Theo went on his first hike 2 weekends ago! Like a real hike. Up a mountain.
It was kind of a random last minute thing. My friend called me the day before asking if I wanted to go hiking with him the next morning. It was a relatively short, and easy hike (6 miles round trip), and it was listed as dog-friendly, so I could bring Theo along. It just so happened that Theo had been completely stir-crazy that day, so I thought a hike would be just the thing for both of us.
The mountain we climbed was relatively short, but it took so much mileage to get up it because it was basically just a series of switch-backs. This worked out well because if you didn't know, Theo's legs are a little shorter than the average dog. So rather than trying to climb straight up a mountain, we got to climb a steep turn, then walk a relatively flat trail, and another steep turn, another flat trail, etc. So basically, for Theo it was a few high jumps, followed by mostly easy trail.
And he was a rock star! He loved every minute of it! Some of the climbing was really steep, involving climbing some pretty big rocks. I always expected him to stop and cry for me to lift him up them, but no, He worked it out on his own, figuring out the best hops and jumps to best get him around the bend. I was so proud of him! And, being the energizer bunny, he didn't slow down the entire climb. He was too happy to bother with something as pesky as being tired.
Here's a tip about those hiking guide books: when they say a hike is dog-friendly, I don't think they image someone bringing their toy poodle. I saw dog after dog on the trail, but they were all huge. Lots of Labs and Shepherds, and one lone Beagle who made a quick friend of Theo (Theo considers Beagles honorary Corgis, I think). Just about everyone we passed marveled at such a stumpy-legged dog making such a steep climb. A few people even expressed concern. All for not, of course. Theo needed to sympathy. He actually out-hiked my friend, who kept the pace a bit too slow for Theo's liking.
At the top of the mountain we took a short break for some water, then headed back down. This is the part I was most concerned about. Not for Theo. For myself! I am fine with climbing up anything, but climbing back down is always where I falter. See, I'm tall. Tall people have a high center of gravity. Also, I'm clumsy. Tall, clumsy people have a long way to fall. And I had Theo attached to me. Theo likes to climb down things. He has a very low center of gravity. He doesn't have to worry about falling down. And he doesn't understand that mommies really don't want to be dragged down steep rocks for fear of their lives. Thankfully Theo was pretty good about not yanking on the leash while I was in the middle of being precariously perched, and we all three made it down safe and sound.
It was a really great time. Overall, my favorite moment was when Theo leaped onto the smooth face of a steep rock, couldn't find traction, and slowly slipped back to the ground. What'd he do? He leaped up to the same spot again, and sliiiiiiid back to the ground. It was hilarious to watch! It looked as if he was thinking "This time I'll make it for sure!" So cute. I finally had to suggest an alternate route for him, when I could stop laughing long enough to speak. A close second was when we passed a small child who was crying and throwing a fit to his parents. He had fallen down and was hurt. Far too hurt to possibly consider continuing on the hike! Or so he was trying to convince them. Theo, distressed at the thought of an adorable child being so unhappy, ran up to the boy and started gently licking his fingers, to try to assure him that everything was ok. The boy immediately stopped cry, smiled at Theo, said "Hello doggie!" and bend down to pet him. As soon as we parted, I heard him start trying again, picking up where he left off. Sorry kid, I think your parents were on to you. Hehe!
Husband was bummed to miss the hike, he was out of town, so I'm sure we'll be doing it again soon with him in tow. Since I was handling Theo on my own, I didn't get a chance to take any pictures, which bums me out. Next time!
So after a 6 mile hike full of leaping and bounding over rocks, what does Theo do as soon as we walk in the door? Well if you read this blog with any kind of regularity, I'm sure you can guess that he immediately got a toy for me to throw for him. Yes, he actually still had energy to play fetch. I'll admit, it was a very half-hearted game of fetch, but the fact that he didn't immediately keel over and take a nap stunned me. I don't call him the energizer bunny for nothing, people!
Do you have any fun hiking stories with your dog to share? Is s/he like Theo in considering the steeper the climb the better?
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