I was born on April 1, 2002 to a Saint Bernard mom and a Border Collie dad. I guess my dad needed a step-stool to get that to work. Basically, I like hiking, being outside, and running around. I get bored watching tv and sitting around, unless it is Animal Planet on a rest day from hiking, otherwise get me outside. I am always on a leash because my dad says that I need to be because some people don’t like dogs. I am ok with that because at least I get to go with him and be outside. We usually walk a long way each day and sometimes we go swimming or cross rivers and other times we walk through the snow all day. My favorite is walking through the snow. Sometimes when we hike the same trail twice I get all excited because I remember the places where I saw deer, bear, and other cool things last time.
Hiking With Your Dog
I get a lot of e-mails regarding tips for bringing dogs hiking and long distance hiking, so I have typed up some tips that have worked well for us. Please note that a lot of these things may be individual and it will be best if you find your own system that works for you and your dog.
- We started hiking together when Yoni was a puppy so she got used to it gradually and built up the tolerance, mileage, and lifestyle from a young age. As a a result she just seems to know what to do when it comes to certain things. For example, she always drinks a lot of water at every water source so I rarely need to carry water for her unless it is really hot out or over 30 miles without water and she also knows that if I stop to talk to someone that she should take advantage of the time not moving and lie down and get off her feet, just as I would do normally when I stop walking. She also knows that when I take my backpack off she can lie down and when I pick it up then we are going. So she goes straight to sleep when I stop to set up camp, but when I actually go to sleep then she seems to sleep a little lighter and keep an extra eye out for things (I guess she knows that I usually sleep through anything). I think that starting her young was a very important step in introducing her to it all.
- I always keep her on a leash, even though she would be fine off leash. I think it is best because then I am regulating her walking a little bit more, so she never does extra unnecessary miles. In addition, I just feel it is the proper thing to do out of respect in case there are other people around because some people may not like dogs. I can also keep an eye on her bodily functions so that I can properly dispose of them. There are too many places that have already banned dogs and I feel that if dog owners do not act responsibly and respectfully then we will lose many of the remaining areas where they are allowed.
- Food Ideas: Yoni will get trim and fit and lose a little bit of weight, just like any long distance hiker, but she can maintain her body weight well and most importantly keep her energy level high. Here’s how we do it, I feed her twice a day, but she usually won’t really eat in the morning because she is thirsty, so if she has left over food from the nighttime then I will add water to it and then she will eat the “cereal” because she wants the water. I always feed her puppy food when we are hiking because it is higher in calories and then at night I also add cooking oil (usually corn or vegetable oil) to her food for extra calories. I also give her dog vitamins every other day. On the trail she will normally eat 2-3 lbs. per day. However, I try to keep the same philosophy for her that I do for myself. So I try to have her binge a little when we get to towns also. I will buy a can or 2 of wet dog food and add it to dry food in town and sometimes cookies (they are high in calories) and feed her as much as she can eat when we are in town.
- other question that I get a lot is how to take care of the dog’s pads/feet. We have never had a real issue with this, but I have carried booties a few times and put them on her a few times, mainly in Oregon on the PCT when you walk across the sharp lava around Mackenzie Pass and also while hiking in the winter on the east coast when the moist snow would otherwise ball up between her toes and drive her crazy. Other than those few times, I really haven’t done anything about it. One thing to be careful of is extreme heat, hot ground, and especially blacktop on hot days if roadwalking. This can easily hurt dog’s paws.
- When fording a swift river, I hold onto her collar on my downstream side so that she won’t get swept downstream and she won’t push into me and throw me off-balance.
- You will find your own tricks and learn how to read your dog’s expressions. I think that we have a connection now that is literally beyond words. I can read pretty much all of her expressions and know what they mean and I have even learned things about myself to gauge of my behavior towards her. For example, I know if I start getting frustrated with her while we are walking, then I am starting to get dehydrated. Always break your dog in slowly with mileage, time hiking, and weight in their dogpacks (if they are carrying one). I usually start with all of this before a hike and will never load her with over 4-5 days of food during the hike, even if she is in optimal shape. I think that is just too heavy for her and would rather be safe than sorry.
I hope this helps. If you have any other questions feel free to drop me an e-mail.