Friday, 6 July 2012

Dog goes to mountain

In September 2011 an ambition was achieved, following numerous visits to the Lake District, reaching the peak of a mountain had always been a step too far.

Blue, a German Shepherd aged 3 1/2 years old completed an unbelievable feat, given the fact a little under three years ago had become lame. Spinal surgery was required for a disc problem in his lower spine, a long slow recovery was still in progress.

Blue had managed long walks, nine miles in one go was his longest to date, but this day was to be his biggest yet.

We were setting out to conquer Skiddaw in the Lake District, England's 4th highest mountain, Blue had previously successfully ascended Latrig, Dodd, Barrow, Lords Seat and some lesser hills.

Standing at an impressive 3,054 feet above sea level, this was also higher than my wife, Sue, and I had ascended also.

Lower path ascending Skiddaw from Latrig car park

Blue ready for the walk

Not the greatest of starts, it was mid morning when we arrived at the car park, it was chocker, in an attempt to turn around, our all terrain 4x4 Freelander was beached, soft ground had given way below the front nearside wheel, with the opposite corner at the rear now two feet off the road service.

Now this was a sample of fellow walkers helping out. With no hesitation three guys came over, while standing on the bumper at the rear, given the necessary counter balance, I was able to reverse back onto the road, where was Blue, just sat waiting patiently in the back of the car watching these lads jumping up and down on the bumper, not a murmur.

Finding a suitable parking space further back down the road, our ascent on the mighty Skiddaw began.

We ascended from Latrigg car park, following the broad path, there is no need to navigate, Blue knows the way, or so you would think the way he was pulling on his lead.

Passing sheep along the lower path, past the memorial, Blue gives them a cursory glance, but no more than that, he has got better things to do rather than a few Herdies (Herdwick Sheep).

Along the Blue lapped up the admiring glances, also taking the opportunity to eye up the local four legged talent.

As the aim was to ascend Skiddaw, we bypassed Little Man, we were going for the summit of Skiddaw. Although we gave Blue plenty of opportunities to rest, he did not seemed phased, he even enjoyed watching the para gliders passing overhead.

Para glider over Skiddaw with Derwent Water beyond

Blue watching the world go by

Our walk was about 2-3 hours, and we achieved a goal, we never thought possible, we reached the shingly surface that covered the top slopes of Skiddaw. Further along the summit towards the North ridge was the trig  point, to reach this was going to be astounding, it was at this point I have to admit my throat was feeling narrow and dry.

We made it, Blue had ascended England's fourth highest mountain.

Blue and Sue arrive at the summit of Skiddaw

Blue and I on Skiddaw, with Scotland in the background.

After the customary photo shoot and admiration of the fantastic scenery, we began our return.

This is when it had hit me that dryness of the throat, was pure emotion, Blue had achieved a remarkable feat, I now knew he was going to have many more days like today, free from restrictions, he had recovered, his back was no longer an obstacle for him.

I can honestly say at that time I was not able to speak, merely reflect on what it had taken to get Blue from the operating table to here. Both my wife Sue and I had given this beautiful dog the opportunity he deserved, and together our patience and determination was rewarded.

Blue will never be a mountain rescue dog, but given his size, 45 kilogrammes, he will not face many more demanding walks, because now he has proved, he can do it.

Love is......sharing your apple on the way home

With future holidays planned, a return to the Lake District in September 2012 is much awaited, our plan is to ascend Helvellyn, the next highest Mountain