Small dogs often get a bad rap. They’re seen as yappy and lap-oriented, not as “real” somehow as larger breeds, especially when it comes to outdoor activities.
As the companion of a little pup with a big personality, I’m working on changing that stereotype.
For my next pet travel book club selection I chose Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship, which details the alpine adventures of a miniature schnauzer (Note: the club meets two weeks from today, December 8 — start reading if you want to be in on winning a signed copy). And today’s guest blogger, Jessica Rae, is here to prove that the even shorter-legged can hike too.
One note from Jessica before I turn the blog over to her.
I know I spelled weiner “wrong” and that the proper spelling is WIEner. That IS how I spell it though and not a typo.
I didn’t ask why. Poetic license. I observed her spelling throughout the post and in its title.
Have a great Thanksgiving! I hope this post inspires you to hike after your big dinner — or, alternatively, to raise a glass to Chester and Gretel and Atticus and all dogs, great and small, for whom we are thankful.
Guess which one I’m opting for?
Like many people in the Northwest, my fiancé and I climb mountains with our dogs. Nevertheless, people really notice us wherever we go, especially when we hike in the snow.
That’s because our dogs, Chester and Gretel, are miniature Dachshunds.
I love the outdoors so I started bringing little Chester hiking with me when he was a puppy. I was absolutely amazed at how well he did and how much he loved it. I didn’t expect a little dog to be capable of a significant hike. I started taking him on steeper, longer hikes and he was always up for the challenge. Thus began our ten year hiking career.
A few years ago I met my now fiancé. He wasn’t sure what to think about a girl who owned one of those “little dogs” but was immediately blown away at how great of a hiker Chester was. Together, we adopted our second miniature Dachshund, Gretel, last year. We figured it was sink or swim to fit in with this family so the first hike we took her on was four miles uphill in the snow. She took to it like a fish to water and she has been an avid hiker ever since.
To us, hiking with miniature Dachshunds, or small dogs in general, is normal, but I am reminded all of the time how impossible it seems to some people.“How did they get up here?” “Did you carry them?” “How can those short legs carry them up the mountain?” “You mean that little guy can actually keep up?” Each time we hear those questions, we have to assure people that, “Yes, they really DID make it up here by themselves,” “Yes, they out hike us the whole way up the mountain.”
We’re not the only ones who get that reaction, of course. I just finished reading a book called Following Atticus about a miniature Schnauzer and his person, Tom Ryan. They climbed all 48 4,000-foot peaks of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and Atticus encountered a lot of disbelief out on the trails.
Take, for example, the time Tom and Atticus hiked to the top of Mt. Washington. They were sitting there eating their lunch when eight men decked out in full climbing gear showed up. The men had just conquered the summit and were horrified to find that a small dog had beaten them to the top! One guy asked in breathless disbelief, “You and that little dog just walked up HERE?”
We have hiked hundreds of peaks over 4,000 feet. We get out at least one day a week to hike, more if we can. Our longest hike was 15 miles. We climbed up and over Marmot Pass, which has an elevation of 5,000 feet, and back with Chester in one day.
One of our steepest hikes was up Mount Si. The trail climbs about 3,200 feet in four miles to an almost 4,000 foot peak. Mount Si is one of the more difficult hikes in the area and is used by people training to climb the summit of Mount Rainier! There is a jagged rock at the top that you have to scramble up to reach the summit. Chester and Gretel had no problem pulling themselves up the rocks and navigating the ledges.
We continue to enjoy some of our favorite hikes through the winter snow too. We hiked five miles in the snow this past weekend and, once we get our snow legs back, plan to take longer and longer hikes throughout the winter.
We may not be famous for hiking mountains like Atticus — yet! I’ve only been blogging about our adventures for a year — but we have been following our weiner dogs up mountains and doing our part to disprove stereotypes for a long time.
Bio: Jessica Rae lives in the outdoor Mecca of Seattle and regularly hikes with her two weiner dogs, Chester and Gretel. She shares stories of their adventures, hiking tips and product reviews on her blog, YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner.com