Author: Katie Houston @mosspetal
#MyDogStory - @mosspetal
If you didn’t make a family on your thru hike did you even really thru hike? You’ve heard of a tramily, I just happened to keep mine close even after the hike was over.
Legs and I decided to hike a section of the Trail that I had missed due to injury in September. In Virginia. In the middle of a terrible drought. Aside from the occasional water cache left by kind hearted trail angels and local hostel owners, we found our bottles dry the majority of the trip.
A few days into the hike, we were about 20 miles south of Trent’s Grocery, a popular stop on trail simply because of the proximity to food. Give thru hikers a half mile hike for a burger, you’ll draw a crowd. About mid way through the day, I had sent Legs ahead of me up a small climb, with the familiar send off, “See you at the top!”
Not too long after, soon enough that I could still see my partner a half dozen switchbacks above me, I saw him stop to chat with a man who had multiple dogs with him. I quickly heard Legs’ shout, “Hey babe!! Do you want a dog??” I didn’t even think. “YES!!!” I shouted back up the climb. A few minutes later I found myself approaching Legs, the strange scruffy man, and three tired-looking huskies. There were two large ones with blue eyes and white fur and a much smaller one that was mostly black with white fur on her belly, chest, and the lower half of her face. The black fur surrounded her eyes which made her look even more like a small wolf.
Legs had the leash of the black one in his hand and in his other was a folded piece of paper and a block of cheese with a small amount of dog food. The paper was her pure bread paper work. “SIBERIAN HUSKY”, it read. “BLAND COUNTY, VA,” the county we were in. “BIRTH DATE: 2 DEC 2016”. She was almost 3 years old!
“Her name’s Maggie but she don’t know it,” he said, dismissively. “Yeah, I just can’t take care of all three of ’em anymore. Been runnin’ the finances. She was just going to the pound the next town I got to.” I looked at Legs excitedly. I knew whether or not we could keep her, we would at least be taking her out of this situation. “We’ll take her!” I practically shouted. The man started walking down the trail in the opposite direction. “Oh. And she’s a bit bowl aggressive. Watch out for that. Good luck!” And off he went, no love lost.
I bent down to immediately start loving on the small husky. There were large patches of undercoat that were falling off her sides and rump, and a large, heavy, rusted carabiner was hanging from her neck. We lifted it, and found her chest was a dark grey color. “I’m pretty sure she’s supposed to have white fur there… I wonder how long it’s been since she’s had that off.” Legs quickly dug in his pack and pulled out his bear line with a small carabiner attached to it. He switched the two out, putting the old one in his trash bag. “At least now she’ll be one pound lighter.”
We hiked on to the next shelter, quickly realizing how exhausted she was. With no one else around, we tied her to our long bear line and gave her the run of the place. I spent the next half hour picking out the thick clumps of undercoat fur that she was desperately trying to shed.
“I think Peach wants her!” Legs called out from the shelter, referring to a man he had met thru hiking earlier in the year. He had put a notice out to his Instagram followers asking if anyone was interested in adopting her. “Oh good!” I said, already knowing full well this was going to be my dog.
After finishing up our hike, I took Thru to get all of her shots and vaccinations and to test for heartworm or other parasites. She tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, a condition transmitted to dogs from ticks and one that thru hikers live in fear of. “She really is the ultimate trail dog,” Legs said. “She even comes with Lyme disease!”
I tell people the story of Thru and how we got her and I always hear how much luck must’ve been on her side. Not to get all bumper sticker reading “My rescue rescued me” levels of sentimental, but I know luck was on our side when we came across this dog that didn’t even know her name, how to sit, what belly rubs were, or how to eat until she’s full. Because this dog has pack-fulls of love to give and now she can finally show that to everyone who meets her.