[Cdt-l] thru-dogs

Jonathan Ley jonathan at phlumf.com
Sat Jan 5 11:56:28 CST 2008

When I hiked the PCT, there was a woman who hiked with her dog. She 
started a little early to try for a cooler trip through the desert & 
took some time-off in Kennedy Meadows. She wound up skipping sections of 
the national parks, but found alternate routes and such. Sure, the PCT 
is different than the CDT, but there are many similar challenges.

I don't know how she handled logistics like hitching and/or hotels, but 
managed somehow. Her husband did meet her at many stops along the way, 
but not all of them.

The dog was extremely well-behaved, smart and had no health problems. 
She (the dog) was always very tired in towns and usually just slept 
under some shade somewhere, but there was no doubt to me that the dog 
absolutely loved it out there. I couldn't imagine the dog would leave 
the trail to chase anything. The dog had a small saddle pack which held 
the hiker's very light camp stove and I think a bit of dog food. The dog 
did almost always have a short leash attached, but would walk at a 
hiker's pace nearby the hiker. If someone was coming up the trail, the 
dog would wait for the hiker to come pick up the leash so the other 
people wouldn't be startled.

I've heard other stories of dogs who had miserable times with ripped-up 
paws, etc... I've seen plenty of "out-of-control" dogs with day-hikers. 
I even helped carry a severely dehydrated (and heavy) dog 6 miles out of 
the desert. All dogs and all owners are not created equal.

I think it totally depends on the dog, and the owner. Is the dog 
well-trained to heel and obey other commands? Will it give chase to 
pikas, squirrels, marmots? If you tell it to stop, does it stop 
immediately? Is it about mid-sized, young and healthy? Is it used to 
hiking over rough terrain? Are you used to hiking with the dog? Do you 
have a routine worked out? Do you honestly consider yourself a 
responsible and un-selfish owner? I think it would be prudent to have a 
solid "plan B" to implement if the dog isn't doing well on the trail. 
You can consider bringing the dog along for just a section or two. Just 
don't push it, and don't kid yourself into thinking the dog is OK if it 
isn't - the dog can't make up it's own mind and is relying on you for 
its health and safety.


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