The moment when you first feel inspired to go do the unthinkable is breathtaking, you have it all under control until you realize planning was not included in the moment. I announced my intentions of hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) well before I had done any REAL research or planning. Did I know what the AT was? Of course I did. Or so I thought.
With a year to go before I will make my way up Springer Mountain in GA I have plenty of time to start planning. There are some BIG things to be planned. I am not the only one undertaking this experience, although I am the only one doing it by choice. I will be taking my trusty sidekick and companion Star along for the trip. A young pup with a sense of adventure. Star was rescued along with her siblings from a shelter in Arkansas and made her way up to NH where I saw her adorable face staring at me through her web profile. Love at first sight!
For anyone who is thinking to take their dog hiking I wish you the best in finding all the information you need. After hours of scrubbing the internet looking for one piece of information or another I have come to an understanding, there is NO ONE PLACE to find what you are looking for. Keywords, phrases, websites… so much knowledge and so little organization. Opinions. There are a lot of those out there. And since there are so many I’m going to put one more out there.
Dogs on the trail are AWESOME!!! They require work and time! My dog is happiest when she is running free. But hike days with a dog are not just about the dog. They are about yourself and others on the trail. When I first started hiking with Star I didn’t think this way. It was for her. So what she was bombing up the trail, chasing squirrels, meeting other dogs, not coming back when called, she was having the time of her life! These were her puppy days.
Three years later I realize just how naïve my perspective was.
When on the trail ALWAYS have your dog under control. Star has taught me MANY things in the three years I’ve had her. She doesn’t love every dog she meets. Not all dogs love her. She’s better off leash than on. Treats make everything better. Even though she ignores people it doesn’t mean they feel comfortable around her. And you never know what they’re getting into when you can’t see them.
Down to the nitty gritty of things you might want to consider before going on the trail. I sat and made a list. It was a short list. I started searching and suddenly my list got longer and longer, to the point where there was no easy way to find the information. I will try to provide as much insight into the topics I’m covering. Much of what I say may be my own opinion or based off select facts that I have found.
1) Does your dog enjoy hiking?
2) Are they physically able?
3) Are dogs allowed where you’re going?
4) Does your dog play well with others?
5) What supplies does your dog need on the trail?
6) Are you willing to take care of their poop?
7) Special accommodations?
8) Environmental hazards?
10) Veterinary care
11) Are you ready to put their needs before yours?