Without a doubt, dogs are the best companions we could ever have, aren’t they? They stay with you, they ensure you are okay and will do anything to keep you happy. Ever forgiving, ever-loving, gem of an animal they are. And I experienced their love first hand when I went on a trek in the Himalayas. I was doing my first solo trek, Kedarkantha, in the year 2012, when this black Himalayan furry boy started walking with me. He was extremely friendly, but that’s how almost every other dog in the Himalayas are. They are very sweet to you if you show them love and kindness.
THE LOCAL GUIDE
I don’t know how and when but he seemed to have become my guide. He would walk ahead, showing me the way usually and then would wait and look back if I stopped. I could see that he was guiding me through the trail. He would rest when I did, drink water where ever he found the water sources and encourage me to hydrate as well. That was really surprising because before that I hadn’t really experienced this kind of companionship with any animal.
But being with him made me feel happy and safe. I would try to match his pace, race a little with him and became his friend. The funny part was, I tried drinking water like him and now nine years later, I don't really carry a water bottle on many of my treks. I simply put my mouth into the stream, it is refreshing, you should try it out sometime.
Unfortunately, he didn't accompany me to the summit but was waiting for me when I made my way back to the trail to head back. Of course, seeing such a loyal companion, I bonded with him. I started talking with him asking various questions like "Have you ever been to the top?” and even replied to him with an “if not, you should, it's magical out there". He did look me in the eye when he spoke to me, and it felt like he said that he goes there every other day. It probably was true, I am sure it wasn’t his first time up the trail with a human. He was loyal to everyone who would trek up I suppose.
He stopped at a small tea shop before the entrance of the village about a kilometre before the end of the trail and looked at me with his puppy dog eyes. I was hungry too, and this good boy definitely deserved a good meal. He ate around four packets of Parle-G and two slices of bread and then wagging his tail as if to say thank you, he took off on the other trail. My fondest memory would be of seeing his black hairy tail at the end. My loyal companion.
A few years later when I started working in the outdoors as a trek leader I met many tails on the trail. I realised how amazing they are, how kind they could be and how some of them could genuinely understand everything you said and just sitting with him would make you feel so much better. There were all kinds of tails-
Some were frisky. Some were sheepdogs. Some use to lead the trail. Some were there just to show their presence. But the one common thing in every other dog is they love to walk on the trails.
This brings me to talk about Casper, my own pet. Unfortunately, until last year he didn't really ever go out into the wild. Of course, I am at fault but every cloud has a silver lining and thanks to the lockdown during Covid I got the time to spend with him.
We have now been on small hikes in the outskirts of Dehradun a couple of times. He is a big boy of six and I know he should have been out way earlier on the trails but better late than never, right? At least that's what I felt through his actions.
His first hike was an amazing experience for both of us, where we shared a lot of moments of laughter and fun. His first hike gave him the chance to get his first long drive too, where he sat for almost an hour in the taxi. He was very anxious throughout the drive, it was a new experience for him after all. He was used to running on his own, and now suddenly he was moving when he was stationary. Must have been pretty springing for him.
The moment he got off the car I could see him heave a sigh of relief. He was free again, he gave me a glance and simply ran to a certain distance inside the jungle and stopped. There it looked like he was surveying his surrounding for a moment, had a good glance all around as waited for me to come.
We then started walking ahead, sometimes together, but most of the time he leads the trail. For him everything was new, he was observing everything as much as he could, but I could see that he was excited. I realised I should have taken him out way sooner, but I was happy that I, at last, got the opportunity then.
When he came across a small pond before I could even say no, he was inside the pond. Swimming or struggling I am not sure but he looked like he was enjoying every bit of it. He didn't stop at all, and for the next two hours, we continued walking. We called it a day after that, I didn’t want to exhaust him too much on his first outing. But he looks at me eagerly every time I get into a taxi.
Today we had a 3km morning run. He loves running.
Soon we will start our trail running too!
I really hope you guys have already been on a trail with your pet and didn’t wait for so long like me. If not, as I said, it’s better late than never, so get out as soon as it’s safe and get that cute little doggy of yours with you!
It's an amazing experience to be around tails on trails.
Here is one beautiful video I came across on “Tail on Trail”