Take My Dog For A Hike?

Gus, my seven-year-old, semi-trained Labradoodle, is coming along when I hike the Appalachian Trail.  That question was decided shortly after I decided to go and I realized we couldn’t be apart for six months.  Since my wife’s passing, he’s been my constant companion through the darkest places called Grief.  I figured if I could get him to Panama and back we could certainly handle any challenges we’d face on the AT.

I can just imagine his thoughts on the subject…..

“Wait a minute Bucko!  You want me to do what??!  I’m perfectly comfortable right where I am.  I get to kick back and relax most of the day.  This nice lady comes to take me for a walk and play with me.  You feed me.

Now you want me to hike 2000 miles with you??  You do realize that 5 million steps for you works out to about 20 million for me, right?  You see how short my legs are?!  And you want me to carry all this crap on my back as well.  Even my food!

Rain.  Thunderstorms.  You know I freak out when I’m inside and dry during thunderstorms.  How do you think I’m gonna react outside in the middle of one?!

Nope.  Not gonna do it.  Not gonna go, you son of a buck, dim witted, psycho nut job.”  

Yeah, I can just imagine.  All I can do is hope he’ll get infected with the sense of adventure when we head north from Springer.  And I’ve no doubt he’s going to let me know what he’s thinking along the way.

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Comments 8

  • Deb : Jan 6th

    Gus will learn to love every moment of it ( minus the thunder). He has enough energy to pull you BOTH through. Go Gus go!!!❤️

  • Ragnar : Jan 6th

    Will Gus be writing the blog? Cause he’s good!

    • Rob : Jan 6th

      I suspect he will. Very open about sharing his “thoughts” with me. Can’t wait to see what he had to say when we get on the Trail!

      • Elke : Nov 10th

        I plan hiking the Trail 2023 with my dog Tilli.
        Do you know which hostels allowed also dog ?
        Maybe you can write your expierence to me.
        Greetings from Germany

  • lindm0120 : Jan 6th

    Please make sure to check into booties for him. That long on rough rocks and terrain can damage his paw pads. Also be sure to look for other items to help keep him comfortable (flea/tick meds, multivitamins, etc) and rain gear for him too. Hopefully he will change his mind!

  • Rob : Jan 6th

    Lindmo120…got the booties, got the rain gear, will have the flea/tic extra strength ready. Thankfully he’s been really good about getting he harness and packs on. I’ve got a feeling he’s going to doing more blogs along the way!

  • WD : Jan 7th

    So after coming down from Dragons Tooth, there is a little gas station located a short walk from the trail. Many hikers stop for a pizza, and supplies. In 2021, when I got to that station I met a hiker w/dog in tow. She was just getting back on trail, after a short break for her injury, and was explaining her frustration with falling behind her tramily. She also told me that practically every dog was off the AT by DragonsTooth. Many due to injury or fatigue. Her dog was a tiny thing, so she often carried it in tough spots, including the decent off Dragons Tooth.

    Personally, I would never thruhike with a pet. There are many areas, especially up north, where that pet could easily die. I also don’t think many hikers really think-thru the physical toll on the pet. Some, you could just look at and tell where totally exhausted, and maybe even injured. Then there is the whole logistics thing with areas like the GSMNP, where pets are not allowed.

    Ultimately I wish you both well, and please pay extra attention to your pet.

  • Rob : Jan 7th

    WD…I appreciate your concerns and have a backup plan in place should Gus not be up to the challenge. I’m also aware of the logistical issues with GSMNP and Baxter. I plan to use the kennel/shuttle service for the Smokies which will give him a break. Have heard the “hike your own hike” mantra and plan to “hike Gus’s hike”.


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