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  1. #1
    Training in the Whites MtnDogHiker's Avatar
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    Default Bernese Mountain Dog on a thru-hike

    hey everyone! I'm currently training and planning for my 2011 SoBo thru-hike. I want to take my 3 Year old Bernese Mountain Dog with me so we are training in the whites all of this summer and into fall and winter. She is a natural hiker and automatically stays on the trail directly behind me at all times, she does not disturb wildlife and obeys my every command. I have hiked Cardigan; Moosilauke, and the Lafayette/Franconia ridge loop with her thus far. and she handled it great with her large mountain smith pack. I have heard only negative things said on this forum about dogs on the AT but i have not heard about any Bernese Mountain Dogs hiking the trail. Has anyone encountered them on a long hike?

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    I don't see how you can make many miles what with all the time it must take to brush your BMD.
    "It goes to show you never can tell." - Charles Edward Anderson Berry

  3. #3
    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    One of the most easygoing breeds. Should be a great companion on your SOBO hike.

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    Registered User cowboy nichols's Avatar
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    A Well trained owner and a well mannered dog is always welcome. I have hiked several decades always with a dog never had any problems Alway use a leash. Have a great hike with your friend.

  5. #5
    Registered User Omega Man's Avatar
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    There is this video on Youtube featuring a thru-hiker and his dog, Team Doggiebag if I'm recalling correctly ... The dog's name is Aldo, and he's a really great dog. Probably just as great as your dog is. Anyway, in this one video segment, it shows the hiker high atop this very rocky vista, both man and dog in high spirits, then, within ten minutes of the film segment being shot, Aldo finds a rattler...

    The following series of video entries document the ordeal in rather dramatic fashion, I recall the palpable feeling of uncertainty and concern that had creped into this normally stoic traveler's voice as the team double-timed it back down the mountain into town to find poor Aldo some medical attention (dog's head was swelling to the size of a casaba melon). I'm sure at some point, the hiker found himself wondering if hiking with his loyal companion was worth it.

    I won't spoil the ending of the story, I'm sure someone will offer the links to the videos in question, but my point is, would you want to chance your dog being bitten on the trail? In my neck of the woods, anti-venom is spendy, $1,200 per treatment. Food for thought...

    Personally, I'm torn about hiking sections of the AT with my Boxer. Part of me says this is exactly what a dog is for and then, there is this other side that thinks the trail is difficult enough without having to worry about your dog. As you know, hiking with an animal impedes your options. Plus, as you mentioned in your post, the majority of AT hikers are not exactly what I would call, "Pro-hiker Dog..."
    Better to dare mighty things, win glorious triumphs, than take rank with those who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

  6. #6
    Registered User Cool AT Breeze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omega Man View Post
    There is this video on Youtube featuring a thru-hiker and his dog, Team Doggiebag if I'm recalling correctly ... The dog's name is Aldo, and he's a really great dog. Probably just as great as your dog is. Anyway, in this one video segment, it shows the hiker high atop this very rocky vista, both man and dog in high spirits, then, within ten minutes of the film segment being shot, Aldo finds a rattler...

    The following series of video entries document the ordeal in rather dramatic fashion, I recall the palpable feeling of uncertainty and concern that had creped into this normally stoic traveler's voice as the team double-timed it back down the mountain into town to find poor Aldo some medical attention (dog's head was swelling to the size of a casaba melon). I'm sure at some point, the hiker found himself wondering if hiking with his loyal companion was worth it
    I won't spoil the ending of the story, I'm sure someone will offer the links to the videos in question, but my point is, would you want to chance your dog being bitten on the trail? In my neck of the woods, anti-venom is spendy, $1,200 per treatment. Food for thought...

    Personally, I'm torn about hiking sections of the AT with my Boxer. Part of me says this is exactly what a dog is for and then, there is this other side that thinks the trail is difficult enough without having to worry about your dog. As you know, hiking with an animal impedes your options. Plus, as you mentioned in your post, the majority of AT hikers are not exactly what I would call, "Pro-hiker Dog..."
    Here we go again. It's so dangerous out here we should just stay at home and watch nature shows.
    The trail is ever winding and the party moves every night.

  7. #7

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    I've rarely encountered Berners *anywhere*, let alone hiking! Beautiful, wonderful dogs.

    I assume as long as your Berner's healthy in heart, eyes, hips, and elbows, then I'd wager she'd be ok. Know your dog's limits. With a dog on the trail, it isn't "Hike Your Own Hike," it becomes "Hike Your Dog's Hike." She might need a zero on a day you're feeling up. You might opt to shave her before the hike, so the fur grows back as the season progresses into autumn and winter during the SOBO.

    And yes, most of the armchair hikers on this forum are anti-dog. Most people I have actually met on the trail are quite dog-friendly. I think a lot of the animosity is directed toward more inexperienced hikers and dog owners making rookie mistakes with their dogs. I personally love meeting dogs on the trail, but I just like critters (domestic, feral, or wild) in general.

