Do you want to go on an adventure?
That’s the question I ask my dog every time we’re about to head out for a day in the woods.
And every time she loses her mind with excitement, only to have to sit in the car for two or more hours.
Now she isn’t the most athletic dog, being a stout 55 pounds, nor is she the most agile. But put her in the mountains and she is at home. Despite her strange shape and size, she can climb with the best of them and she always keeps up.
Her name is Mia, she’s a seven-year-old husky crossed with cocker spaniel, and her shape is about as odd as you’d expect it to be given her different heritage. She is my adventure companion.
By the time we get to the trailhead, any trailhead really, she has boundless energy.
When I’m alone and the hum from the highway finally goes silent I make sure to keep the conversation going with her, mostly to scare off wildlife.
She may like the adventure, but she definitely has her quirks. For one, she really doesn’t like drinking out of the portable water bowl I bring along. Instead she turns up her nose at it. Sure sometimes a treat helps and sometimes she gets so thirsty she will actually drink from it, but most of the time she won’t touch it.
This means I usually try to choose a hike that has water nearby, she loves natural water. This leads to many hikes at Allstone Lake or Kinglet Lake near Nordegg. While she won’t drink from the bowl, she’s excited to stand in the lake, creek, puddle or stream and drink that water instead.
If we’re hard pressed to find natural occurring water, then we had better find some snow. Not just to eat, but to roll in, slide around on and sit in. If I can find a lunch spot near some snow, she won’t bug me for my food, she’ll just sit there in the snow panting and smiling.
When we get to the apex of the hike, she’ll find the highest point and stand there enjoying the view. I can’t be completely sure she knows how nice the view is, but she seems to enjoy climbing up rocky points and looking out.
On the way back down, she trots ahead and will then look back to make sure I’m coming, too. Once she’s sure, she’ll continue on her merry way with her tail wagging with excitement.
By the time we’re back at the car she jumps in and we’re heading back. I can usually hear her snoring away, exhausted from another day of fun.
She’s getting older now, and the effects of a hike can lead to exhaustion and stiffness afterwards. But that smile and excitement every morning of an adventure lets me know how much she enjoys it.
Murray Crawford is an Advocate reporter/editor.