet the new little guy and his family.
Scituate Harbor is quite unique. It is mostly a fishing town, filled with New England charm and the site of a beautiful lighthouse. To me, at the time, its only claim to fame is that it was the location site for the film “Witches of Eastwick,” with actors Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Chere. To my husband, however, Scituate Harbor had a special meaning: the account of the “American Army of Two.”
A Brief History of Scituate Harbor
During the War of 1812, two girls, Rebecca and Abigail Bates, lived at the lighthouse with their father and mother. One day, they were alone with their mother at the Old Scituate Light station when they saw a British warship land near the harbor and soldiers board dinghies. They realized it was a raiding party. Without time to warn the town, the two girls seized a fife and a drum and began to play, hoping that others would hear them. As the soldiers approached land they were startled by the intense noise and thought that the town’s militia had been alerted to come after them. They turned around and retreated to their ship hastily.
These two little girls changed the destiny of Scituate Harbor and possibly the war.
Why We Chose Scituate Harbor
No, not because “The Witches of Eastwick” was shot there. We chose to stay in Scituate Harbor because my husband loves the ocean and sail boats. I love lighthouses. And our daughter, well, she loved us and was enthralled with the idea of going on a trip to pick up her very own little dog. The hotel is not esoterically fancy but it perfectly served our needs: they accepted dogs. We dropped our luggage and headed to the breeder’s house.
Travels Must Pause, Time to Meet Our Dog
After a forty-minute drive, mostly on Pilgrim’s highway and then through a beautiful small road in the woods, we arrived at North River Eurasiers. The joy in our little girl’s smile is etched forever in my heart. She had waited over two years for this moment.
For an adult, two years go by fast, but not for a child. We finally get to meet the cutest waddling ball of fur I had ever seen. And there were still five others! Two of his brothers had already been picked up. We stayed there for a couple of hours playing with the puppies until dinner. Of course we would return the next day but now it was time to eat.
Soup and Stuff
We drove back to Scituate Harbor and went to The Mill Wharf Restaurant to try some authentic New England clam chowder, lobster and crab. What else? I remember ordering crab cakes and onion soup instead of clam chowder. My husband was indignant with my poor choice of soup, but I have this thing with onion soup that wherever they serve it, I have to try it. Sometimes they are delicious and other times they are horrible. In the case of The Mill Wharf, the onion soup was good, but I’m still on a quest to make a super healthy and yet super delicious onion soup. The standard recipe is just too filled with gluten and dairy. Enough about onions and enough about this day. We were exhausted and ready to hit the hay. Hashtag: I could be a rapper.
Our Travels Resume
Our second day of travel was going to be a long one. We had to go see Plymouth rock, of course, and Cape Cod before heading back to North River Eurasiers to pick up the puppy.
We got up early and drove to Pilgrims Memorial State Park to see for the first time, the famous rock and landmark for the disembarkation of the Mayflower ship, with William Bradford among a group of 102 passengers, some of them separatists from the Church of England seeking asylum from religious persecution.
How rich is the history of the United States. These families sailed through rough waters and suffered many hardships to reach the New World. Although there are different accounts on whether Jonestown or Plymouth became the first colony, I am going to stick with Plymouth for the sake of this article and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday which we celebrate in the United States on the last Thursday of November. I’m also not going to address the other European expeditions who arrived earlier on the East Coast of America.
The Plymouth rock itself was smaller than anticipated. I remember our daughter commenting: “Is this it?” But the feeling of gratitude for those pioneers was strong in her heart and ours. They had a vision to create a better future for their families and sacrificed it all to see that their vision became reality. Of course they were not the only ones in history, but that day they were the focus of our appreciation.
The reason why the people of the Mayflower became known as pilgrims derives from the accounts of William Bradford himself, when he wrote:
…With mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves of one another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them…but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country and quieted their spirits…—William Bradford
The Mayflower Replica
We also visited a smaller replica of the Mayflower, the Mayflower II at the pier. This ship was seaworthy when we were there and had just returned from a trip to Rhode Island. It was built in England with help from the Plymouth Plantation museum and represented the new alliance between the U.K. and the U.S.A., for helping defeat the Nazi regime in Europe. The ship sailed across the Atlantic, recreating the original voyage and was towed up the East River into New York City on July 1, 1957.
