Chihuahua On the Trail

Last-Minute Change of Plans

I have a chihuahua named Chip who is by my side every moment of every day. He goes to work with me, restaurants, bars, doctor’s appointments, movie theaters, on airplanes, road trips, and even a thru-hike.  Last fall I took him on the 274-mile Long Trail in Vermont. He loves hiking and camping and he scaled the rocks of Mount Mansfield better than I did.

But the PCT is different. Five months is a long time to be on the road, in the wilderness, new places, new faces, away from home. I knew if I brought him it would no longer be my hike, it would be his. I would have to carry all his food, water, and gear since he’s too small to carry anything. I would also have to carry him any time he didn’t want to hike for any reason, including if that means carrying him for all 2,650 miles. He’s small,  7lbs 10oz. But that’s 3.5 liters of water. Ask any thru-hiker, that’s a lot.

In the end…

I thought it would be best if he stayed with my parents. I knew he would be OK without me for 5 months, but I wasn’t sure if I could be without him. Then, at 10 pm the night before my flight, six hours before I had to be out the door, I had a complete panic attack. I don’t mean hyperbole the most way people say panic attack. I mean a medical panic attack. The next thing I knew I was on the bus to the airport while on the phone with the airline booking Chip on my flight.

I very much hope that in writing this post I will not receive a negative response. I am not here asking for advice or opinions. This is my blog and I am letting you know what is going on in my life and on the trail. Chip is on the trail.  He has already brought so much joy and happiness to hikers missing their dogs. He is also doing very well and he will stay on the trail as long as he continues to do well. Once again this is his hike. His health and happiness are of the utmost importance. The moment he isn’t thriving, we’ll get off the trail. There is no other option. But as long as he’s doing as well as he is now, he’ll continue on with me. I hope to see you out there! Oh, and if you see him, his trail name is Dirt Devil.

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Comments 24

  • Avatar
    Cat Adams : Apr 25th

    I love it that you have your tough pup along on the trail. Can’t wait to see more posts as you two make progress❣️🦴

    Reply
    • Jennifer Foster
      Jennifer Foster : May 2nd

      Thanks so much for the encouragement!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Shauna Spellman : May 3rd

        He is so precious
        Glad he is with you!

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Dulcigirl : Apr 25th

    Looking forward to reading more about your journey with Dirt Devil! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer Foster
      Jennifer Foster : May 2nd

      🐶😃

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Bruce Hall : Apr 25th

    You’ve obviously thought this through. The hike belongs to you and Chip, no one else. I hope you and Dirt Devil make it all the way. Happy Trails.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Dorothy and Toto : Apr 26th

    So happy you included your pup! He’ll definitely add to your hike and look forward to reading about it!

    Reply
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    Nick and Kween : Apr 26th

    LOVE THIS! I do a lot of camping and backpacking on the Easy Coast and am amazed at how many people snark when they see my chuawwow running along beside me. My friends and family have finally stopped questioning her ability and marvel at how much energy she still has at the end of each day. Right on Dirt Devil.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    pearwood : Apr 27th

    You do what you have to do. Hang in there.

    Reply
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    Respect the Rules : Apr 29th

    There will be sections that do not allow dogs. There are many legitimate reasons for this. Hopefully you set a responsible example and send the pup home once you arrive at the first “No Dogs” section.

    Too many people can falsely justify to themselves why the rules shouldn’t apply to their specific case. Hopefully you don’t fall into that.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Carolyn Roman : Apr 30th

      LOL… Can’t there ever be a post without 1 troll coming out of the woodwork?

      It’s a pleasure to share in this journey with you and Chip. The love and compassion you show Chip, is indicative of your heart and soul.
      I wish we lived in a world with less trolls and more Chips.

