TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

Bonnie Hoffman, left, and Patti Gessner were thrilled to meet my dog, regardless of how awful she smelled.

Dog day afternoon

Most of the year, I’m not all that fond of “adulting,” what with work, bills and obligations up the wazoo, but when summer rolls around, it’s easier to slip into the old mindset of a carefree childhood and make time for some good old-fashioned fun. County fairs, outdoor concerts, farmers’ markets and lazy days at the lake abound here in the Upper Delaware River region, and I do my best to get outside as often as possible and enjoy all that summer has to offer. In my humble opinion (IMHO) there’s nothin’ better than soft-serve ‘round every corner, time off at the local swimmin’ hole and the pup at my side… at least when she’s not rolling in dead fish.

In fact, Dharma did just that last week while I was out boating on Kauneonga Lake with friends, and although I wanted to reprimand her, I reminded myself that aside from her many charms and usual good manners, at the end of the day, she’s a dog. She gets so excited as we approach the shore across the lake, anticipating that there will be between three and 17 other dogs roaming the beach in a pack, kids to play with, water to splash in and the occasional aforementioned slimy, rotting corpse.

“Is that why they call it “dog days?’” I asked, tearing her away from the fish.  Wriggling out of my arms, she went right back to rolling in the sand, while I asked my cell phone (what a world!) about the origin of the words. “The phrase ‘dog days’ refers to what the Old Farmer’s Almanac lists as the 40 days beginning July 3rd and ending August 11th, coinciding with the early morning rising of the Dog Star, Sirius” read the explanation online. “What do you know?” I thought. “I had no clue.” Scanning the horizon for the predicted incoming storm, I once again hauled the dog away from her decomposing prize, dipped her in the lake repeatedly and informed her that a real soap-and-water bath was imminent.

 Scheduled to photograph the concert at Bethel Woods, but worried about the rain affecting my camera, I ultimately decided to brave the summer elements, but the dog smelled disgusting, and I didn’t relish her getting wet again. So I left her at home and headed out—just as the sky opened up and the deluge began in earnest. Always-wonderful BW staffers offered me ponchos to protect me, while asking where you-know-who was, and I made my way to the pavilion for what turned out to be a fantastic show.

Some guy came out to announce that “surprise special guest band ‘Country Knights’” would open for LANCO, who would open for The Brothers Osbourne, who would open for Dierks Bentley. The unknown band members cavorted on stage in ridiculous wigs, bumping into each other, displaying a total disregard for rhythm, but they sounded suspiciously good, and I got out the zoom lens to get a better look at who was behind the outlandish getups. It turned out to be headliner Dierks and his guys goofing on the audience, many of whom never really knew who the pranksters were. In spite of the rain, thousands of fans stayed all night, and none (including me) left disappointed. That’s country at its best.

Although I had bathed Dharma twice, she still reeked the next morning, so I pulled into the Forestburgh General Store ( to see if proprietors Tyler Jagel and Courtney Hawvermale had some home-style remedy tucked into the shelves, which are always brimming with hard-to-find merchandise. “After all,” I said to my canine companion, “it’s a real general store—they have everything, just about everything else!” Ordering an egg sandwich and browsing for organic soaps, I was horrified to see my smelly dog jump on the couch where two women I had never met were sipping coffee. “Is that Dharma?” asked Bonnie Hoffman from Monticello. “We’d know her anywhere!” pal Patti Gessner chimed in. “I live in Port Jervis, and we love The River Reporter!” As I apologized for my pet’s aroma, the ladies shushed me and insisted on a photo. “It’s the only local paper we carry here,” Courtney said with a grin, bringing me my breakfast and a side of sausage for her majesty. “It’s a ruff life,” I said to the ladies, “but someone has to bathe her. I think that’s really why they call it the dog days.”

To view photos of the Dierks Bently concert featuring LANCO and The Brothers Osbourne, visit and like us on Facebook.


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