Trekking with shepherd dogs has its own charm. Sometimes, you may feel thankful simply for their company. Here’s why.
It was 6 am and four of us were descending from the mountain. We reached the banks of a raging rivulet. This rivulet wasn’t supposed to be on our trail. Something seemed amiss. We were lost. I wandered aimlessly, hoping to find a shallow spot, from where we could cross the rivulet. Several minutes passed by in vain.
A while later, I heard a loud and frantic bark. It was Snowy, our camp site dog, standing at a distance. I coaxed her to my direction. “Maybe she knows the way to the camp site,” I thought. Suddenly she stopped next to the river bed and growled again. Snowy carefully hopped over a boulder with authority, as she reached the other side of the bank. Thankfully, water wasn’t deep in this section. The water was grey with silt and freezing cold. But after the initial jolt, it was a cakewalk. Somehow, we were back on track. Snowy had saved the day!
Here are a few qualities of dogs that make them ideal trek companions.
1. Fearless protectors
It is good to have a dog around your camp. They are intuitive and can sense danger. I was camping with my team at Kheer-ganga during the trek to Pin Parvati Pass. We suddenly heard loud and aggressive barking of the five local dogs accompanying us. A Himalayan bear was trying to enter the camp site sniffing for food. The dogs did their best to confuse the great beast and keep him at bay. And also warned my team of the predator lurking outside.
2. Best guides
Himalayan dogs are accustomed to the trails. They know the way, since its their territory. So, it is always reassuring to have them along while trekking. They calm you down considerably.
Contrary to popular belief, local dogs are well-mannered and disciplined. They are friendly, but never demanding. “We were accompanied by two such wonderful dogs on our trek. Never once did I hear these dogs bark or sniff around us when we were eating. They were so well-disciplined and self-contained, it looked as though they were in a state of peace,” opines Nikita Naresh, from her Kedarkantha trekking experience.
4. Mood boosters
These furry giants can give you the best hugs on treks. “They are the best mood boosters around the campsite,” says Rohit Anand, a regular trekker. “Any trek feels incomplete if I haven’t seen a dog in the camp site. A warm fuzzy dog that I would love to pet and play with,” he smiles.