      God bless your journey. 🙏❤️

      Reply
    • Avatar
      RP : May 1st

      I was wondering the same. I am working to do the PCT in a few years and, in fact, decided to put it off for a few more after that because I don’t have anyone to care for my dogs if I’m gone for that long. They have a boarding kennel that they love going to and the staff is super awesome – especially with my formerly abused rescue. She loves going there (sometimes I think better than being home with me! 😉 ). But for five months?

      I just don’t think that’s a good idea for them. That long and I’m sure they would feel abandoned.

      But I also heard many places on the trail is, for whatever idiotic reason, “no dogs” (I expect some of it has to do with California’s collectively diagnosible and rampantly idiotic fear of dogs).

      So reading a few of these posts have had me wondering about that policy, and if it’s true, how the author expects to get around that?

      Reply
    • Jennifer Foster
      Jennifer Foster : May 2nd

      Of course I am well aware of all the rules and regulations and I am complying 100%. I wouldn’t have brought him otherwise. Thanks for your concern.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        RP : May 10th

        My question is how you’re managing to bring Chip and do the hike? I would love to bring my dog along and not worry about the alternatives.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Bess : Apr 30th

    “respect the rules” I am sorry, but, why would she need a lecture in rule respecting… She is a seasoned hiker, perhaps you should reread her blog and look up some of the words in the dictionary ma… Awesome Dirt Devil, embrace, this journey completely I think that Dirt Devil and yourself are inherent this hike is both of you, stay safe be well XOXO

    Reply
    • Jennifer Foster
      Jennifer Foster : May 2nd

      Thanks 😊❤🙂

      Reply
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    Mona : Apr 30th

    Check out the muscles on this tough guy, WOW!

    What a cutie, here’s hoping y’all have a fantastic time on your trip. Sounds like fun.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Trail Legs : May 1st

    I too am planning to hike PCT in 2022 with my 2 year old Norwegian Elkhound. I saw the reasons for not allowing pets; disrupting wildlife within certain parks, disrupting vegetation, etc. But does this rule apply to highly trained dogs ie; K9/Service certified dogs? (My reason being I’m perfectly fine keeping him on lead even though he has perfect recall as well as hauling his poop -when he knows it’s time when he can evacuate.) And if there is no work around, does circumnavigating the park ruin the qualifications for the Thru-hike completion via the association? Ie; will I be missing sign-off registries?

    Also good luck on trail! I’ll be following Dirt-Devils and your progress!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Foster
      Jennifer Foster : May 2nd

      There’s no real rules for what counts as an ‘official’ thru hike for the PCTA. Many people skip sections, compete them later or not at all. It’s really a do whatever you want sort of thing, no one can judge you for hiking what makes sense for you. With all the fire and other closures, no one can truly hike the entire ‘official’ PCT anyways 🤷🏼‍♀️

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Teresa Johnson : May 1st

    My only concern is he doesn’t end up being a treat for a wild animal ie, cougar, coyotes etc. We had happened upon a coyote mid day on our horses with our two border collies with us. He had given us a wide berth, and we passed without incident. A bit later, we ran into another rider who remarked about our companion. We looked behind us, and the coyote had been following us! Good thing our dogs were close to the horses and that is what kept him from attacking them.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Foster
      Jennifer Foster : May 2nd

      Thanks for the heads up. That’s why he’s always right next to me, I don’t cowboy camp, etc. Doing my best to stay safe for everyone out here.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Tom : May 2nd

    You are lucky to have a smaller dog, I have to drive everywhete.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    AR : May 4th

    Thank you for sharing this! I will definitely be following your hike. I have a slightly larger chihuahua-terrier mix (10lb) and I’m planning an AT hike next year with her joining me on the southern half. It isn’t cheap or light, but I ended up getting a Ruff Rescue harness for when she refuses to walk. It’s much more comfortable than carrying her and fits well even with my pack on.

    Best of luck to you both and thanks for sharing. Small dogs hike too!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Denise : May 5th

    You and Chip are awesome!! Gives me hope to take our Chihuahua/terrier mix on a hiking adventure. Thanks for sharing!!❤

    Reply

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