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Here’s another set of photos from our Saturday hike, a rare chance when we could take my playmates Marley (the Saint Bernard) and Luoxi (the black Tibetan dog) out at the same time. Daddy was too busy taking charge of three dogs to take any photos (but I really didn’t need him to take care of me…), so these photos are from our guest’s camera. Enjoy!
Every Saturday if the weather is nice, my daddy and I would take the guests of our hostel on a free guided day hike. I’m just getting around to putting up some photos from these trips. We go to a mountain called Shibaoshan near our guesthouse, it’s loads of fun, there’s even a little section of scrambling you have to do, it’s funny to see the humans trying to walk with all their feet and hands. I’m usually the first one to scramble up the cliff.
Daddy must be the laziest human ever, he kept coming up new ways for me to do stuff for him. Just because I’m a sled dog, he wants me to pull a bicycle for him!
The raining season has lasted longer this year than before, it has been raining almost non-stop for the last couple of weeks, I’m getting so bored stuck in the yard all the time!
The rain finally stopped yesterday, so today I took daddy and mommy hiking to the Lotus Mountain east of Shaxi. Enough words, let’s look at the pictures!
Daddy is probably the laziest hiker in the world, he wants me to carry his stuff when we go hiking! So the very first piece of outdoor gear he decided to buy for me was a dog backpack. After much pawing around on the Internet and reading reviews from other humans, he finally decided on a Ruff Wear Palisades pack/harness combo.
When I first got my paws on this pack, I knew this is a good product. The material used in this pack is as good as any of my daddy’s human gear, there are reflective trims everywhere (something none of my daddy’s gear have), the stitching is dense and strong, basically everything screams of quality construction.
The pack on the Palisades is a symmetrical saddle bag design, with identical compartments on either side of the body. The outer (smaller) compartment can hold some small items, and it also houses the compression straps for the main compartment. The main compartment is large, daddy hasn’t been able to fill it up to its capacity yet, it can take a day worth of water and food for me with no problems. When the main compartment is not full, the aforementioned compression straps can keep the pack nice and compact, and the extra strap is stored in the outer compartment so there’s nothing that’s dangling around to get caught on tree branches and bushes when I’m dashing through the woods, that’s quite considerate of Ruff Wear.
Inside the main compartment there’s a small zippered pouch with a water bladder (included) on either side of the pack for carrying water. Even though I always drink out of mountain streams, it’s a nice thing to have if and when I take daddy hiking in a very dry place. There’s a small zippered opening on the inside of each side for the hose of the water bladder. There is a daisy-chain on either side of the pack in case you need to strap on any extra gear (like I’m going to do that!). All the zippers are waterproof zippers, there’s a drainage hole on the bottom of the pack to drain out any water that got into the pack, and there are reflective trims on both side of the pack for visibility at night. Great attention to details!
One really cool and unique feature of the Palisades pack is the fact that the pack is removable from the harness that serves as its frame. This framed design is very similar to the large backpacks used by humans, it helps to distribute the load and keep the pack in place better (but the human packs can’t be detached from its frame!). The frame of the pack is based on the Ruff Wear Webmaster harness, and it deserves a separate review. The Palisades pack’s harness is identical with the Webmaster, except it has four quick release clip-in points to attach the pack. The quick on-and-off attachment of the pack is a really nice feature, it makes putting on and taking off the pack a breeze, it also makes adjustment of the pack very easy, and when you stop for a rest on the trail, you can bug your humans to take the pack off for you so you can have a rest as well.
The harness’s back is shaped by foam, so it holds its shape even when I’m not wearing it. There are two padded straps that go around the rib cage, and a “Y” shaped strap that goes around the neck/shoulder area. There’s a handle and a D-ring attachment point on top of the harness. The handle is for temporary controlling your dog or lifting them up small obstacles. With the pack attached to the harness, the handle and D-rings are still accessible through a circular hole on top of the pack (if you attached the pack the right way). The harness is ergonomically designed to fit a dog, so it’s actually possible for daddy to lift me totally off the ground by the handle. Not that I’m a big fan of being held like a suitcase, but it proved to be really useful when daddy helped me scrambling up some really steep rock faces on a trail I couldn’t get up otherwise. Many other owners also use this harness to help aging dogs or dogs recovering from sickness/surgery. There are also reflective trims everywhere on this harness for better visibility when I’m out walking at night.
