Chester and Gretel on Mount Si

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.

Nimble Gretel

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.”

Homeward bound. It's a long way down!

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.

Marmot Pass (look closely and you'll see the mile marker)

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?”

Mount Si scramble

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.

Let it snow!

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.

Aren't we the chic snow bunnies, um, puppies!

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,


25 thoughts on “Following Chester & Gretel: Weiner Dogs Can Hike Too!”

  1. Who knew two little dogs could go on such big adventures? I never expected to see two dachshunds hiking in the mountains. They make me feel pretty lazy, I have to say. Thanks for linking to their blog. I am excited to check them out!

    And a very happy Thanksgiving to you and Frankie. I hope he is feeling well enough to enjoy the holiday!

    1. Thanks, Kristine! Think of all the turkeys you’ve (collectively) saved today by being Canadian 😉

      And oh yes, Frankie is on the mend, thanks so much for asking. His digestive system looked a little scary for a while but today his inner Frankie is getting closer to matching his perky demeanor.

  2. good idea to go for a hike or at least a waltz after the turkey! I loved my neighbor’s dachsund Hansel when I was about 6 years old. I used to go visit him. His owner, an older widower, had a vegetable garden and gave me giant tomatoes to take home. I wouldn’t eat them because they didn’t come from the A&P in cellophane.

    1. That’s so funny about Hansel’s owner and the tomatoes! What silly — brainwashed? — children we were. I never wanted the wonderful clothing my mother made; I wanted only the store bought stuff!

  3. Three cheers for Frankie’s recovery and for wiener dogs! I have two “tweenie” Dachshunds (between mini and standard). Danny Quinn is a short haired chocolate and tan double dapple with blue eyes (wish I could send you a photo; yes, his coloring is acceptable and show-able but not breed-able – he is neutered anyway) – he is an adventurous homebody: wants warmth, comfort, a chance to explore and be nosy but poops out on walks by plopping over on his side “I’m done!” Seymour PH, on the other hand, is an Earth dog; I regularly pull him out of rain filling holes as he works his way to China; any house mice quickly learn to steer clear (and out of the house – sigh) – Seymour would be up for hiking. These Doxies are wonderful – heading over to their blog right now.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    1. Your doxies sound like quite the characters! I love their names and your descriptions of their personalities (especially the plopping over on his side)!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

  4. I love this post as a hiker, a dog lover, and as a fan of not judging a book by its cover. I think that we bipeds have a tendency to underestimate the mechanical advantage of a low center of gravity.

  5. Thanks for letting us share our story with everyone! We went our for another snow hike yesterday (we celebrate our Thanksgiving early).

    As for the spelling….we like to say our team puts the WE in WEiner. Ha, ha.

    1. It was my pleasure! It was so much fun to have a visit from your adventurous cuties.

      And thank you for your explanation about the spelling of your blog’s name~

  6. I loved reading about these adventurous weiners (cute spelling decision). All dogs deserve to have doggie fun and it looks like Jessica is providing a great life for Chester and Gretel.

  7. We’ve become big fans of Chester and Gretel! My only regret is that I hadn’t yet found Jess’ blog when we were in Seattle earlier this year. It would have been great to meet these adventurous pooches in person.

    1. I can’t recall if I found them through your or through I agree, those two pooches would be fun to meet.

  8. My favorite hiking WEiners (well, for that matter, favorite hiking dogs)! Amazing testament to what our dogs can and will do, if we just give them a chance. Nice post, Jessica!

  9. Small dogs have great spirits, looking at that picture of Gretel climbing is a fantastic sight.
    I read “following Atticus” today, what a – biting my lip not to spark any discussion before the 6th – story … Glad I joined your book club!

    1. The fact that you read “Following Atticus” in one day — assuming that’s what you meant by “today” — is telling in itself. I’m glad you joined the book club, too!

  10. Wow, I’m impressed. I’m always telling people that dachshunds aren’t lapdogs.

    They are strong and feisty with great heart and loyalty built into an adorable package.

    Chester and Gretel will never get overweight from lack of exercise, congratulations!


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  12. We do tend to forget that the terriers and dachshunds were bred for various forms of hunting, what with them being so cute and all. I read once that dachshunds are even used to hunt wild boar. The dog flushes out the annoyed pig, then hides in the bushes where he/she can’t be reached by the prey! My first smooth fox terrier came from a kennel (Raybill) that regularly appears in the geneaologies of Westminster Kennel Club show winners and placers. But the breeder told me that half their dogs went to ranches in eastern Washington for rodent control! When I had mice in the house this year I tried to explain the concept to my pointer and dachscorgi. They looked at me.

  13. I just started hiking with my mini doxie and this is really inspirational! She loves hiking! Thanks for a wonderful post!!

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