Cora is an eleven year old German Shepherd with the energy level and mannerisms of an eleven month old puppy. I adopted her from the SPCA in Ithaca, NY. She’s been with me for nine years now.
Cora loves hiking, walking, catching frisbees, and chasing rabbits. She is easily distracted (I think she has doggy ADD) and most of her misbehavior occurs when she stops paying attention to us because something more interesting has come into view.
Cora was great on our backpacking trip. To begin with, she was a total trooper about the backpack. It wasn’t easy to get it on her; every time I tried to slip the pack on over her head, she would drop her chin. I eventually outsmarted her. I put her in a down so she couldn’t get away from me. The amazing thing is that she didn’t do anything to try and get it off once I got it on. During the hike in, she was her usual, bouncy self, keeping an eye on all five people in our party as good shepherd should. She acted as if she were completely unaware of the pack.
On Friday, she went up to Emmaline Lake with us. Since it was just a day hike, she did it without a backpack, but she took a real beating anyway. The hike from the meadow to the lake is reported as two miles but was actually much longer. The trail hasn’t been cleared out yet this year, and there are lots of fallen trees that have to be climbed over or around. Cora likes to jump onto or over these. As the trail got steeper, it also got rougher. The rocks got bigger so that we went from hiking to climbing. Cora did a lot of jumping and scrambling to get up the rocks. Being strong-willed, she repeatedly headed off in the wrong direction and had to back track to get onto the proper trail. I think she may have covered twice the distance the rest of us did. Fortunately, the destination was worth the trip.
On the way back to camp, she perked up some and I realized she had been struggling at the top due to altitude sickness. Her breathing had been much more rapid than usual, and she began to be reluctant to do anything that required going up. As we went back to 9800 from 11000 feet, she became more spry and less recalcitrant. She did, however, take advantage of every rest break she could get.
Whenever we had our food out to cook, we never had to worry about the chipmunks coming into camp and stealing it. Cora was always there, sharp eyes glued to their smallest movements. She would stand up whenever she saw a chipmunk near our camp, and the tiny squirrels would take one look at her and head back the way they had come.
Cora slept in the vestibule of our tent at night. She rarely moved all night long.
After we broke down our camp for the journey home, I put Cora’s backpack on her and we started down the trail. We realized Cora was in trouble in just a few steps. Her hind quarters were shaking and sinking as she tried to walk. She was so tired and sore from the mountain climb the day before that she couldn’t handle the extra weight. So Kurt added her pack to his. Unencumbered, she did fine on the two-plus mile hike back to the car. But when we got there, she had to be lifted into it. She’s been sleeping a lot over the last two days. Still, I’m sure it won’t be long before the question “Do you want to go for a hike?” gets the usual excited response from her. I know I’m raring to go!
One thought on “Cora, Adventure Dog”
We just got Ari (13.5) a Ruff Wear harness. The things are made (built?) for search-and-rescue dogs. They have a handle on the back that lets us support her back legs when necessary (not often, but often enough). You can also hook a leash onto a loop at the back of the harness and support a dog while it walks that way; there’s a German shepherd dog who has significant back-leg weakness who takes daily walks in our neighborhood park that way. Poudre Feed has them, and you can take the dog in the store to try them on.
Nice trick to know about for dogs who refuse to be left behind or slow down.
Probably not compatible with the backpack, though.