How can a four-legged furry creature make such a difference to a day hiker?! My dog Truffles has a way of motivating me towards a day hike, better than some of my hiking friends.
The moment I head to the outside door, her manner changes, as she eagerly anticipates an adventure ahead. By the time I am lacing up my hiking boots, she is rolling on the floor under my feet and on top of my boots, slowing down my progress. But by now she has brought a smile to my face.
When we are hiking, she is fun to watch as she crosses streams and finds her way over and around rocks. She is upbeat and wears a smile across her face. She is beaming with happiness. She loves to be in the lead but will never go out of sight. She stops to check to make sure I am O.K. before going on again.
When Truffles was young and learning obedience and behaviors, I prepared to put her on a leash to go in our yard. She plainly explained, “If you don’t put a leash on me in our yard I promise not to run off.” I said, “O.K. we will try it.” I have never had to put a leash on and she has never needed to be reminded. Only in public places—and she knows the rules.
She is a good hiking dog because she doesn’t bark or yip and goes quietly along without bothering nature. She enjoys seeing birds, squirrels, and even cats, and she wags her tail with excitement, but does not chase them. She promised she didn’t want a leash and this is foremost on her mind, good behavior. She has never been scolded or reprimanded and is proud of her behavior.
Truffles likes to go on familiar trails and has a great memory. It is fun to watch her find and point out places special to her. She is willing to try new trails and travels at a good steady pace. She is curious and friendly to people, pets, and nature. She doesn’t dig holes to disturb animal homes.
She asks for help if something unusual comes up, such as going across plank boardwalks for the first time. Then she gets it very quickly and won’t ask for help with the same obstacle again. It’s all part of each new adventure.
Warm days are nice, but Truffles isn’t daunted by rain or snow. We haven’t encountered a bear or moose yet, but I believe she would run to me for help.
After a good hike, she is still smiling and her tail is wagging, too. It’s her way of saying thanks for taking me—and when do we go again? What a joy to hike with such a dog: she brightens each day.
(posted June 7, 2016)