Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Third Hike is a Charm with Tyson

Tyson happy on the trails of Belknap Mountain!
At the start of my third hike with Tyson, I began to wonder if perhaps I had already written everything I could about this wonderful Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever mix.  Of course, the one thing I had not blogged about was how much I have personally wanted to adopt this dog.  Truthfully, I feel that way about all of the dogs I have hiked with since beginning the Foster Dog Summit blog in July 2011.  But I cannot adopt them all, and that is what keeps me hiking and blogging in the hopes that these adventures are strengthening their adoption profiles.

Tyson making it difficult for me to resist adopting him!
If I were in a different position where I could take on a third dog, Tyson would have been back blogging by my side after our first hike to the summit of Kinsman North.  Since then, Tyson has joined me on a hike with fellow foster dog Sage along the Mt. Percival - Mt. Morgan loop and most recently on an adventure to the summit of Belknap Mountain on an unseasonably warm January day.

Taking in the views
We spent the afternoon of Sunday, January 8, 2012 making our way to the top of Belknap Mountain via the carriage road to the Red Trail which leads to the summit.  We then carefully made our descent along the icy White Trail.

Tyson is one of those dogs who is always ready for the next adventure, and he thoroughly enjoys the journey as much as he does arriving at the destination.  From the car ride to the summit and then back to the trail head, Tyson is completely in the moment and thinking full speed ahead.  I remember one of the hikers we met on Mt. Kinsman commented about Tyson, "Look at how smart that dog is - you can see his intelligence.  He looks as though he is comprehending everything we are saying."

Tyson waits patiently below the fire tower while I take photos
Tyson is indeed all that and more, and he will be a perfect companion for an active family who appreciates his intelligence and determination.  I had a hopeful yet somewhat sad feeling that our hike on Belknap Mountain may be our last outing before Tyson finally finds the forever home that he deserves and has been waiting for so patiently.  I hope that three is indeed a charm for Tyson, and I will look forward to maybe meeting up with him on the trails in the company of his own family sometime in the future.

Wonder what he's thinking...
An entire photo album of Tyson's most recent hike is available online, and you can learn and share more about him on his profile.  To learn more about Tyson and/or to volunteer or make a contribution to other dogs in need of rescue, please visit Canine Guardians for Life, Inc.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Carley Hikes Turtleback and Gets Adopted

Carley on the way to Bald Knob
When I learned from Almost Home Rescue of Maine that their next hiker on the list was a 10-month old Labrador/Terrier mix, I was fully prepared for an encounter with high energy excitement and beginner level leash skills.  Imagine my surprise when instead I met up with sweet and adorable Carley who walked so well beside me the entire hike that it hardly seemed as though she was even attached to the end of the leash! 

Carley on the summit of Turtleback Mountain
Carley thoroughly enjoyed our journey to start the New Year in the land surrounding the Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, New Hampshire.  We wound our way through the trails leading to the summit of Turtleback Mountain via Shannon Brook Trail to the Bald Knob Cutoff to the Bald Knob Trail.  Our walk along the Bald Knob Trail was spectacular with stunning views of Lake Winnipesaukee easily seen through the leafless trees.  We spent only a short time on the very breezy and chilly Bald Knob (1,801 ft) before continuing on the summit of Turtleback Mountain (2,203 ft.) and then taking a meandering descent via the Turtleback Mountain, Faraway Mountain, Lower Bridle Path, Brook Walk and Shannon Brook Trails.  The windy finish with many wonderful views of the waterfalls along Shannon Brook was well worth it.

The ice proved interesting for this transplant from Arkansas
These beautiful trails through the Ossipee Mountains are an ideal location for day hikes with the foster dogs who are residing just over the border in neighboring Maine.  I am extremely grateful to the foster families who often drive the hikers to a destination closer to the trail head.  With a little less driving required for our adventures, the dogs and I are able to spend additional time in the mountains.

Now that winter has arrived and the days are shorter, we like to finish up while there is still daylight available to snap photos of our descent.  Of course, we are prepared with headlamp, flashlight and various other gear should we encounter a delay or unexpected weather that would cause us to be hiking later than planned.

