Cardigan’s Guide to Trail Running and Hiking for Dogs

This is what you should
look like at the end
of a good trail run.
Hi, it’s Cardigan here. Keith won’t let me go outside (he seems to think that lying panting in the sun on the hottest day of the year is a bad thing – silly man), so I’ve taken over the computer. He took me for a very nice trail run this morning (he has his faults – he drops things a LOT, is occasionally loud, and his taste in music leaves a lot to be desired – but he does have some good qualities) and it got me thinking that some of my furry friends might need advice on trail running or hiking. Here are the key things I’ve learned:
  • It’s important to drink lots of water, but don’t rely on your owner. He/she is likely to bring a bottle of clean tap water. This is no good. It lacks the nutritional supplements found in mud puddles or murky pools. Ignore the proffered water and drink the scummy water instead. Yum!
  • Speaking of scummy water, make sure you run through every single mud puddle, stream and pond, even if it takes you out of your way. They may all look the same but trust me: each one has unique smells.
  • To cool off thoroughly, find a nice swampy pool or puddle – the stinkier and muddier the better – and go for full body coverage: if it’s not deep enough, put your face into it and then wiggle on your back. Don’t worry if they threaten to tie you to the roof of the car on the way home: unless their name is Mitt Romney, it’s just a bluff.
  • Although the woods may look benign, there are evil predators out there. For this reason, it’s really important to disguise yourself. Rolling in dead animal carcasses or horse manure fulfills this purpose nicely.
  • You may occasionally encounter other dogs in the woods. Make sure you put them to the test. Force them to chase you in circles through the rockiest, narrowest, scrubbiest parts of the woods. Don’t stop until you see a look of horror on your owner’s face.
  • Don’t chase birds. This is an obvious rookie mistake: they just fly away. Hold on to your dignity. Squirrels and chipmunks are an entirely different matter…
  • If you’re really lucky, your owner may someday take you near a beaver dam. “What’s the big deal about a beaver dam?” you might think. But you need to understand what a beaver dam is: sticks and mud, right on the edge of swampy water. In other words, it’s like a Ritz-Carlton for dogs.
  • It’s important to understand your owner’s words and put them in the proper context. For example, “Cardigan, come here” can means different things. If he or she is close by and holding a nice treat (cheese or meat – good; ordinary kibble – bad), then by all means, interpret this as “come” and join him/her. If you’re chasing something really good (such as squirrels) or investigating a fascinating new smell (such as a tree where another dog peed), then interpret this as “Keep doing whatever you’re doing.”
  • Don’t take this too far, however: if he/she starts saying things like “That’s it, I’m abandoning you to the wolves” or (far worse) “I’m replacing you with a cat,” then it’s time to get serious and come back.
  • When returning after such an expedition, don’t forget that you are, in their eyes, completely adorable. Sit nicely, perk up your ears, and try to look like the sweet creature you were when they first adopted you.
  • Show your joy and abandon whenever possible. This is the life! Remember that every time your owner sees you bounding up the trail and over tree limbs, happy as a clam, you are bringing more joy into his or her life than you will ever know!


2 replies

  1. Your posting above (plus the lovely margarita my husband just made) is exactly what I need after a very long day at work! Thanks for a smile. Geri

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