Diet - this is obviously very important since Rooney is exerting so much energy. In normal life we focus on nutrition and healthy choices, but out he on the trail we focus on calories and fat. The more the better. When we leave town we take a 6 lb bag of dry food and 12 ounces of olive oil with us. The oil is added to the dry food to provide extra fat and calories and all of this typically lasts 3 nights on the trail. Rooney carries some in his pack and we carry some for him. In town, he continues to eat dry food but we also give him raw meat and eggs (not at the same time). We really try to load him up on food when we're in town. So far he has maintained his weight, but his muscles have really bulked up. He looks like a true work dog and is quite the strong little beast.
Paws - one thing we were warned about consistently before thru-hiking was Rooney's paws. We started out carrying boots for him, but it was clear that he wasn't having it. When we put the boots on he refused to move and looked miserable. Plus it felt a little risky to change up his agile footing when the terrain was at times very rocky. He has massive, very strong paws and it's one of their reasons that he can climb and hike so well. We didn't want to mess with that. So instead, we did some research on paw wax and found a product called Mushers Secret. We have been using it since Damascus, about 600 miles, and Rooney's paws are in great shape.
Ticks - this year is reportedly a bad year for ticks because of the mild winter. We find a LOT of ticks on Rooney and ourselves. We apply a monthly tick treatment to Rooney and we do checks on his body multiple times a day. It's not unusual to find 10 ticks in one day. Thankfully his hair is short so it's pretty easy to spot the little buggers. We carry a tick key and tweezers and we are now experts at removing them. If you would like to learn more on ticks, associated diseases and tick removal. Dale & Stacy from 3 Dogs and a Tent discussed it in length on their June 28th Paw Prints Live radio show with their co-host Dr. John Rowe DVM from Aid Animal Hospital. Click here to listen.
Energy - Weimaraners are known for their high energy and athletic ability which makes Rooney great for hiking. Since we've been out here we have noticed that he has calmed down, in a good way. He still has plenty of energy to hike, but he doesn't pull as much on the leash and he stays closer to us when he is off leash. When we are in town or when the tent is set up, he takes advantage and sleeps. He has realized that this is down time and he takes advantage of it.
Gear - we are still really happy with the gear we chose for Rooney. His pack is in great shape and the leash is perfect. We ditched the boots, but everything else is still with us.
So that's it. The basics of hiking with a dog and the things webareasked most frequently. Of course, there is a lot more to it (shelter etiquette, trail commands, etc), but we will save that for another post. Happy summer! Remember to keep your dogs cool and give them plenty of water :)
~Minutes, Serial and Rooney