Monday, December 9, 2013

Highest Summit - A Tribute to My Soul Mutt

Bandit and I on our final hike together in 2012
Laconia, NH – Bandit “Bub” Mulkern, 16, died December 4, 2013 following a courageous battle against a brain tumor and renal failure.  At the conclusion of one last car ride, Bandit was humanely euthanized with dignity and grace as he rested in the familiarity of his favorite backseat.  He is survived by his parents David and Lisa-Marie, canine brother Roadie, and feline sister Sasha.  Bandit was preceded in death by his feline brother Ivan in 2007 and his canine sister Neely in May.

Bandit was a stunning mix of German shepherd and Labrador retriever who was born in August 1997.  He spent the first year of his life with a rather uncaring and unworthy owner who allowed Bandit to roam freely and then refused to claim him from the stray hold of the local animal shelter by stating, “I don’t want him back.  You can keep him.”  Within a few weeks of being surrendered, a young newlywed stopped by the shelter and met Bandit - the man of her dreams.   The ultimate wedding gift moved into his forever home a few days later.

During the first eight months with his new family, Bandit mastered the arts of walking on a leash without pulling too much; staying in his own yard most of the time; riding in any car that had a door left open long enough for him to climb in; and chasing a ball through the air, across the ground, off a dock, and under the snow.  Bandit’s feline brother Ivan needed to provide only a few firm yet loving swats to the snout before a strong bond was formed.
Still something was missing, and Bandit longed for a canine sidekick.  So in June 1999, he and his family traveled to a nearby animal shelter.  While Dave and Lisa-Marie discussed options with the shelter staff, Bandit and Neely found one another - the dynamic duo was formed.  For the next 14 years, Bandit and Neely were inseparable as they embarked on a series of adventures.

He spent his summers as a lakeside legend eager to demonstrate his dock diving skills for passing boaters and taking time out to tour the lake by boat and by kayak.  Later in life, Bub discovered perhaps his favorite toy - no day on the lake was complete without a high speed tour aboard the wave runner.  In other seasons, he traveled New England by hiking mountains near and far with his parents and, of course, his beloved Neely.  What really defined Bandit through all his days was his lust for life.  He embraced everything he did and everyone he met.

As anyone who ever visited his humble abode can attest, Bandit loved company.  Hanging out with Neely and his people was great, but throw in a few guests, and you’ve got yourself a party.  Bub was the mayor of party town.  Each guest received Bandit’s personal attention, and he was always in tune with their needs.  If you looked a little warm, he was always available to provide a lakeside shower.  If your arm was a bit tight, Bandit would bring a ball for you to throw.  If he found you on a couch looking lonely, he’d slide right in and keep you company.  For the more active visitors, Bandit was always willing to hop in the kayak and let you paddle him around or to jump in the boat and take you down to his sandbar.  No matter who invited you, Bandit was your host.

There will be no calling hours.  Services will be private.  Family and friends are invited to celebrate Bandit’s life by never passing up an opportunity to have a good time.  Bandit’s family would like to extend their gratitude to everyone who treated Bandit as one of their own and welcomed his friendship and hospitality.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. and/or to Almost Home Rescue of Maine so that more homeless dogs can be sheltered in foster homes while waiting to be adopted.  Watch a video tribute to Bandit's life below or by clicking here.

See you on the trails, Bub.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sunshine with Sammy on Mt. Israel

Sammy soaking in the sunshine at the summit of Mt. Israel
With a slow start to Spring and having been away from the trails over the past several weeks, I was excited to soak in the sun recently with Sammy en route to the summit of Mt. Israel (2,630 ft.).  My hiking companion has been waiting very patiently to see his report from our trek along the Wentworth Trail that took place back on May 18, 2013.  Since I have been busy with caring for my almost 16-year old dog's health issues the last few weeks, I am grateful for Sammy's patience.

All smiles along the Wentworth Trail
Three-year old Sammy is a sweet mix of shepherd and hound who is searching for his second chance family.  He is very much a ladies man and continues to make great strides with the men in his life.  Sammy greeted me as if he had known me forever and was very comfortable and well behaved during the car ride to the trailhead.  

Braving the black flies
He is doing remarkably well in his foster home and working to overcome his suspicions of some men he encounters.  Knowing that Sammy was not totally comfortable with all men and may bark at them, I chose an out and back trail to a peak that would be less crowded than its more popular neighboring summits of Mts. Percival and Morgan.  Taking an out and back route with a dog who is overcoming some fears lessens the number of unfamiliar people and places that he will encounter. 

