We have a dog named Moo Moo. He is so named for the reddish-brown, cow-like spots in his coat. He’s an Australian Shepherd who is around 5 years old. He’s gentle, good-natured, and rather obedient. He barks when he thinks we’re being threatened, but not just because. He loves to be near us and will often sit under my desk at home when I’m working.
But, what Moo Moo really loves is trail hiking. The outdoors is his natural bailiwick whether in the field or in the forest. Physically, I think he’s really built for trail hiking. He’s got powerful hind legs that make it possible for him to get up the side of a hill like a mountain goat. And this past weekend, he did that a lot!
We took him out to the Eagle Rock Loop. We didn’t do the entire loop due to time, but we did about 18 miles of some of its more strenuous parts. You can read more about it here.
At first, I was worried that he’d go running off after something and get lost. However, we left him off the leash for the entire hike, except when we ran across other dogs on the trail. So, according to his nature, he did run off frequently. But, we’d call him and eventually he’d come back. Finally, we got tired of calling him so much and pretty much stopped. He did so well. We were super happy with his trail behavior.
One of his favorite things on this trip was to cool down in the streams. This is typical of Moo Moo whenever he finds water that he can get in. He’ll just plop in and have a drink. There were plenty of places for him to do this on this hike.
Sleeping arrangements were great. On our first night, we tried hammock camping. It didn’t go well for us. It was very cold. I was worried about Moo Moo, even though we made a tent for him, he didn’t want to get in it.
I eventually coaxed him into the hammock with me. When I called him up, he got his front paws up on me, and kind of huffed. I reached down with one arm and scooped up his hind quarters and rotated him up.
We tried a number of positions, but eventually we settled into him laying down the side of me my arm around him. The next evening, we pitched a tarp shelter and slept on the ground. He went right between us and helped to kept us toasty warm.
After the first full day of hiking, he was ready for a nap. He usually naps a lot during the day, so a full day of hiking exhausted him. While Erika and I hiked a few steep hills using the trails, Moo Moo would blaze straight up the side at a dead sprint. Then, he’d come back down and do it again. That exhausted him pretty well and he wanted to go to bed really early when we pitched camp.
By day three, he was tired enough to stay on the trail with us when it was steep on the sides. But, while we were on flat territory, he wandered off the trail to sniff and hunt. Moo Moo always wants to scout ahead, not content to stay between us.
That’s ok with us though. Because he’s Moo Moo, the Marvelous Trail Dog.