Carley modeling her "Adopt Me" bandana
If my gear was at all lacking prior to the the holidays, you can rest assured that there were plenty of hiking goodies under the Foster Dog Summit tree this year.  My recent increase in hiking adventures combined with the fact that I am married to an Eagle Scout, meant that my holiday had an overall theme of "Be Prepared".  Of course, the dogs also got a bit of marketing gear for their upcoming adventures.  I would like to thank Almost Home Rescue for their gift of the "Adopt Me" bandanas.  Carley is proudly wearing one in this photo taken at the summit of Turtleback Mountain.

We only encountered a couple other hikers on our weekday/holiday trek.  The initial forecast for high winds probably kept a lot of people from venturing out this day.  However, we were fortunate in that the winds did not really start to pick up until we were nearing the end of our descent.   

Carley is heading home along with her sister Juney!
After we had already planned for Carley to go on a hike to Turtleback Mountain at the end of last week, a couple of hikers from Maine came along on the internet and made an application to adopt both Carley and her sister Juney.  I kept my fingers crossed for Carley and Juney during our entire hike knowing that their application was under review that day.  By the time we finished our hike, her new family had already been approved, and Carley and Juney will be heading to a new home with a hiking family later this month.  I am so excited for this sister pair, and I hope to encounter them both out on the trails in the near future!  A photo album of Carley's journey is available online.

Carley on the Brook Walk Trail
While Carley and Juney have found their forever homes, there are still Foster Dog Summit hikers awaiting similar good fortune.  Please consider learning and sharing more about Tyson, Tipper, Sage and Marvin in the year in review blog post here

See you on the trails!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back and Hiking Forward

Tyson looking for a home in 2012
As I look back on 2011 and the first six months of hiking and blogging with Foster Dog Summit, I want to extend a special thank you to everyone who has supported my efforts to help foster dogs hike their way into homes.  Whether you have followed this blog, shared the posts on Facebook or Twitter, told your friends and/or politely listened to my pitch if I happened to cross your path on the trails, please know that you have made a difference in the lives of many dogs.

Tipper is ready for a family of her own
All efforts to increase the awareness of foster dogs waiting for adoptive homes has a profound impact on the number of lives that can be saved through adoption.  My hiking and blogging efforts have certainly had a direct impact on some of the dogs being adopted either by a person I met on a trail or by someone whose decision to adopt was influenced by a trip report that I posted.  For these direct results, I am extremely grateful and inspired to continue hiking with foster dogs.

However, I know that my greater impact is in making more people aware that homeless dogs can thrive in foster homes, and that they are temporary living situations that far exceed the level of care and socialization that dogs would receive if they had to wait in a cage at an overcrowded animal shelter.  Thank you to all of the foster care families who provide temporary homes for the dogs who are awaiting permanent placement.

Sage has resolved to find a family in 2012!
Initially, I worried about how I could hike with foster dogs and then not want to adopt them all myself after spending several hours with them on the trails.  I would have happily adopted every single one of the hikers if I could, but I have not been saddened by the fact that I cannot adopt them all.  Instead, I am thrilled to be a part of the "village" it takes to place a homeless dog in a new home.

Recently, I read a wonderful blog post by the non-profit organization Stubby Dog in which they pay tribute to the everyday heroes that foster families are for the rescue groups with which they volunteer.  The tribute reads in part, "They do their best to balance holding tight and letting go. It is a tricky dance to care so deeply for a guest, since dogs stay forever in our hearts. But when people tell them, 'I couldn’t foster because it would be too hard to give the dog up.' They say, 'How can it be harder than knowing a dog died because no foster home stepped up?' And that is why they do it time and again."

Marvin is excited to find a forever home
The entire moving tribute to the dedication of foster home providers is available here.

Here in New England, when I am asked about the process by which people can become foster families, I refer them to inquire with Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. or Almost Home Rescue to complete a foster home application.   Thank you to all of the foster families who have stepped up or are considering stepping up for a dog in need.

Since I began hiking and blogging back in July 2011, I have gone on a total of 20 hikes with 18 different dogs - 14 of these hikers have found permanent homes while 4 are still waiting patiently for a family to call their own.  You can view the entire album of adopted hikers.

If you or someone close to you has resolved to adopt a dog in the New Year, please have them consider one of the four fabulous hiking hounds that I have had the privilege to share the trails with recently.  You can visit each of their most recent hikes and obtain additional information by clicking on their names here - Tyson, Tipper, Sage and Marvin - or by clicking on their photo captions above.

Happy New Year!  We look forward to seeing you on the trails in 2012.