Setting off to walk a trail or hill never seems quite as lovely as when you have your best friend with you. That’s man’s best friend: Your dog! On a recent Munro bagging outing in Glencoe, Scotland, I took Wispa the Wonder Whippet along for the walk. She’s a skinny kind of dog and can sometimes be a bit timid but I thought she would enjoy the outing on a later summer’s day.
Walking in remote areas and where there are few other dogs and people, Wispa is a very happy mutt indeed. She enjoys being off the lead (there were no sheep around) and amazingly she can find her way up and down steep, craggy sections and even over rocky scrambles.
She likes to make sure that I am within sight but often she’ll potter on ahead or lag behind because she’s found something to sniff, and then bound up to me keeping me company for a while.
But there are few practicalities that need to be dealt with while out on the hills with a dog. For example, how can you carry food and water for your dog? What if they become wet and chilly? How can you carry them across tricky hill sections or rivers (whippets aren’t fond of water and rivers)?
Great hillwalking kit for dogs
* Food and water problems are solved by a clever range of soft or foldable pet bowls. You can carry water for your dog in a bottle (or find fresh water in running streams and rivers) and then pour it into a bowl, such as a Fozzils Pet Bowl or a Mountain Paws soft bowl.
* Food can be carried inside a Mountain Paws food bowl. The bowl has a tie that allows you to keep the food stowed safely inside and then when you want to feed the dog you loosen off the tie at the top and a bowl is formed. Clever!
* Lifting a dog (so long as they are light enough not to strain your back!) is made easy with a Hang on dog harness. I hadn’t heard about these until a friend with a Staffie mentioned them. It’s a clever gadget that sits like a dog lead/harness around the dog’s body. There is a handle at the top that allows the owner to easily lift the dog. This is particularly useful if your dog, like my whippet, gets nervous at small jumps over rocks. You can simply lift the dog from one edge to the safety of the next section of the path.
* There is a large range of dog jackets, fleeces and waterproofs to fit all sizes and shapes of dogs. Wispa loves her fleecy jumper jacket.
* And remember to lift anything your dog leaves behind if it's on or close to a trail. Double or triple wrapping the poo in bags will ensure it doesn't leak on to the contents of your rucksack. Or you could tie it to the outside of the daypack and bin it later.
* Camping out with your dog si also possible thanks to kennel tents. These make sense if you prefer for your dog to sleep in a separate tent (although I find my whippet is a cosy hot water bottle at night!). The kennel tent is like an annexe to your own tent!
* You will probably be keen to clean you dog down, however, before letting it near your tent, or the car. A handy Mud Glove looks similar to oven gloves and allows you to wipe your mutt down without getting your own hands dirty.
Dogs love being out in the fresh air, and Wispa really enjoyed her recent Munro bagging walk. She slept for hours on the pub floor after the walk and then cosied up next to me to sleep that night. She even slept all the way home the next day in the car (on her special dog blanket). Sometimes it would be great to be a dog, wouldn’t it?!