Getting to Know Your New Dog
Kevin Runolfson wanted a dog to walk. He adopted Rufus, a year-old, chocolate lab/Shar Pei mix at the Humane Society. Four months later they began hiking the Appalachian Trail together from Georgia to Maine.
Somehow they survived—the snakes, the rain, the terrible hell cows. Despite Rufus being afraid of snakes, the rain, and terrible hell cows.
Runolfson kept a journal of his trip and later published it as The Things You Find on the Appalachian Trail: A Memoir of Discovery, Endurance and a Lazy Dog. You’ll find my full review, Longest Dog Walk Ever: The Appalachian Trail, at A Traveler’s Library.
But here at Something Wagging, I’m most interested in the human/canine bond and how to strengthen it. Kevin and Rufus have a strong bond when we meet them in this book. And they’re still hiking together today, ten years later.
Would a long walk with your dog bring you closer together? If you’re attracted to the idea of taking your dog on a big adventure, you might want to ask yourself some questions.
Questions to Ask Before Dragging Your Dog Up a Mountain
Runolfson probably should have asked these questions before hitting the trail with Rufus. But I’m glad he didn’t. Or they might not have had an adventure to share with us.
Does my dog like to hike?
I get the feeling Rufus would have been happy hiking up onto the couch. But what makes him even happier is being with his person. When given a choice, Rufus prefers to hike by Kevin’s side.
Am I willing and able to carry my dog over obstacles he won’t/can’t cross?
At the beginning of the hike, Rufus refuses to climb over fallen trees, walk through water, or cross bridges. Runolfson has to carry him. Eventually, Rufus gains confidence and manages to conquer most of his early fears.
Can my dog carry his own supplies?
For the most part, Rufus carried his own food. But when it was too hot or the dog started chafing from the pack, Runolfson had to carry the dog’s pack along with his own.
Will my dog be frightened by things we find on the trail?
Rufus’s scary things list was pretty long: campfires, rain, thunder, lightning, bridges, streams, cows (hey, those bad girls can be tough!), being left alone… Well, you get the picture.
Can I keep my dog safe and healthy?
Of the more than 2000 people who try to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one season, only a quarter make it. Many get sick or injured. Most just get exhausted.
Runolfson took on a big responsibility by bringing Rufus along. He did a great job keeping his friend healthy.
And, toward the end of the trip, when Rufus’s paws were showing the results of miles of rocky climbs, Runolfson took him off the trail immediately.
Fascinated by the Appalachian Trail
I’ve read many memoirs by people who have hiked the trail. I’ve fantasized about being one of them.
But until I get the courage to walk the trail barefoot (I am incredibly sensitive to blistering in any kind of shoe after only three miles or so), I’ll enjoy the trail through the experiences of others.
If you like traveling alongside a good writer, you’ll enjoy Kevin Runolfson’s account. I did.
And, if you’re lucky, you might win the copy of the book donated by McFarland publishing. Use the Rafflecopter below for many chances to win the prize.
Would a six month adventure make you and your dog even closer? Or, if you asked her to carry her own food up and down the Appalachian range, would she bite you and run away?
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: The publisher sent me a PDF of this book for my review at my request. They also provided the book for this giveaway. My opinions are my own and to stay honest, I’m giving away the book.
The book link is to Amazon. If you buy it there, I will get a small commission. Thank you for supporting Something Wagging This Way Comes.