A Dog Chooses His Owner (Part Two) – Ernie Goes Camping

“On a Mish” #366 A Dog Chooses His Owner (Part Two). Dogs Hill (Almost). Hakatere Conservation Park. 10.2.2023. This time last year I would have never thought that I would have four little legs follow me on adventures into the mountains. Also this time last year I didn’t think I would be back on the sidelines due to my crappy hip and back. The road back to a healthy body has been less lonely lately as by chance a dog named Ernie has decided he would like to join me on my journey through life. But for that to happen Ernie needs to prove that he can go ‘On a Mish’…

After pulling up and setting up camp we had a brief break and team meeting to make a plan for the last light of the day. We only had a small weather window to get out and about before either darkness or wetness would make the experience not very enjoyable. Rain was forecast for that evening and as time went on the sky above Hakatere darkened.

The both of us hadn’t had much exercise that day, so it was a question of ‘where’ do I go for a walk instead of ‘should’ I go for a walk.

We decided on a quick wander up Dogs Hill(1067m). To start with I didn’t want to go very far as my hip was sapping my motivation. But once we got going and I got warmed up, the side mish became very enjoyable.

I had Ernie on a long-lead and he followed me as I led the way up the hill. The first part of the scramble was over / through long tussock, in places I could only see the tip of Erine’s tail sticking out above the mountain scrub. The uphill action didn’t seem to faze the little fella and with his tail wagging with each little step continued to climb and he had a doggy smile from one little floppy ear to the other.

All seemed to be going well until we hit the elevation of the prickly plants. Up until this point Every plant Ernie had come across he had been able to push through and carry on. Now the bushes had spikes and he wasn’t able to barge on through without hurting himself.

In places high on the slopes of Dogs Hill he would get trapped in a maze of matagouri and spaniard and I would have to carry him to a safer place. I thought about carrying him as we weren’t too far from the top, but even though he is small he still seems to weigh a lot! I saw that the experience wasn’t as fun as it was lower down, so after a couple of photos we turned back and headed for less spiky terrain.

Closer to the car I let Ernie go at his own pace and at times I would lose sight of him. After a whistle I would see patches of tussock moving unnaturally in my direction. It was safe to say he loved the lower, less scratchy environment around our camp.

Not long after returning to base it began to rain, but this was no issue as we both retreated to the car for a dinner in the dry. After dinner it was time to retreat to the tent and that meant it was time to see how Ernie would go on his first night in the wild.

As the rain tapped the top of the tent we drifted off to sleep and one of us seemed to be using a lot more bedroll than necessary!

During the night Ernie needed a bathroom break and I stopped him just before he clawed his way through the fabric from the inside out of the tent. In my sleepiness I let him out, and as he disappeared into the darkness I just managed to grab his lead.

Early-ish the next morning we woke to strangely cold conditions. A cool wet dew coated the ground and after a couple of back and forth trips from the car to the tent and back, I noticed that the poor little fella was shivering. Up until this point he had spent nearly every morning of his life in a dry house and wasn’t used to the chill of a morning in the mountains.

I put him in the car and fired up the heater then after packing up the last of my gear we hit the track back to reality.

Overall I think Ernie really enjoyed his camping mish and will be keen to go on more. However I now know to steer clear of pointy plants and I also need to get the little fella a jacket to keep in warm on chilly mornings.

A successful mission for both dog and owner. I am very glad that Ernie the dog is now part of the NzHikes Team!

Early Morning in Hakatere

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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