Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Preparing For The Winter Ahead

Cullen making his way atop Mt. Tecumseh (Jan. 2012)
Today we woke to a cool and moist morning, the December air smothered by a dense fog that hovered above the open field that lies just outside my front door. Feeling like an early November morning instead of an early December, but that is what makes New Hampshire so unique, you never know exactly what you are in store for. I had planned on a morning run at Heads Pond with Cullen, but the clouds and air were clearly demonstrating rain is seconds away from falling making me toggle with the idea of actually going. When I looked down at Cullen and asked “you want to go for a run”, his eyes went wide and his nubby tail cruised back and forth a million miles and hour, and he immediately ran for the door (that meant yes). As I began to pack our things for our morning cardio session I realized if not for Cull I most likely would have canceled this run.

That is what makes Cull Dog truly inspirational to me. He doesn’t let things get in his way of doing what he wants. He pushes forward regardless of any situation and does so with the greatest appreciation. Here is a Min Pin who should instinctively and naturally hate the water and the cold but is begging to go for a run in it, and here I am a 23yr old who is built for such things thinking twice about running in a little bit of cold rain. However, due to his great aspirations I was able to enjoy a peaceful run, a family of ducks swimming aimlessly, and a forest that offered me a sense of gratitude. However, Cullen and I have been preparing for more superior challenges that lie in our near future.      

The past couple of week’s winter has started to make herself known here once again. The temperatures are steadily declining and the weather is becoming even less predictable. Which means Cullen and I have not been back up the Whites since Eisenhower and Pierce, unfortunately. Cullen doesn’t have the ability to acclimate to the colder weather as easily as other dogs. Min Pins are notoriously susceptible to the wintry temperatures. Due to Cull’s thin, sleek coat of fur and lean body build he doesn’t have the essential and required traits that allow him to thrive during these harsh winter months, and hiking to the top of a 4,000 footer only means more brutally cold temps and ruthless winds. However, neither Cullen nor I have the ability to sit still. He may not possess the genetics that allow him to conquer mountains during winter, however and more importantly he does possess the will and attitude to do what no one would expect; continue hiking the Granite State’s highest peaks.

The past couple of weeks I have been taking him on more local hikes, getting him outside as much as I can, and trying to get him to become accustomed to winter temps. However, our training goes beyond just that. Due to the fact Cull has a hard time during New England’s winters we have gotten him several different pieces of gear to compensate, which is where the training comes in. Dogs obviously don’t take to wearing other materials naturally, and in this case Cullen is no different. Last year we had purchased him a snowsuit designed to keep his warmth. This bodysuit is made with microfleece which is extremely soft and comfortable, and exactly what any good hiker would use as a base layer. We also got him a pair of dog boots, which didn’t exactly go over too well for the first few weeks. He was famous for biting them off or outlandishly kicking his legs to get them off. Now every winter there is work to be done getting him used to wearing his equipment, and preparing him for the challenges ahead.
Due to Cullen’s fearless animation and regal bearing there is no doubt that he will be able to continue to do what he loves most during the next several months. We just now have to be more cautious of the weather, and choose our hikes wisely. The love I have for hiking the White Mountains is unexplainable, but it doesn’t compare to the love and respect I have for Cull Dog. I would never put him in any situation that would set him at risk. We started this journey as a team and it will be finished that same way. If the mountains are too relentless this winter we will wait patiently, because where Cullen can’t go I won’t go. Nevertheless, I know he is too extraordinary and too hard-hitting to let some snow and falling temperatures stop him from setting the record of being the smallest K-9 to stand atop all 48 4,000 footers the White Mountains have in store for us. Our posts about our mountain adventures may be far and few these next couple months, but that doesn’t mean we are taking a break. We are always out doing what we do best, and planning more challenges for the future.

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