Bye, Boo.

Why I sent my best friend home.

Radley has hiked over 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail with me, but yesterday I chose to send her home. This was the hardest decision I’ve had to make on trail thus far and it was well thought out. I’ve said from the beginning of this journey that as long as Radley is wagging her tail, she is welcome to keep hiking with me. She was still wagging her tail most of the time, but after a tough climb in 90 plus degree heat I knew it was going to be harder on her than I originally thought.

Heat

It’s hot out there…and the summer is just beginning.

Radley, like most dogs, is always trying to please her owner. While hiking, she will go for miles without water or a break and look at me like she’s failed when she finally lays down for a break. On the days where we pass multiple streams the trail seems to be no challenge to Radley. On the other hand, there are days where we cross hardly any water sources and those days are the toughest on my pup. The truth of the trail is that the days of copious amounts of water are few and far between.

Pace

This dog would go all the way to Katahdin doing 20+ mile days with me if I’d let her. I know she is capable of going all the way, but why push her? I do not want to push my dog beyond her limits and her limits have been met. If ten mile days on flat terrain were a possibility, Radley would be by my side the whole way. Her pace is decent, but an 18 mile day takes us about 13 hours, which is just too long of a day for both of us.

Twenty mile days are just too much for her, though she would argue with me if she could talk.

Ticks

Tick season is here, y’all and it’s going to be a bad one. Radley has not had one tick on her before we started trail. Since starting trail, I have pulled off more than fifty ticks off of my dog. Radley does take a flea and tick medicine that is technically working, because the ticks I do find on her are usually dead. However, she was picking up 5-10 ticks per day. Though Radley has a Lyme disease vaccine, I do not. She is always close to me and sleeps in the same tent (and on cold nights in the same sleeping bag) as I do. This puts me at a higher risk of getting ticks and contracting Lyme.

Because I am finding so many ticks on her, I always feel that I am missing at least one. She seems to let me know by licking or scratching the area where a tick is located. However, Radley has alot of fur and it seems impossible to find and remove each tick that has attached itself to my dog.

Boo Radley on the AT

Radley hiked from Springer to Fontana Dam with me and then returned to trail at Carver’s Gap and hiked all the way until the Tye River before leaving. I am so lucky to have parents that have volunteered to care for my girl while I finish this journey. Though Radley is leaving, she hiked several hundred miles of the AT and had a blast.

Radley’s highlights during her last couple of weeks:

You are 86.4% more likely to get a hitch if you have a pup by your side. Fact.

Radley did not understand Grayson Highlands.

600 miles!

Radley and her boyfriend, Porter, share an ice cream at trail days. Photo Credit: Marie Sellenrick (owner of Groundbird Gear)

Radley is so proud of herself every time the pack comes on. Photo Credit: Marie Sellenrick (owner of Groundbird Gear)

Radley swam in, but rode out of “the Captain’s place.”

Radley and I lunch under the 2nd largest oak tree on the AT.

Radley and I at McAfee knob.

Tinker cliffs.

This was not an easy decision, but I think it is the right decision for both me and Radley. She is a wonderful hiking companion and she has absolutely made this experience amazing. Her and I have bonded over the past 2 months in a way I didn’t know I ever could with a dog. She is my best friend and the rest of my journey will be lonelier without her little wiggly butt next to me. However, I can pick up my pace and finish the trail to be with her sooner. I’m sure she will enjoy her time relaxing in the a/c and going on daily jogs with my parents.

Radley laying on my pack, because she knew I was going to hike without her.

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Comments 7

  • Avatar
    Gary : Jun 19th

    Sorry to see your hiking partner go 🙁 I look forward to updates. Gary #AT2017

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Hikinfool : Jun 19th

    It’s nice (and rare) to read a post from a responsible and thoughtful pet owner. Good Going!!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Diane harsha : Jun 19th

    Maturity is putting another’s wellbeing before your own.
    Regards
    Sticks.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    lora davis : Jun 22nd

    Sweet. You have memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life. What Sticks said^^. 🙂

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Steven Cohen - Philadelphia PA : Jun 22nd

    My hat is off to you for taking your pup with you… and for sending her home. I am sure she was quit a comfort and had a great time. I think you are right about her wanting to please you. I used to have the same concern for my Bella, she was getting older and I would take breaks just so she could rest and get some water. I was only doing day hikes, but I didn’t want to push her on the really hot days. Enjoy the Rest of your Hike and enjoy your reunion when you hit Mount Katahdin. Bye the way I was just on a section of the AT, north of Port Clinton, Pa. this last weekend. I am envious. I am glad you are taking this opportunity while you can.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Bob : Jun 24th

    Great decision, outstanding concern for your best buddy. She will have memories of the 600 miles that she will be dreaming of for a long time. Not too many K9s get that luxury ever. Well done!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Tracey : Jul 1st

    For you and others that may read this who hike with their pups, make sure you use K9 Advantix . Its the only tick preventative out there right now that kills ticks BEFORE they bite. It won’t necessarily get all of them but most will die of contact with the dog’s hair coat before biting. Once they bite it can take as little as 10 min to transmit disease. Don’t believe the 48 hr myth. Wear Permethrin treated clothes and “Repel” Citrus/Eucalyptus repellant is top rated for ticks. Stay safe! This can be a life altering disease if you don’t catch it fast!

    Reply

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