A Good Dog For Adventures
Imagine reaching the summit of Scafell Pike, or looking out from the blustery top of Pen y Fan. The air is clear and you have a sense of satisfaction after the arduous climb. An incredible and rewarding feeling for sure, but made truly memorable with a good dog at your side. We have lived with dogs for millennia, in fact, our success as a species may have had something to do with the clever and trainable animals that have since become known as man’s best friend. If you’re reading this thinking, well I’m not a dog person, I might counter that you haven’t met the right dog yet.
For those of you that are dog people, you get it, they are remarkable little souls with complex personalities, emotions and life goals. Tennis balls and treats featuring significantly in the latter. They can be found in movies, books and ancient stories. From the phantom Moddey Dhoo of Manx folklore to the hunting dog Cavall of Arthurian legend, our furry companions have been part of our psyche for eons.
Of course, for those with an adventurous mindset, a dog is a pleasing and often quite practical companion. Their motivation (usually) is unquestionable, and they are actually a motivator in themselves. Watching them scramble and bound ahead of you tends to get you moving just to catch up. Adventures are often planned primarily around them, their needs sometimes initiating a big day out that could otherwise have been spent in front of the TV.
In fact, as an exercise in mindfulness it’s quite therapeutic to consider an adventure from your dog’s perspective. Is a gentle walk or a tough climb preferable? Maybe they would enjoy sleeping under the stars with their best friend (you). Perhaps water is awesome and should be included. They probably won’t consider budget, if one is required, so keep that in mind. And when you get there, try and see it from their eyes. Experience the excitement, the wind and the smells from a childlike, or in this case, a dog-like mindset.
But there are so many breeds, each with different personalities and traits. If you are thinking of getting a dog for adventures, where do you start? Here are a few of my favourites:
You might consider a Border Collie, that high energy, smart pooch with stamina and drive well suited to long hilly walks. This medium sized dog is highly trainable in the right hands, but new owners should be aware that it’s intelligence means it needs mental as well as physical exercise.
Perhaps a Bernese Mountain Dog is more your speed. A big sturdy dog, made for the cold with a double coat and hardy nature. Good climbers, as a working breed they are a reliable companion for adventures. Due to their coat they are not best suited to high temperatures, so keep that in mind during the summer months.
The German Short Haired Pointer, a high-energy and agile dog. Versatile and outdoorsy, it is a great companion when it’s exercise needs are met. Like many dogs, it needs a job and rewards it’s owner with loyalty. It’s short coat means it’s well suited for warmer temperatures.
Now my favourite (a biased opinion for sure but I stand by it), the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, AKA a Toller. A versatile water dog, complete with webbed feet and a low-maintenance double coat. They are eager to please and highly trainable, medium sized and intelligent. Keep in mind their double coat in warm weather.
So what kind of kit should you include when packing for your little pal? If they are suited for cold weather, like the Toller, bring a cooling vest if the weather is hot. If they are suited for warm weather and it’s cold, bring a coat for them. Drinking water is a must no matter the weather, for you and your dog. Treats are essential, not just to keep them sustained but as a means to call them back to you if there are hazards such as sheep in the area. If recall is a concern, bring high value treats such as sausage or chicken. Make sure your details (number and address) are written somewhere on their collar or harness, and in the winter months have a light handy to fix to them when it gets dark.
It’s sensible to consider their age, puppies are energetic and can often appear non-stop, but their bones are still growing and exercise outdoors should be very limited. Older dogs may have health concerns and will suffer on long excursions if they are not considered. Dogs with flat faces (brachycephalic), such as pugs, often have respiratory issues which should be taken into account. Use common sense and you won’t go far wrong.
Dogs are the best of what humanity should be. They can teach us remarkable lessons if we take the time to learn them. They don’t stress about bills, Donald Trump or the state of the economy. There’s a time and a place for that, leave those things in a mental box as best you can and see the world through the eyes of your furry companion. Emulate their mindset and you will find it an adventurous one. There is nothing quite like a good dog.
Tom Henson is a serving Army Officer and writer in his spare time. He enjoys finding extraordinary stories to share with as many people as will listen, as well as spending time outdoors with his two Duck Tolling Retrievers.