Excerpt From “My Girl Vaida”: Part Hiking Adventure, Part Puppy Love Story

My Girl Vaida, written by Caitlin Quinn, is the story of Caitlin and her dog Vaida, the bright-eyed lab mix puppy she adopts and takes along on her adventures. Moving from interesting workplace to workplace and from trail to trail, they continue to pursue one of their favorite pastimes: hiking.

Along their journey to the tops of all 4,000-foot mountains in New England, and up and down the Appalachian Trail in the Northeast, they travel long distances, meet a rich cast of characters, and manage to help and be helped in lovely ways by friends, fellow hikers, and even complete strangers.

Part love story, part hiking adventure, Vaida and Caitlin’s bond and inspirational tale is a reminder that transformation and change can come from the most unexpected places.

You can grab a copy of My Girl Vaida: An Adventurous Hiker, Her Big Yellow Dog, and Their Everlasting Bond on Caitlin’s website www.mygirlvaida.com, as well as all major online retailers. 

Caitlin’s Instagram: @cmquinn

An excerpt from My Girl Vaida

I own nearly nothing, and I love to carry everything I need on my back in a tiny little backpack, but I carry a huge story to tell in my heart—a story that’s still in the making.

I’m a lover, an adventurer, a make-no-plans-er, a see-what-happens-er. I’m a thirty-eight-year-old kid who likes to adventure out of a thirty-liter backpack and sleep in the dirt. I’ve chosen to live life differently. I don’t care about the haves and have-nots. I seek the what-ifs. 

I am not a writer. I am a thinker and a believer. People love the stories I tell, but that’s just what I do. I tell stories and create memories, laughter, and “What the hecks?!” I can capture these moments through spoken word, and I know I can draw people in when I tell them, but I wasn’t sure if I could write them. I wasn’t sure if I could draw people in with written words the way I can with face-to-face storytelling. Despite this, I set out to document the legacy of Vaida—the world’s best yellow dog and most loyal companion—in written form as a way for me to look back when I’m eighty years old and smile and say to myself, What a life we led! But also, What was I thinking?! It’s a way for me to share our wild and adventurous life and hopefully inspire a few.

None of this would have been possible without twelve-and-a-half years of Vaida by my side. With Vaida, I was truly never alone. I was never scared, never bored, and was always supported by her unconditional love for me as I in turn gave the same love and support to her.

Vaida was my adventure partner, my best friend, my partner in crime. She was my soulmate. My other half. She was who I spent my entire day with no matter what I was doing. She was who I kissed every night and said, “I love you, sweet girl.” And on the rare occasion I did leave her side, I told her, “I love you more than all of the stars in the sky. I’ll think about you the entire time that I’m gone.”

I never worried about what people thought about me, my crazy life, or my sometimes questionable decisions, because in the end, I had Vaida. Always by my side, she was impossible not to love. Maybe it was her giant yellow hundred-pound frame that, despite its size, radiated a peaceful, gentle care and compassion, or her bright yellow eyes that looked straight into your heart and stole it as she stretched out her big yellow paw to show you she was there. Her presence breathed a calm, a sigh of relief, not just to me but to everyone she encountered. Vaida was my everything, and sometimes I think we somehow meant everything to a lot of other people. Vaida touched lives, and she helped me do the same.

During the writing process, when I was feeling a little stressed about the whole project, my mom asked me, “What do you do when you are faced with a challenge or difficult climb when you’re hiking?”

I looked at her and said, “I deal with it. I buckle down and get through it. I look at it as something I know I can overcome.”

I am stubborn, riddled with strength, grit, and determination. So I powered through the book, and now you’re holding our story in your hands. The details of our story are as I remember them, told from my perspective, and may not exactly align with the memories of others. The conversations I recall are not verbatim but are my best recollection of what was said in that particular moment. While the precise words may now escape me, the memories of the twelve-and-a-half years Vaida and I spent together, attached at the hip, never fade.

Vaida truly lived a beautiful, arguably unrivaled life, and I wanted to see that story come alive on paper. I hope that when you read this book, you can understand what a remarkable dog she was, what an amazing journey we had together, and will be inspired to find your own source of life-altering transformation. And I hope that if you have ever lost anyone who meant the world to you, you will be able to find healing within.

—Caitlin (and Vaida)

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?