Enjoying the views from above
Our plan worked well, and we were fortunate in that the first fellow hikers we encountered on the trail had previous experience with a dog who had some fears of men.  This friendly couple and their well behaved pair of Labrador retrievers kindly gave a little bit more room on the trail as Sammy and I made our way past them.  Sammy was fine, and I made a point of staying between him and the unfamiliar man on the trail.  The rest of our journey was filled mostly with black flies and only a handful of other hikers.  Sammy did well walking past others on the trail and even tolerated a rather boisterous off leash dog that quickly ran up to greet us as we approached the summit.

On the ride home
Our return trip was similarly uneventful, and Sammy is looking forward to more hikes in the future.  Of course, I always hope that each of my hikers finds a new home before they have an opportunity to visit the trails with me again.  However, I would welcome the chance to spend another sunny day with Sammy.  An album of photos from our hike is available here.

To learn more about Sammy, view his profile here.  If you would like to support other rescue dogs in need through becoming a foster home or by making a donation, visit Almost Home Rescue.

See you on the trails!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Tribute to My Inspiration for Foster Dog Summit

Neely and I hiking Cannon Mountain
Laconia, NH – Neely “Puba” Mulkern, 15, died May 1, 2013 surrounded by her loving family.  She passed away suddenly yet peacefully along the shores of Lake Winnisquam where she had resided since June 1999.  She is survived by her parents David and Lisa-Marie, canine brothers Bandit and Roadie, and feline sister Sasha.  She was preceded in death by her feline brother Ivan in 2007.

Neely was born circa February 1998 in Grafton, New Hampshire.  She lived the first year of her life in cruel conditions where she did not have adequate shelter or nourishment.  In February 1999, she was surrendered to a local animal shelter along with three other dogs.  The person who surrendered them claimed that the pack of dogs had shown up in his yard as strays, but this statement was subsequently proven to be false.

In June 1999, after a four month wait inside the animal shelter and with the stress of kennel life taking its toll on her mental health, Neely’s luck began to change.  One day there appeared at the shelter, a handsome German shepherd/Labrador retriever mix that was trailed by his somewhat gullible humans.  While other dogs at the shelter cowered at the sight of the mighty beast, Neely seized her opportunity and began frolicking with her soon to be lifelong partner in crime Bandit.

The trauma of Neely’s first year of life presented some challenges as she acclimated to living indoors, riding in a car, and being left alone without her humans.  Neely embraced a holistic approach to her behavioral modification program and ultimately became an automobile aficionado, spectacular dock diver, avid hiker and accomplished sous chef.

Neely’s true gift was her gentle sweetness.  As anyone who ever had the privilege to visit Neely can attest, her brother Bandit specialized in greeting guests immediately upon their arrival while Neely preferred a more subtle and individualized approach.  For some visitors, that meant providing them with a refreshing shower on the dock.  For others, it meant lending assistance to finishing their lunch or dinner, or sharing their s’mores at the fire pit.  She was always willing to sample the unattended Margarita or mudslide and was constantly on the lookout for a spill.  For the rest of her visitors, Neely offered the opportunity to curl up on the couch or share a sleeping bag while they stared into her big brown eyes.

Through all of her countless adventures, Neely never backed down from a challenge and embraced each day with her can do spirit.  If you woke up with an urge to climb a 4,000-footer, she would lead the charge up that mountain.  Prefer to stay home and watch a football game, Neely would tell you to push over and make room on the couch.  Always friendly and accommodating to everyone she met, Neely will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by her family and friends.

There will be no calling hours.  Services will be private.  Family and friends are invited to celebrate Neely’s life by consuming a large quantity of their favorite food with wild abandon.  Neely’s family would like to extend their gratitude to everyone who waited patiently for the diamond in the rough to emerge and joined in celebrating her brilliance over the course of three decades.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Canine Guardians for Life, Inc. and/or to Almost Home Rescue of Maine  so that more homeless dogs can be sheltered in foster homes while waiting to be adopted. Learn more about foster dogs hiking for homes at 

Watch a video tribute to her life below or by visiting this link here -

See you on the trails, Neely.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thinking Spring with Petey on Pack Monadnock

Petey making his way on the snow covered trail.
Winter got a late start this year in New Hampshire, and it seems determined to stick around long after it has worn out its welcome.  The skiing conditions have been wonderful, but I am now ready for a change of season.  Last Sunday, I was determined to get a taste of Spring on the trails, so I headed south for Pack Monadnock (2,290 ft.) in the hopes that the trails would be mostly clear of the white stuff yet not too full of the muddy stuff.  What I found instead was much more snow from top to bottom than I had anticipated.  And while that would not otherwise have posed a problem, I also realized at the trailhead that my microspikes were not in the back of the car where I thought I had left them.

