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Not our dog joins us on the hike-what would you do?

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Looking for what you would do....


Doing a serious hike yesterday with DH and two friends. This is a hike that was going to summit at 13,200 with elevation gain of 3,800 ft. Time was an issue - to get up to the top and back in good weather and before dark. We were not moving fast since two friends came from sea level. Met a group of around 10 people with their choc. lab about 1/3 way up at a mountain lake. Dog was really friendly and off the leash.We did not bring either of our dogs with us concerned that the hike would be to much. We had 1/3 through forest and then 2/3 above tree line to summit from the lake. While we were still in the forest part the choc lab came up and joined us. We listened for their group but the forest was silent. One in our group said that they must allow their dog to go off ahead. Because we had the above treeline ahead of us (thinking we could easily see the group) we continued on and the dog stayed with us. Again I stress - we were not flying along. We were going at a pace that easily allowed me to mark the trail as we went. Got above the tree line to switchbacks - still no large group. Met hikers going down - sent word with each group to tell the large group that their dog had joined us. The dog had a tag with phone number - we tried calling it but since they were still in the forest there was no service. Dog also was carrying a pack. We gave her water and food. When we got to the crest - there were other hikers coming from different directions. It became obvious that this dog would follow anyone as long as they were on a trail. One time when we stopped- I had to run her down ( at 13,200 ft) to keep her with us. I then rigged up a line to her. We waited about 45 minutes at the top - hearing from other hikers that a big group was coming up. We started to descend and met the owners. Yeah! They said they did not realize when she went missing - so they backtracked a while in an attempt to find her. They said it was also unusual for her to go off that way - but from what I saw at the mountain top she was happy to follow anyone on a trail.


1) Would you have gone back down the mountain to find the group when the dog first appeared?


2) Would you have stopped where you were when the dog first appeared - waiting for the group?


3) Would you have figured that the dog was not your responsibility - and let it fend for itself? One of the hikers in my group got ballastic with me when I put a bungee on the dog. He said I was being obsessive. (I did not want to have to run down the dog again at altitude)


If my dog was missing I would have been beside myself. I still wonder today if I did the right thing. I am the strongest hiker in the group and possibly could have hiked down with the dog , then back up to rejoin my group. I hestitate to do that since rule one is that you do not separate. Plus - I have the best wood sense- knowing where we are on the trail and when you should mark. I am always in the lead when we need to find the path. I was also the one who was most concerned about the safety of the dog. What to do?


Sorry it was so long..... probably can tell it upset me.

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I think you did the right thing, staying with your group and keeping the dog with you safe was the best decision. IMO, all other choices put either you or the dog at higher risk, either by you leaving your group and going off alone or by leave the dog go off on it's own.



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Sounds about right.


Even on a trail, you don't want to go splitting off from your group - People can and have died that way. You made sure the dog was safe and would stay with your group, and took reasonable efforts to find it's owner(s). Had you gotten all the way back to base/parking having missed the owners along the way, no doubt you'd have still managed to find them eventually.


All considered, I'd say you did a fine job.

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Had a similar experience a few weeks ago. Was horse-sitting for the weekend at a friends' place (very rural, in a canyon with no other houses in sight) and went outside Saturday morning to find Niki playing with a pitbullish-looking dog. No collar or tags, skinny but not starved-looking, so I figured he was a dump-off. Went with us on a long hike, sometimes going off on his own for half an hour or so at a time, but always rejoining us, came back to the house and lazed around 'til dark. I fed & watered him, of course, and left him curled up on the deck when we went to bed, figuring that I had another dog...


In the morning he was gone, and when the friends got back, they told me that he belonged to a neighbor about a mile down the canyon.

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