Hiking Perspectives a la dogs

Do you look down or around?

From my observation, most human hiking companions do one or another. By habit, some cast their eyes on the ground, watching for roots, stones, and critters. Others have their heads in the clouds, or at least the ridges and trees.

Just recently, I’ve come to realize these distinctions go for dogs, too.

b  kBelle enjoys the Long View. Sure, she’s part Bassett Hound and can’t help putting her nose to the ground to a certain extent. But with the move to Utah, where even Short Ones can see for miles, she is constantly scanning ridges.

Belle seeks any elevated surface on which to strike the “Land, Ho!” pose. One minute, she’s on a rock outcropping. The next minute, she’s on a fallen log (Hey, that extra 10 inches of height makes a big difference!).

Kip enjoys the Short View. The Australian Shepherd is most concerned with what is on the ground in her immediate area. She’s particularly obsessed with bones. Here in the Oquirrh Mountain foothills, there are plenty of deer bones in various stages of decay. Aside from these treasures, Kip is intent k bon the herd, not the horizon. She keeps track of Belle and her humans. If she looks farther to spot deer or turkeys, it’s only because their movement has caught her eye: something more to herd.

The dogs’ contrasting behaviors has made me appreciate both perspectives and has made me more aware of my own tendencies. I often follow their sight lines and discover more than I would on my own.

Read more about Belle’s nose.

Read more about Kip’s development as a Ride Along Dog.