For some reason, I assumed that dogs possessed a natural instinct about how to safely navigate rocky terrain. I thought they had some inborn dog wisdom about behaving sanely around heights.
I was wrong. From what I observed on Sunday, my dog thinks she is a mountain goat.
In the early afternoon, we (my son, the dog, and I) set out for a hike from the Sandstone Road Trailhead in Calico Basin. The area is heavily visited, which normally is something I avoid, but Gigi was delighted. She’s an extroverted canine. “New people? New dogs? And hiking!? If only you’d brought Beggin’ Strips, the day would be perfect!”
Gigi led us up the wide gravel trail toward Ash Canyon. We saw a photo shoot going on just off the trail, with the model (who was wearing black stiletto heels, a sequined bra, and extreme short-shorts) perched atop an impressive chunk of sandstone. In the distance and up high, rock climbers were hanging off the cliffs (which in comparison looked much harder, except for the high heels).
We continued past a rock labyrinth (the largest one I’ve seen so far in Red Rock), through a marshy area, and headed up Ash Canyon.
When a bit of light bouldering was required, I laughed when Gigi hopped over rocks. I mean, she looked adorable. I think I said something out loud to that effect.
When the bouldering got tougher, I climbed up, looking for a way around the boulders that were too high for Gigi. I stopped at a slab of sandstone that I wasn’t sure any of us could get around. “I don’t think we can get through this way,” I told my son, who was also checking out other routes.
Gigi must have thought I said, “Come this way!” because she charged around me, clambered up the rock, then slid down the sandstone like she was in some Canine X Games event.
“Yeah, I can see how she can’t get through this way,” my son commented.
“How’s she going to get back out of there?” I asked him. After surfing down four feet of sandstone, Gigi had landed in a pocket of scrub trees and gravel.
“Good point,” my son said.
Gigi was cheerfully unbothered by her position, and she managed to scramble up and out after a couple of tries. But had she learned that her lack of opposable thumbs (or hooves) was a major disadvantage when it came to rock scrambling? Nope. She soon was trying to scale the rocks ahead of us.
After having visions of carrying an injured dog back to the car (a 50 pound dog, by the way), I decided we needed to turn around.
Once we were on level ground, we met up with two other hikers on their way back to the trailhead. Gigi trotted happily in front of us. One of the hikers told me, “She reminds me of a dog I had named Foolish. He hiked with me in Alaska.” The hiker had seen Gigi trying to tip-toe along the side of a drop-off while we were still in the canyon.
Back at the car, Gigi the Goat Dog had a big drink of water before stretching out in the back seat and falling asleep. After finding out that all my assumptions about dogs and rock scrambling were wrong, I was just relieved that we hadn’t incurred any vet bills.
Do you hike with your dog?