Trip To The CanyonPosted on July 15, 2022
When I head into the Canyons of the Texas Panhandle for a good hike, normally I take my dog, Lucy, with me. It not only provides me with some much-desired companionship, it absolutely is her favorite thing to do. However, there are some issues that sometimes concern me, especially as she has gotten older. I don’t want to push her to hard and I don’t want her to burn or injure her feet. Afterall, the summer heat in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, south of Amarillo, or Caprock Canyons State Park, near Quitaque, Texas, can be dangerous and it will sneak up on us. Also, if she gets off the trail, she’s likely going to get stuck by something.
Lucy is about 13 years old, but she thinks she’s still a puppy. She likes to go, and she doesn’t understand pacing or hydration. She just goes.
When she was young, and I was younger, that is what we did. We would just take off and hike until we were too tired to hike anymore. Neither of us can do that anymore and while I understand, she does not so I really have to keep an eye on her. They make little saddlebags so dogs can carry their own water, but Lucy doesn’t like those. So, I have a fanny pack that I use to carry water for myself, and it has a pouch that allows me to carry a water bowl and water for her. Shade is scarce in the canyons but I have to find it frequently so I can make her sit and cool off. Hopefully I can get her to drink some water too, but that can turn into an argument sometimes because she doesn’t realize she needs to hydrate.
So far, while it has been a challenge, I usually can get her to do the right thing, so she stays safe from the heat. Stickers and thorns? Those are completely different issues.
Lucy is a bird dog, and she wants to go where the birds are — and they aren’t on the trail. I want to give her plenty of leash so she can have her freedom, but I don’t like having to constantly dig prickly pear thorns out of her feet. I’ve tried putting those little booties on her and initially that didn’t go well at all. However, I’m going to keep trying. In the meantime, I keep some tweezers in the pack with her water.
While realizing neither of us can just bust down a trail anymore, hiking with my Lucy girl still is a joy. Watching her head down one of her favorite trails (and yes, she has specific trails that she prefers) is fun and relaxing for me. Watching her wag the whole back half of her body because she is having a good time makes me smile, and sometimes laugh. I just have to remember where we are and how old we are, and make sure our fun is safe fun.
Photo: Lucy on the Canyon Rim trail at Caprock Canyons State Park, near Quitaque, Texas.
Article & Photo by: Richard Porter
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