Jan West loves dogs more than people.
"Neither Jan, Trekker or Freddie can come to the phone right now," is the message you hear when you call her number.
At the entrance to her door hangs this sign: "This house is operated solely for the care and comfort of the dog."
Jan with her dog Freddie
Jan with her dog Freddie
She divides people into two groups: those who love dogs and those who don't care for them. She agrees with Andy Rooney, who said, "One thing I know for sure: Most dogs are nicer than most people," and "The average dog is a nicer person than the average person."
"When I was a kid, I always wanted a dog, but my parents wouldn't go for it," she said. "I guess when I grew up and got my own place, I made up for it."
Jan was born and grew up in Syracuse. She graduated with a chemistry major from SUNY Oswego in 1965. Later she worked as a chemist, first for Bristol Labs and then at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry until she retired.
Although she spent most of her life in central New York, her heart was always in the Adirondacks.
"I always wanted to live in the Adirondacks," she said. "I love the High Peaks, the wilderness, hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing. I love to be in nature, to hear the sound of birds singing outside my window."
When her home near central New York's Highland Forest burned down in 1994, she had the opportunity to do so.
A true Adirondack woman, Jan is very independent and self-sufficient. She often pushes herself beyond her limits. She also has a witty sense of humor.
She moved here with Banjo and Trekker, two Labrador retriever siblings.
"A cabin in Rainbow Lake was the perfect home for the three of us," she said. "It was small, but it was enough."
After Banjo grew old and died, she got her dog Freddy, another Labrador retriever, to keep Trekker company so he wouldn't get lonely. Soon, though, Trekker also got old and passed on to doggie heaven. Dogs just don't live as long as people do.
Jan and Freddie love to explore the woods, to roam the woods and trails. Freddy enjoys chasing crows and squirrels. You can often find them at Sheep's Meadow and Grassy Pond. Other favorite spots include the Bloomingdale Bog and the area around Little Green and Little Clear ponds. They get out in all seasons: on foot or on mountain bikes in summer, on skis and snowshoes when the ground is covered with snow.
Jan also loves to garden. Among the things that she brought with her from central New York were a small greenhouse and some sunchoke (also known as Jerusalem artichoke) bulbs. These beautiful yellow flowers with edible tuberous roots have been passed from gardener to gardener and now adorn many homes in the Tri-Lakes region.