by Randy Pierce
I have heard more than a few questions about Quinn’s safety on a hike, and while I’m out in the Pemi Wilderness with him, I thought I would comfort some folks and share with all of you that Quinn is very well tended. With our approach, we follow the adage of a quote I love well: “We do not plan to fail, we fail to plan.” That is to say, we do plan for Quinn’s safety, and hopefully reap the benefits of this choice.
Quinn’s gear includes his own sleeping bag for warmth and to help him dry quickly, which sadly looks necessary for this trip. He will have several paw ‘boots’ to protect him from the rough rocks and these boots have been tested to ensure they give protection and traction. We have a dog safe marigold bug repellent and a bag of cornstarch to soothe bites or chafe. Also, I will carry a full extra meal for him for each day and the extra water to ensure he’s drinking steadily and sufficiently. All of these advance supplies have us prepared to deal with many concerns using a preventative approach.
On the hikes, we use his best alert signal to us, the tail wag, to know how he’s feeling. Each stop involves a little quick check on him to ensure nothing is amiss. We know that a dog’s conditioning typically exceeds our own but practice on the trails helps us understand the mental energy he uses, and helps us ensure calories and rest are supplied to let him enjoy the experience fully.
Most importantly, we have learned what types of terrain are challenging for him directly or a worry for me. If I am sliding off the icy monorail and have the risk of stepping on him, we switch strategies to a human guide. When steep terrain requires I be guided differently, we ensure he works with a sighted person to keep his pace and route appropriate for the terrain. This is especially essential since we know he wants to worry about me, and occasionally he takes a more direct route to me if left to his own devices.
Quinn is not only my essential link to independence and safety; he is my well-loved and cherished companion. I will not deliberately put him into any dangerous situation without taking all the proper safety precautions. If this experience should ever show signs of displeasing him, I will tend to his happiness as a priority, and ensure he doesn’t deal with such a situation again.
It is for this reason, his sheer delight at our mountain explorations, that I do keep him with me in our work together to accomplish these 48 summits. So check the tail in our video and photographs for the evidence that everyone on our hikes can assure you is present. Should this ever not be the case, Quinn can join all of you in watching our Spot Adventures and awaiting my wilderness return from the warm, dry, and safe confines of a comfortable home!