Squirrel and raccoon hunting season has been over for a few months, and now my Laika is out of the job until running (non-shooting) season reopens in July, and squirrel hunting season opens in September and raccoon October. He’s not the kind of dog who is okay with a short jaunt around the neighborhood and chilling in the house or yard for the rest of the day. He needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to be a happy dog.
Now don’t get me wrong here, Flint has an excellent off-switch and is happy to chill for several hours in the yard, but that needs to be accompanied with daily activity of some sort, or he will mope and pester until I get annoyed enough to take him into the woods. None of my other current dogs are like that, they’re happy to do nothing all day.
Anywho, since we are not making 10-15 miles in the woods every day/night anymore, I needed a fast way to exercise Flint that didn’t involve a vehicle or bike that would also give him a mental workout. Enter the backpack!
This is an old Ruffwear Palisades that I’ve had for about five years(?) or so. It’s a pretty durable pack that has a base harness with removable bags. It came with a couple water bladders and has plenty of room for other stuff in the bags. I wanted to wait until he was at least a year old before I started packing with him, but life got in the way and I kinda forgot about it until recently.
The first time Flint wore it there was nothing in it, but it quickly became apparent that he would need some weight since he acted like it wasn’t even there and continued to bomb down the trails and crash through the brush despite the somewhat awkward thing attached to his back.
So I added the two water bladders, which weighed roughly 5lbs when you include the pack. It worked, for a couple days, then he got used to that and continued to bomb and crash through the woods.
Okay, lets add some more. Another 2lbs of water, and the same result. It’s damn hard to actually tire this dog out, but at least he was getting more of a workout on our shorter woods walks now than when he doesn’t carry the pack.
This is the biggest issue I have with the pack. The bags have little velcro straps on the backsides to hold them to the straps of the harness to prevent them from swinging around when worn, but since Flint goes off-trail a lot and the brush is quite thick here, that often means one (or both) of the pack bags get yanked loose and they flop over on one side. He has absolutely no fucks to give about that though, and will keep on truckin’ despite all the weight dragging on one side. I have to stop him and call him over or he’ll keep exploring with the pack all fucked up like that.
He also doesn’t distinguish between a hunt and a walk or hike, he is always in go-mode and will tree raccoons with that pack on.
I’d like to eventually get back into overnight backpacking with Flint. I did a few trips with Conker, but now that I live in Michigan, which has very few cool places to go for a real and challenging hike without other people around, I’ll probably have to wait until I leave this bullshit state to have a good backpack adventure with Flint.