  8. #8
    Training in the Whites MtnDogHiker's Avatar
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    right! I agree with you cool at. there are risks associated with everything. my dog could be as easily be injured at the park by an aggressive dog as she would be injured on the trail. at least on the trail she is performing the duty she was breed for and loves to do. what is life without risk. some things are hard to do. life is struggle. if you do not get out and risk it what is it all for, watching life pass you by or experiencing a false reality through a LCD screen.

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    I was surprised at how quickly a couple of my dogs paw pads were torn on a recent hike on the granite pile known as Bigelow Mtn in maine. Hes a mixed breed of border collie and golden retriever for whatever thats worth and is more accustomed to walking on grass and soft woods. It was only a day hike but he came out limping and dragging ass some. torn pads from abrasions.
    There are some areas out there that are really hard on dogs pads. The whites and some of maines rocky peaks come to mind. Grainte is course stuff for a barefoot dog.
    But conditioning may help toughen the pads.
    That would be my concern besides the occasional Porcupine.
    Worth reading this link on caring for and reducing paw pads injuries.

    Good luck, break her in easy.....
    WALK ON

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    Registered User boarstone's Avatar
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    Think feet--paws--trail tears them up fast...
    Do one thing everyday...that makes you happy...

  11. #11
    Registered User shelterbuilder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodsy View Post
    I was surprised at how quickly a couple of my dogs paw pads were torn on a recent hike on the granite pile known as Bigelow Mtn in maine. Hes a mixed breed of border collie and golden retriever for whatever thats worth and is more accustomed to walking on grass and soft woods. It was only a day hike but he came out limping and dragging ass some. torn pads from abrasions.
    There are some areas out there that are really hard on dogs pads. The whites and some of maines rocky peaks come to mind. Grainte is course stuff for a barefoot dog.
    But conditioning may help toughen the pads.
    That would be my concern besides the occasional Porcupine.
    Worth reading this link on caring for and reducing paw pads injuries.

    Good luck, break her in easy.....
    There are several reputable companies that make "doggie booties" to reduce the possibility of pad-abrasion injuries. Not all dogs will take kindly to having "stuff" tied/taped onto their paws (yes, I've known some dogs that needed to have them duct-taped on -- NO, not to the fur; around the top of the booty!), but they are a GREAT way to keep paws safe from sharp rocks and crusty snow. Check at www.sleddogcentral.com for some of the manufacturers. Get the heaviest ballistic nylon cloth booties that you can find; fleece will not hold up.

    As for rattlesnakes, porcupines, other hazardous critters -- KEEP ALERT, and keep the dog on a short leash at all times. They are naturally curious, and it can be their undoing.
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning how to dance in the rain!

  12. #12
    Training in the Whites MtnDogHiker's Avatar
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    Thanks a bunch guys. i will definitely look into the doggie booties and other paw pad protection. she has some massive paws .

  13. #13

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    A real good test for the dog it the Jefferson to Madison traverse. (Caps ridge to Gulfside to Pine Link or the Daniel Webster scout trail If the dogs paws hold up on that section, they will hold up to most any section. More than few dogs have bween carried down from this area due to worn otu pads. Booties are great if the dog will use them. If you plan to use them buy 3 or four sets as the tend to disappear.

  14. #14

    Default Bmd

    I am currently at home healing from a broken ankle that happened on my thru this year. I am hoping to get back out there but thought I would share my thoughts. When I was planning my hike I was convinced to take my Flatcoated Retriever with me. He has been hiking with me for 7 years and is a great hiker.Most everyone advised against it but I was convinced. He is well trained. So I took him on a 3 day AT hike in January. I have to say others were correct. The biggest problem is you can't use the shelters and most of the time that is where you will want to be. Even hikers who normally tent will use the shelters when it rains.Thru hiking is one of the most physical and mentally challenging thing you will probably ever do and you need all of your energies focused on finishing. Having a dog will change that. Others have done it and you could to but it will make a challenging ordeal into an even greater task. I love dogs but for me mine was better not going. Good luck.

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    Is it possible to take your dog with you for the whole AT? I've read that there are certain areas off limits to dogs?

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    Registered User Phreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.J. View Post
    Is it possible to take your dog with you for the whole AT? I've read that there are certain areas off limits to dogs?
    No. They aren't allowed in Baxter State Park or the Smokys.

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    Default heat intolerant

    Hey Omega Man; checkout some sites with info on Boxers and tolerance to heat. I have a Boxer/Sharpei mix mut. Real friendly and easy to train but when it gets hot she shuts down. Boxers are supposed to be heat intolerant. I love dogs.

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    I told a co-worker about this thread, his fiance is a Berner breeder. First thing he said was, "They don't like it hot. They're not bred for the heat." I'd be wary of high summer hiking with this breed.

  19. #19
    Registered User Bama Jack & Sadie's Avatar
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    I only hike with my dog (hound/retriever) and yes it can be dangerous. We had an incident with a copperhead in N. Ga. last fall. If it wasn't her, it would have been me. If she could 'speak' (pardon the pun) she would say 'take me hiking' every time. Those that have trained their dog to be a hiker and trained themselves to be a good dog owners know that there is no better hiking companion. Take your pooch and enjoy the trail. Be safe and Sadie ('Princess') says to bring lots of Slim Jim's.

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    Thanks Phreak! That's what I thought!

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