Sunday, August 28, 2011

Leo Bags Peaks Pierce and Eisenhower

Leo at the summit of Mount Eisenhower
Foster dog Leo had a tall order for the day in attempting to reach the summits of Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower in advance of the approaching Hurricane Irene.  Leo is an approximately one year old, mostly Labrador retriever mix, who is currently being fostered in New Hampshire where his temporary family reports that he is a wonderful dog who is always in search of the next adventure.  With that much energy and sense of adventure, I decided that Leo would be up for the challenge of hiking the Crawford Path Trail to the top of Mt. Pierce (4,310 ft.) and then continuing on the summit of Mt. Eisenhower (4,760 ft.) - a round trip hike of 9.6 miles.  This hike and several others suitable for canine companions are featured in the book Best Hikes with Dogs - New Hampshire & Vermont written by Lisa Densmore.

Buckled up for safety en route to the trail
On Friday afternoon, we learned that the White Mountain National Forest would be closing effective as of 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, 2011 in preparation for the storm.  So, in order to make certain that we got an early start, Leo and I traveled north on Friday and spent the night at the pet friendly Johnson's Motel and Cottages in Twin Mountain, New Hampshire.  Hosts Paul and Colleen Sampson are very welcoming of pets, and they even provide complimentary bandanas to their canine guests.  Leo was the perfect guest remaining quiet and well behaved before settling in to go to sleep on the floor promptly at 11:00 p.m.

The view from Crawford Path en route to Mt. Pierce
By 7:45 a.m. the next morning, Leo and I were on our way to the Crawford Path trail via the Crawford connector from the parking lot located on Mount Clinton Road.  Leo proved to be an excellent hiking companion, and he was both curious and determined during the entire ascent.  Along the way, we met with a number of hikers who remarked that they could not believe such a friendly dog as Leo was without a permanent home to call his own.

Leo and I at the summit of Mt. Eisenhower
Sadly, Leo's situation is not uncommon in most states in this country and throughout the world.  New Hampshire has been very successful in its approach to dog overpopulation through comprehensive programs in education, legislation and sterilization.  Most other states, however, are still struggling to duplicate these successes in controlling the homeless pet problem, and millions of dogs like Leo are still being euthanized as a result.  Thankfully, through the efforts of rescue groups like Canine Guardians for Life, Inc., dogs residing in overcrowded animal shelters are being given a second chance using a dedicated foster home network of volunteers.

Leo resides in a foster home with both dogs and cats, so I did not have any reservations about allowing him to interact with other pets on our hike.  He respectfully greeted a handsome Corgi and a Rottweiler mix on our journey up the trail.  He also kindly interacted with people of all ages including a large group of children who were hiking down the ridge trail towards us on our way to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower.

Strapping on the feed bag on the summit of Mt. Eisenhower
Leo acted like a dog who regularly hikes in the White Mountains, and it was difficult to convince people we met along the trail that he was a recent arrival from Alabama.  We took several water breaks and stopped for lunch after we reached the summit of Mt. Eisenhower.  Fellow hikers on the summit of Mt. Eisenhower were inquiring about Leo and kindly accepted our request to take a photo of the accomplishment.

Wading in the water at Gibbs Falls
Leo hiked just in front or alongside of me on the way up the mountain, and this allowed for several photo opportunities.  On the way down, however, with several areas of slippery rocks it was much safer to have Leo walking behind me, so that he did not accidentally pull me and cause a fall.  He was very obedient in following my commands to remain behind on the leash while I descended at a slower pace than his sturdier four paws may have preferred.  Leo's obedient efforts were rewarded with a refreshing break near the end of our journey where he was allowed to wade in the waters of Gibbs Falls.

As we concluded our hike, Leo and I had the opportunity to meet fellow rescue dog Gretel and her owner Dana who had also just completed a long hike along the Crawford Path trail.  Leo interacted very well with Gretel, and neither dog's level of playfulness seemed to indicate how tired they must have been from such a long journey.  To view pictures of Leo's entire hike, including his meet and greet with Gretel, please visit his photo album online.

UPDATE - Leo now has his own profile on  Please visit his profile if you are interested in learning more about him or would like to complete an application to adopt him  We would be very grateful if you could also share our blog with your family and friends and be sure to like us on Facebook

See you on the trails!


  1. Hey, I took Leo over to meet his transport from Alabama and he was the perfect passenger. I heard not a PEEP out him for the whole hour-and-a-half drive from Selma, Al, where my friend, Janet Ealum, head of "Maebelle's Bridge" rescue, had pulled him out of the shelter! WAY TO GO LEO! I am so proud to have helped you get to the mountain!!! Love you!

  2. Thanks for helping Leo along on his journey to a new life. I think this southern gentleman will be very happy up here. Obviously, he really loves the mountains! Please send along a thank you to Janet as well, and we will be sure to keep you posted on his progress! We also post our blog links and updates on Facebook at

  3. Oh my what a precious tear pulling story~ please someone pass the kleenex!
    This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful stories ever written, I am so very happy and thrilled for Leo especially knowing what I know and how this may not have been...and Leo was so very close to not having been..
    I am so grateful for the day I met Mary Jo, I did not know a prayer had been answered for some of the animals here and the desperate help I need to keep saving~
    Mary Jo understood the urgent need here and accepted gentleman Leo right away..
    "Thank you" so very much for this Blog and your very kind heart.. I am just speechless and so very full of joy to see you with Leo and am amazed how gracious he appears to be!
    "Thank you Again" for Sharing your time and Love with Leo~~I will remember this always~~ Janet

  4. Thank you, Janet. As the saying goes, "Where there's a will, there's a way." We are happy to be a part of Leo's second chance. He is a truly wonderful dog, and we look forward to following his progress and to helping other dogs in foster care hike their way into adoptive homes! Stay tuned for future hikes and for more updates on past hikers who have been adopted.

  5. Mary-Jo is an angel to so many....And Foster Dog Summit is an amazing, wonderful venture!!! Leo will find the wonderful forever home he deserves!!