hiking with a dog

Hiking with a Dog: An Interview with Jamie and Xena

Hiking with a Dog: interview with HikingGirlWithDog! (AKA Jamie and Xena)

The following is an interview with Jamie and Xena from the blog hikinggirlwithdog. Jamie’s blog is full of stories from the trail and of her experiences hiking with her dog, Xena. Give the interview a read and be sure to check out her site! There’s bound to be some content that will either make you smile or generally inform you on how to go hiking with a dog:

When did you get into hiking?

I always enjoyed hiking when someone else organized it, only because I didn’t know where to go to get the information I needed.  In 2009, I started hiking with my sister.  We used LocalHikes web site back then to research trails in the LA area.  It was the only resource at that time gave us what we needed before choosing a trail.  We were beginners so we needed all the help we could get such as parking info, trail condition updates and etc. and we found other hikers’ reviews helpful especially when the trail information was not up to date.

How did you come up with idea for your blog?

As soon as the vet cleared Xena for hiking around 9 months old, we started hiking together.  I just assumed that dogs were allowed on all parks and trails.  It’s outdoors, you know.  And I found out quickly, that’s not the case.  So my search for dog-friendly trails began.  I started to get questions from some of the hikers I meet on the trail.  They asked me if I hike with my dog often and if I knew any other dog-friendly trails nearby.  I always seemed to have the information they were looking for.  Then life happened.  In two months, I lost a job and became single after a long time.  All of sudden I had copiousness of free time which I was not used to.  I hiked a lot.  Being in the nature cleared my head and balanced me.  One day, one of my sisters casually suggested that I should start a blog.  Then a few weeks later, my little hiking blog was born.

What are some of the benefits of hiking with your dog Xena?

Gosh, so many!  The obvious benefit is that it keeps both of us in shape.  But, there are invisible benefits too.  It’s so much more fun!!  I just love exploring nature with her and watching her in her element.  She gives me the most wonderful smiles.  You can see many of those moments in my blog.  Her happiness motivates and inspires me to do more and explore new places.  Because it’s fun, it never feels like a workout.  Studies have confirmed that when you interact with a dog, endorphins rise and stress levels fall.  That’s very true.  We are at our happiest when we hike together.  This emotional connection nurtures a deeper bond and trust.

What are some of your favourite places that you’ve hiked?

We like Big Bear Lake area.  It’s only 2 hours away from L.A. and it’s dog-friendly.  We enjoy exploring trails there.  Xena especially loved Castle Rock trail.  We recently hiked to Potato Mountain and to Sunset Peak in Mt Baldy area.  Mountain views are absolutely amazing there!  For ocean views, we frequent trails in Portuguese Bend Nature Reserve in Rancho Palos Verdes and trails in Malibu.  They make great sunset hikes.

Your experience with the Rattle Snake seemed pretty scary, are there any similar encounters that made you glad to have Xena around?

I don’t know if I was glad to have Xena around when we had a close call with a rattlesnake last year.  I was worried about her the whole time.  Only thing on my mind was to keep her safe.  Luckily, it ended well and she was not interested in the snake.  Whew. 

As a woman, I don’t feel comfortable hiking solo even though I really enjoy the solitude when I hike.  Having Xena with me, I never worry about my safety.  She is always on the lookout when a stranger is in the immediate vicinity.  I only have to look out for wild creatures.

Hiking is arduous for humans, is it tough on Xena? Are there any items you bring to make it easier?

Some dogs have endless energy but Xena isn’t like that.  At first, I only took her on short hikes with not much of elevation gain and slowly built her endurance.  The biggest challenge for her is the heat.  Living in the desert climate isn’t easy for a dog with black fur so we hike early in the morning even during winter.  Winter isn’t really cold here as you know.  

As for gears, she wears Ruffwear Webmaster harness usually.  When she needs help to jump over a tough area, I can use the handle to lift her up.  And when she starts to show signs of getting hot, I swap the harness with the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest.  I use it on her practically all year around to prevent her from overheating.  It works like a hat for her.  Hydration is very important so I pack coconut water mixture (coconut water (30%)/water (70%), right now this is the ratio I like) in my Camelbak and we share it on the trail.  It gives both of us electrolytes and potassium among other goodness.  And, of course, I bring delicious trail treats for the fuel!

hiking with a dog
what a cutie pie!

Out of all the photos you have with Xena, which is your favourite?

That’s a tough one…  I’d say it’s the one that I took of her in the car.  I introduced trail running to 4 months old Xena. She did more pouncing than running but we had so much fun together nonetheless.  I still remember her beautiful sparkling black eyes staring at me when we got back in the car and my heart just melted.  It still has the same effect on me after 4 years later.

What’s a random fun fact about Xena and yourself that most of your readers don’t know?

We share an apple together almost every day after dinner.  It’s our dessert.  When she chews, she makes the most delicious sound that makes your mouth watery! 

So there we have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview and either had a chuckle or learned about how to go hiking with a dog. 

Alec Schwinghamer

Alec Schwinghamer

I love dogs as much as they love squirrels