Gals and Dogs

31 Mar
One of the many challenges Emily and I have taken on with our AT venture is the inclusion of our two dogs, Chille and Georgy.  These four legged life partners have been our trail side kicks for years and it is hard for us to imagine this kind of undertaking without them.  My dog Georgy (also known as Bear) is almost 4 years old, in his prime doggie years.  I got him from the pound and quickly found out that he was born for the trail.  He immediately started coming on all my hikes and runs and has been by my side now for 3 years.  He has his faults (garbage eating and butt sniffing among them), but is an amazing companion and protector.   My enjoyment of the trail is doubled by seeing him run around and be free in the outdoors.

So when Emily and I started our trail planning we both assumed we would find tons of information on hiking the AT with dogs.  In our minds hikers and dog-people are often linked.  I have very rarely had negative experiences with other hikers or other dog owners on trail with Georgy.  However, in reality we found post after post of why dogs don’t belong on the AT and why no one should bring them.  One major web resource for AT hikers blatantly states that if you have a dog you are not allowed in ANY shelter along the trail.  They say that people with dogs need to camp separately from other hikers and restrain their dogs from coming near people.  I was absolutely shocked to read this.  In years of section hiking the Appalachian Trail I have never come across this kind of negative feedback or sentiment.

I wish I could say I have an answer to this problem we are going to face, but I really just wanted to let people know that we are acknowledging this issue.  We are doing our best to physically prepare our dogs with the same kind of training we do.  They come along on every hike or run that they can (unfortunately there are no doggie treadmills or ellipticals at our gym).  They have their own packs, will carry their own weight and will hopefully be great members of our foursome. My hope is that once we are on the trail our dogs will adapt to the lifestyle, and the reality of the trail community will be much friendlier than the online version.   However, we also want to do our best to not detract from other people’s trail experiences and to not impose our furry friends on them.  By going Southbound, against the crowds, we hope to skirt the issue a bit.  In the end though, it is all about what is best for both us and our canine pals.  So stay tuned!

One Response to “Gals and Dogs”

  1. Wilderness Escapades March 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    When our dog hiked with us on the AT, we went out of way to be courteous to other hikers. This meant keeping the dog on a leash at all times, getting the dog in to a healing position and off the trail when others approached, and keeping the dog away from water sources. Most of the time other hikers were very friendly towards the dog but it was clear that were some folks who were afraid of dogs.

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