The Plimoth Plantations
Our next stop was the Plimoth Plantation, the recreation of an original 17th-Century English Village built by the Pilgrims along the shore of Plimoth Harbor. We were reminded of the Amish community still existing in Iowa to this day with their simple ways of life, and imagined how privileged those first settlers were to live in the new land as a community that shared the importance of God and family. It is a part of traditional American history that in November 1621, of the 102 who traveled in the Mayflower, only 53 were still alive to celebrate with the Wampanoag indians the harvest feast which became known as “The First Thanksgiving.”
Giving Thanks and Praying for a Whole Week!
Technically, their days of thanksgiving were days of payer, not a day to feast. And the only written account of the harvest feast does not mention turkey, cranberries or mashed potatoes. Rather it tells that they ate duck, the natives hunted and brought venison, and most likely they had seafood, cabbage, onions, corn and squash. The original feast lasted a week, not just one afternoon. This all happened right there where we were now standing. I never take for granted the privilege to live in this great nation.
In 1623, Emmanuel Altham, an English visitor wrote of the town:
“It is well situated upon a high hill close unto the seaside… In this plantation is about twenty houses, four or five of which are very fair and pleasant, and the rest (as time will serve) shall be made better. And this town is in such manner that it makes a great street between the houses, and at the upper end of the town there is a strong fort, both by nature and art, with six pieces of reasonable good artillery mounted thereon… This town is paled about with pale of eight foot long, or thereabouts, and in the pale are three great gates…. And lastly, the town is furnished with a company of honest men…”—Emmanuel Altham
More Travels: Cape Cod
Of course we had to visit Cape Cod. In my memories storehouse there were pictures of the Kennedy’s, John F. and Jacqueline, sailing, enjoying the Atlantic Ocean. Growing up I remember my Mom watching her on TV. She was such a fashion icon; every adult woman wanted to wear a Jacqueline Kennedy style suit, manteau, scarves with sunglasses and accessories. She was the epitome of class, which seems to be common among the women from that area.
Our daughter’s grandma, my mother-in-law, is from Pembroke as I said earlier. She is a very classy lady to this day, and although she has lived in California for most of her adult life, our daughter still giggles when she says: “I’m need to pawk my caw.”
And Then There Was Brazilian Food!
Arriving in the area, we saw a restaurant called Brazilian Grill, and did not hesitate to go in for some scrumptious “churrasco.” It was there that we began to notice that there is a strong presence of Brazilians in Massachusetts.
A few minutes earlier, while trying to find a radio station, there were three playing Brazilian music. During our time near Plymouth Rock we also heard a couple of people speaking Portuguese. The Brazilian food was delicious: black beans, rice, salad, and “pão de queijo” (cheese bread). Again, rather than going for crab and lobster, we decided to break with tradition.
Final New England Travels: The Outer Beach
Our next stop before heading to North River: the Outer beach—forty miles of a majestic coast covered by sand, marshes, ponds and uplands. It was a windy afternoon with sand flying everywhere. We put our feet in the water and walked on the seashore for a moment before having to return to “drylands” to escape the “sand attack.”
The architecture was just as I had imagined: beautiful. Houses are made of wood walls and wood-shingle roofing. Pieces of driftwood are used as decoration. The feeling was that the place was not new; I must have visited it in my dreams.
Puppy Pick Up and the Home Travels
Evening was approaching and it was time to go get the puppy. This was an emotional moment because he was going to be separated from his birth family and now be joined to our crazy little family. Even though dogs are not people, they do become a part of their human pack by living in your house and participating in family activities. There he was, the little dark bundle of fur with his fluffy wagging tail, testing the softness of our hands with his tiny sharp teeth.
Meet Bazuka, a.k.a. Zuka
Our daughter named him Bazuka, but we immediately started calling him Zuka for short. The breeder proceeded to give us all kinds of instructions about the Eurasier breed and was able to answer our hundreds of questions. She also gave us dog food for the trip, a little dog collar with a leash, and saw us off from her porch. We placed Zuka in his “Sherpa®” bag and on our daughter’s lap in the back of the car. It was now time to spend one more night in Scituate Harbor as a new family of four and then drive to Boston to catch an airplane.
Our Historical Travels Filled with Historical Memories
That night, we taught Zuka to pee on newspaper, fed him some food and water, and in the morning we took him for a walk on the pier and around the lighthouse. Our new life as dog owners began in Scituate Harbor, the small town in Massachusetts that has become a part of us, the historic location we will never forget.