So I put on this pack and took daddy out hiking, just to try it out. The pack was really comfortable. I was on the trail for five minutes, then I got very used to it, I barely noticed it was there. Which could be a bad thing depends on how you look at it, because I would dash around happily and not realizing I now have a wider profile, I would scrape the pack against trees, rocks, people’s legs (and knocking them over in the process). I even got stuck trying to squeeze through between two rocks. But the material of the pack is amazingly strong, even against fairly rough sandstone, the pack barely had any abrasion on it. Whenever we stopped for a break, daddy was able to quickly and easily take the pack off my back to give me a break as well. The harness by itself was also very useful, daddy used the handle to help me scramble up some rock faces… not that I couldn’t get up there, I just didn’t want to.
Overall this is a very nice pack, I like it, so does my daddy. The price tag of $125 is pretty steep, but since I’m not the one paying for it, I think it’s a great deal.
- Removable pack.
- Great load distribution.
- Handle close to dog’s center of gravity for lifting.
- Harness that can be used separately from the pack.
- A bit on the pricey side.
While searching for information on doggie mountaineering, I came across this interesting article, apparently, I still have a long way to go if I want to be the highest dog in the world.
My story of climbing the Haba Mountain made it to the October Dog Tale of the Month on Ruff Wear’s blog, check it out!
As all dogs probably know, our humans are generally very out of shape. So taking them on a hike can be a challenge (to them, not to us). We must figure out the best way to keep them going and to give them enough exercise, so they can grow stronger for the next hike. Here are some tips that may be helpful.
- Make sure they’re wearing appropriate clothes. Humans are weird that way, they have to wear stuff. Since they tend to get sunburned easily, or cold easily, or mosquito bites easily, make sure they’re wearing the right stuff for the weather. You don’t want to run home alone like Lassie and try to bark your emergency to the next human, just because your human isn’t smart enough to bring a rain jacket to the mountains and gets hypothermia.
- Make sure they wear the right footwear. Again, humans are weird, they like to wear stuff on their paws. Since they are only 2LD (2-leg drive), they only need to do this on their rear paws, which saves some trouble. On the other hand, being 2LD makes them rather ungainly on anything other than a paved road, so make sure they have the correct footwear for the terrain, lest them twist an ankle and you have to pull a Lassie again.
- Make them carry a pack. It gives them something to do and make them feel all “outdoorsy”. Make it a cool one with loads of straps and attachment points, bonus if you can manage to strap and attach loads of your stuff to the outside of the pack so it dangles as they bounce around the trail, it’s really cute.
- Stuff to put in the pack. Some snack for you, some treats for the humans, maybe a toy, a rain jacket for the human, a first aid kit, and water bottles or a water bladder (you can learn to drink out of one too).
- Make them carry your water. Water is heavy so it deserves a special mentioning. On a hot day we need to drink a lot of water, so I make sure daddy carry at least 3-4L of water for the both of us. It’s true that we can drink from the numerous streams and ponds on the mountains, but the water the humans drink are free of any nasty invisible bugs that can make you sick.
- Run ahead of them to make them chase you. This one is super effective. I got my daddy trained so well now, he can actually run up a snow mountain trying to keep up with me. Just make sure you look back once in a while to see if they’re still in the upright position.
- Let them use trekking poles. The aforementioned human shortcoming of being only 2LD can be solved by giving them a couple of sticks for their front paws, so they can pretend to be somewhat of a 4LD (4-leg drive). Although they still can’t fly down the trail and turn on a dime like we can, it does make them climb faster and reduces their tendency to trip over themselves whenever given the chance.
- Refuse to go home. Of course the best tactics for giving your humans enough exercise is to refuse to take them home. When they think they need to turn around, don’t follow. Run just outside of their reach, and encourage them to follow, even though they are tired and beg you to go home, you can still probably get another 5 miles out of them if you stand your ground.
If you can follow my above advices, I guarantee you that your humans will come home, drop their pack, fall to the ground and go to sleep where they lay. They may even whimper a little about sore muscles and kick their legs during the night, it’s all normal. A few hiking trips of this intensity and they will be in their best shape ever!