He was a good boy!
(This dog was abandoned at a campground. We have no firm idea of his actual age and the vet estimated him to be about 4 years of age, hence the question mark.) It was the end of August and temperatures were over 100F. We noticed him hanging around the bathroom facilities while the entire campground was empty except for us. We put out a bowl of water for him and hoped somebody would return for him.
My wife and I were there to do an ultralight backpacking trip and were staying one night at the campground before starting our hike. This dog wandered over to our tent and slept beside it all night. Early the next morning we didn’t see him and after putting out water for him, we started on our way. We ran into the camp host on our way to the trailhead and asked him about the dog. He said people dumped dogs there quite often and that if this one wasn’t gone by the end of the day, he’d take care of it. We knew what that meant and didn’t like it.
About 2 miles into our hike I heard something coming through the undergrowth and stopped to see what it was…it was the dog. My wife and I looked at each other because we knew we were in for a long hike and were concerned that the dog wouldn’t make it. But considering his alternatives, we opted to let him hike with us.
Needless to say, this hike turned into a disaster. All of the watering holes had dried up as we kept hiking from one to the next hoping for water. With the temperatures hovering around 105F we were burning through water faster than expected considering we were sharing with the dog. At the 18 mile mark I began to develop issues with the iliotibial bands in my legs, which made bending my knees very painful.
We had a quick pow-wow and decided to call an end to the hike. We decided to hike 2 miles up the mountain to a scenic overlook and hopefully catch a ride back to the campground. At this point, I was walking like Frankenstein and carrying the dog the last mile to the overlook. His paws were raw from the rocky trail.
My wife reached the overlook first and waited for us. As she saw us coming up the hill, it must have been a sad sight because she decided to jog the 5 miles along the highway back to the campground to retrieve the car and come back for us. Bless her! I couldn’t have done what she did.
On the ride home, the dog was curled up on the back seat sound asleep. We talked for awhile and decided to give him the name “Trooper” since he soldiered on and covered the 20 miles with me. He was a tough little dog!
When we got home, we could tell he was grateful for a meal, a bath and a soft bed. I’ve never had a dog that snored as loud as this little guy did.
He got along well with the two other stray pups that our daughter brought home, all the while, we were questioning our sanity and decisions.
As a family, we mourn his passing and take solace that we tried to give him love and a better life than his previous owners. We had 9 good years with him and know that he’s in a better place, free from infirmities and old age. He was truly a member of our family, a gift out of the wilderness. He always greeted us at the door with his tail wagging and was constantly by our side. He kept a watchful eye out the window for anything out of place and alerted us to everything unusual with a bark that was way above his weight-class. You were a good boy Trooper and we miss you, Love Mom and Dad.