Hiking with old dogs

We love hiking but our old dogs can’t keep up.

But we put hiking on the activity calendar at this dog retirement home.

See what we see on hikes!

We have a couple carrying bags and they make a big difference. Booker is only 7 kilos/15 pounds but carrying him takes boths hands and gets tiring. Putting his weight in this bag helps a lot. Plus when he walks we stick our water bottles in it.

We bought our first bag on Amazon for $13 so if our dogs hated it we wouldn’t be too frustrated.

Then we found a sturdier one at a thrift store for $3!

Definitely cross the straps in the back (you can do it either way) or you’ll constantly be hitching them back up so your dog doesn’t slide away.

We actually bought the first bag for Max. Between neuropathy, chronically stiff muscles and other aches and pains, Max usually wants to stay home. When we’d visit our neighbors in PA for a campfire, Max would take himself home - sometimes while we were still walking to their house.

Max looks toward home

But other days he surprises us and wants to GO! Like this day, when we carried him only occasionally.

So we bought the bag for Max but have used it more for Booker, who gets excited when he sees me pick up the bag. Sometimes I just put him in so he can snuggle and I can get a little work done. I’ve learned cooking, washing dishes and gardening do not work with Booker in the bag.

We always bring a collapsable water bowl and have learned to pour only a little water in at a time. When our dogs are panting and working hard up a hill we’re sure they’ll want water. But often they don’t want to drink much until we’re on a long break or back home and they’ve cooled down. If we’re going to be out for a long time we bring a third water bottle. Most dogs will/can/prefer drinking from muddy puddles and little streams - if there are any on your hike.

Booker’s heart disease is progressing (mitral valve regurgitation) so these days we carry him up hill. He still loves walks and hikes and we let him down to sniff and pee a lot. But he would follow us up a hill, falling behind, working too hard, and we can’t look to him for what’s do-able. Dogs are famous for presenting a happy front even when they’re suffering. And for Booker, being out on a hike with us probably feels pleasant even when his heart is failing.

When we hike with our uncle’s dog Puki we have to take more breaks. Ironic, yes? Puki is 1-year-old and ridiculously strong. But he’s black and the sun absolutely affects him more. In the early morning he noticeably doesn’t stop as much.

Take more breaks than you might need to be sure your dogs are taking care of themselves.


Beth August 13, 2018

So interesting about Puki! Is he becoming better-behaved?

I’m sure you cherish every one of those minutes with Booker snuggling. (Well, except maybe when you really want to get other stuff done . . .)

Anna Lisa Gross August 13, 2018

You know, we’ve been thinking Booker was on his last leg for so long that we’re totally acustomed to spoiling him and thoroughly enjoying him - even his distractions. He’s good for work/life balance, or something:-)

Puki…well, the muzzle has helped a bit - I’m impressed by how quickly he adapted to it. We don’t use it much though because he doesn’t bother the chicken house anymore. I think because the last time he did, Stan, Edith, Phillip and I were all yelling at him and a couple times we dumped water on him when he was going after the chickens. Pretty cool to watch him learn! He’s still a beast to walk though. And we’ll never let him meet the kittens!

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