Dog: Woman’s Best Adventure Friend
Dogs: Woman’s Best Adventure Friend
By Beth Bault
A good adventure partner is hard to find. Too often, plans will fall through with a late night text message or an “Oh, I’ve made other plans” response to a confirmation phone call. Even the most stalwart of human adventure partners may not be inspired by the same hike–leaving a determined adventurer to soldier on alone or make alternative plans.
My fuzzy adventure partner is a 4-year-old Labrador. Imbued with the doggie zest for life, he is always up for a hiking adventure. While my husband is a wonderful adventure companion, he is human and full of his own interests and passions so he sometimes bows out of adventures I wish to pursue. Rarely do I lack for companionship thanks to the fuzzy one.
Sprocket came home with us as a tiny pup. He was only five weeks old when he came to live with us. After a week of being on puppy patrol, I started to go a bit stir-crazy in our apartment. Just a short car ride away was a hill that I often visited on my runs, so I loaded up the pup and headed over. I knew the mile-long hike was more than his new little legs were up for so I put my backpack on backwards, wrapped him in a towel, and tucked him inside. He happily slept the entire way up the hill…but that was the last time. On the way down, I let him walk, sniffing his way down. When we returned a few days later, he would not stay in the backpack because walking was so much more fun!
Since then, Sprocket and I have learned to work together in the wild. When he is confronted with a field of cholla cactus ready to wreak havoc on his paws, he falls behind me and trusts me to pick the safest route through their spines.
I believe deeply in the power of getting out and exploring nature on your own but being out with just Sprocket is also really important to me. When we’re out together, he relies completely on me. As his human, it’s my responsibility to be sure that I’ve brought enough water for us both on the hike. I have to know what his limitations are and plan the hike accordingly. And if the aforementioned cholla strikes, I have to gently pull the spines from his paws.
Sprocket never fails to brighten my day but I feel it most on the trail. I find myself chattering up the slope, “Come on, good boy! We’re almost there!” Perhaps even better than that, he’ll often get restless if I pause too long for water and let me know in his doggie-language that he’s ready to continue upslope and I must follow. At a summit, he usually drinks his fill of water and settles in on my feet to enjoy the view.