Nice thread, I have lots to say about it, as some of you could imagine. I'll just answer a bunch of the questions in a stream of thought, in no particular order.
I always carry a leash for Callie, but I rarely use it. The key for a good leash is for it to have some elasticity, and for it to have an adjustable strap so that you can either put it around your waist or attach it to your waist belt, allowing for your hands to be free. For backcountry Sierra trips, the times I use it are: when I see wildlife such as deer or a bear and I want to dissuade Callie from making any sudden movies, when we run into other dogs or people who seem fearful of dogs, around camp if I want to keep her out of water as we are approaching sundown.
I carry the same food she eats at home. We feed her eukanuba premium performance food, which seems to have a very good calorie/weight balance and nutrition, as far as dog food goes. Like another poster mentioned, she normally doesn't want to eat much on the trail. I often fix this by putting a little bit of my dinner below hers in her bowl, and she ends up eating all of her food in order to eat a little bit of mine. We carry a rubber colapsible bowl, as well as another bowl from ruff wear, so that she has a water and food dish at camp.
I have never filtered water for Callie, and there was one time that she may have gotten sick from it, but I think it was unrelated. Either way, so far so good as far as I'm concerned. The prospect of keeping her from drinking stream water seems too much. Speaking of streams, she doesn't swim, likes to play in the water, but only up to her ankles. She is agile and can rock hop or walk over logs to cross streams, but sometimes I need to carry her.
She absolutely loves snow.
I've never run into any indication that altitude is a problem. The highest that I've taken Callie is around 12k feet. She is fairly invincible so this is not a concern.
What is always a big concern is her paws. She never wears booties and we haven't had any problems, although I just noticed that a layer of one of her pads wore off after a series of winter adventures this week. She is fine but I wonder how much more activity would be required to wear through the next layer and cause real issues.
We carry a small cut out section of a blue foam sleeping pad. She sleeps in the tent. She is crate trained so it is natural.
I would activate my SPOT for my dog, but more importantly, I plan my trips knowing that she could always hurt herself and be able to get out. I try to make sure that I'd be able to get her out. That is one of the reasons that I didn't get a bigger dog. I feel that, at 40 pounds, I could carry Callie out of nearly any place we go.
I don't think there is any sage advice to give to a dog owner to make their dog a great hiker. The dogs need experience just like we do, and it comes naturally to them over time. I think the one place where they really need our help is with rattlesnakes, so I recommend everyone gets their dog rattlesnake training if they are in areas where an attack is possible.
Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
Snowtrout wrote:I think that the breed of the dog has a lot to do with what is needed for them to be successful and comfortable in the backcountry.
It helps to have a high energy breed.
http://shine.yahoo.com/pets/5-most-high ... 00318.html
"...Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?"
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I just saw in another thread that Calpidder has an incredibly cute puppy who should be trail savvy within a year. We had 11 great years with a golden retriever whose best days were in the Sierra. Although it kept us from going into the Parks (yes, we obeyed the rules), we got to know the areas between Kings and Yosemite very well. Aside from his first trip, he carried his food which we double wrapped in plastic, because he was prone to hop in any water we came across. We also trained our guy early on to use me as a landing pad for descending off trail passes like Snow tongue, Cox col and even Puppet Pass. We're still debating getting another canine companion: maybe one of those big guys who can carry the brandy?
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You'll get another friend. Calpidder's dog Thor is really cute. I'm putting off getting another Lab until Bubba goes. He's almost 12 (JRT). Don't want the bad habits to rub off He's not that bad but has several kills to his name; we won't go into that. If Bubba floated like a Lab, he'd be duck hunting with me. He sinks like a rock.
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