Petey questioning my preparedness
Thankfully, my boots have good tread and I was able to choose a route that was mostly in the sun.  So, my hiking companion Petey and I set out for the top of Pack Monadnock via an out and back 2.8 mile trip along the Marion Davis Trail.  While the trail was well packed and mostly slushy and not icy, the spikes would have made for a quicker descent.  Of course, I did not have to worry about Petey pulling on a leash or otherwise complicating our hike in any way.  So, we did not mind taking our time and carefully watching our steps along the way on such a beautiful and sunny day. 

Enjoying a sunny, dry section of the trail
We only encountered two other hikers on our way to the summit.  As I introduced my companion with, "This is Petey," the first hiker replied, "So am I, and so is he."  After chatting briefly with the Peters and asking that they share Petey's blog post with family and friends, we continued to the top of Pack Monadnock where we met with a few other hikers.  Petey kindly made the acquaintance of more hikers and posed for several photos.  He is a perfect gentleman in every way.

At the summit of Pack Monadnock
Found wandering as a stray in West Virginia last year, Petey made his way to New Hampshire late last fall and has been wintering in a foster home while waiting patiently for a family to adopt him.  Peter's early grey muzzle makes him appear older than his estimated six years of age, but he hikes like a dog half his age.  In addition to his distinguished appearance, Petey is completely friendly with everyone he encounters, including humans, canines and felines of all ages and sizes.  They say that 10 is the new 5 in dog ages, so the family who welcomes Petey into their home will have many happy, rewarding years of companionship ahead of them.

Smiling for the camera and the new friends he met!
You can learn more about Petey, share him with family and friends, and submit an application for adoption here on his Petfinder profile page. A full album of photos from Petey's hike to the top of Pack Monadnock is available online here at the Foster Dog Summit facebook page.  To support the efforts of Petey's rescue group with a contribution or to inquire about fostering a dog, please visit Canine Guardians for Life, Inc.

See you on the trails!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back with Buck on Catamount Hill

Buck enjoying the snow on Catamount Hill
After a work induced winter break lasting several weeks, I was looking forward to returning to the trails. My latest canine hiking companion Buck joined me along with my friend Karen for a snowshoe adventure to the top of Catamount Hill.  
Buck patiently waiting for us to decide which way to hike
Three year old Buck is a large Labrador retriever mix who recently arrived after an extended stay at a shelter in Arkansas.  From the very start of our trek through the snow, Buck did not show any signs of having a preference for the warmer climate he enjoyed in the South.  He handled the hike of a few miles in the snow as if he was born and raised in New England.

Nearing the summit and staying warm
As we made our way along the One Mile Trail en route to the Catamount Hill Trail, we encountered a few snowmobiles, but Buck was not at all bothered by the unfamiliar sights and sounds.  He also walked very politely on his leash and was as equally content in leading the way as he was in following the tracks of our snowshoes.

Buck's foster mom packed a warm and rather attractive winter coat for him to wear on his hike.  While the mild temperatures did not warrant an extra layer, I do regret not dressing Buck briefly for the sake of fashion to show off his coat!  And, as I have learned, adding a bit of color to a black dog often makes for a better photo, especially in low light conditions.

Clearing the obstacles in his path
Despite the snowfall and lack of sunlight, we still managed to take a number of photos during Buck's winter adventure that are available for viewing here.  I  had planned to have Buck wear his coat if we were given another opportunity to hike together.  However, I have since learned that I may not get a second hike with him because Buck has an adoption application pending.

Ready for the ride home!
We are hopeful for a perfect match and that Buck will be in a forever home very soon!  In the meantime, I invite you to visit the website for Almost Home Rescue to see the many other wonderful dogs waiting for forever homes.  

See you on the trails!