But first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROONEY!!
Quick disclaimer before we get going: I am neither a veterinarian nor an expert on dogs. My thoughts and opinions stem from my own experiences with my Weimaraner and from research I have done on the subject. I encourage you to explore other sources of information and determine what works best for you and your dog – everyone is different.
(Side note – if you’re interested in adopting a Weimaraner, there is a fantastic rescue organization nearby and I definitely suggest you check them out. You don’t need to go to a breeder to get a full-bred dog!)
Bringing a dog on a thru-hike is one of those topics that stir up strong emotions in some folks. Some have had bad experiences with an aggressive dog or maybe they had to share a campsite with a dog that was allowed to run loose and disturb other hikers. Some think it’s cruel and selfish to force a dog to hike that many miles. Whatever the reason, there are a large number of folks who do not welcome dogs on the trail. And that’s fine. I’m not here to tell them they are wrong.
But I’m also not in agreement with them. I think some dogs do have a place on the trail, BUT I also think there are very important factors that need to be considered before you take your dog on a hike, whatever the distance. Most importantly, you need to be in control of your dog. I say this for the safety of the dog most of all. Yes, it is also to be considerate of your fellow hikers, but your dog relies on you to know what is acceptable and safe. So for your dog’s sake, make sure you have reliable verbal commands and can call your dog to your side no matter what the circumstance.
All of that said, if you still believe that your dog is ready for a thru-hike then head over to this checklist on WhiteBlaze and give it a thorough read. It’s a bit of a harsh stance on trail dogs and you may not agree with every word of it, but it does provide some very important questions to consider.