A Tri-Paw Tackles the New Hampshire Peaks
“Oh! She only has three legs!” a woman on the trail declared as my parents’ dog, Zoey, got close enough for her to see.
Without hesitation, my dad looked at the woman with a smile and said, “That’s one more than us!”, and we continued our sunset hike up the Welch-Dickey trail, riddled with tall boulders and steep rocks.
Zoey, a sweet-faced 35-pound rescue mutt, confidently clambered over the trail. Having filled in for my siblings and me as my parent’s adventure buddy since we all moved away, Zoey is experienced on these rugged White Mountain trails.
These trails that wind around the peaks of New Hampshire are the same ones my siblings and I grew up traversing as kids. As an officer in the U.S. military, I have spent much of my adult life overseas and far from my family. Similarly, my brother and sister both moved out of New England, chasing exciting jobs and opportunities. Although we stay connected through regular messages in our family group chat, I know my parents felt a hole in their household when they didn’t have any of us to explore with any more. Now, with Zoey, the highlight of my weekend is always pictures from my parents and Zoey at all our favorite childhood peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Zoey Joins the Pack
My parents got Zoey in 2021, a “tri-paw” rescue pup from Alabama. At first they fostered her when she arrived in New England, but quickly chose to adopt her when her sweet personality and compatibility with their other tri-paw pup, Nemo, became clear.
Nemo has a golden personality and brings joy into the lives of everyone around him. But his missing back leg causes increased pressure on his back and he shows signs of fatigue after short walks. Instead, he prefers hanging out at the lake and waiting by the fireplace for my parents to get back from their adventures. Soon after Zoey joined our family, it became clear that Zoey wasn’t physically limited by her tri-paw status. My parents began taking her out on short hikes, gauging her stamina and ability to navigate the difficult terrain in their favorite mountain range, the White Mountains.
Because of Nemo, my parents know the importance of watching for signs of fatigue and injury when adventuring with their dogs. They’ve learned that loyal and energetic dogs may not be inclined to regulate their activity on their own, and can depend on their human companions to help them stay safe. Aided by her Ruffwear Flagline™ Dog Harness, my parents are confident that Zoey is capable of summiting even the toughest peaks over all terrain, including ladders in the snow and steep mountain gulleys. The sturdy handle on her back allows my parents to give her a lift when they come across rocky passes or challenging riverbeds.
Reaching New Heights
In the fall of 2022, my parents finished hiking New Hampshire’s famous “48 4,000-footers” with Zoey by their side. It’s a well-known challenge for anyone who spends a lot of time hiking in the White Mountains, and something we’d started as a family when my siblings and I were young.
My siblings and I started getting more and more pictures in the group chat of Zoey on top of mountains and exploring the same forest of our childhood, captioned “The tri-paw on the tripyramids” or, “A tri-paw on a tri-state monument.” Most recently, Zoey completed her 7th peak of New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-footers, and our parents were quick to remind us that if we don’t come home more, then Zoey will beat us to all the 48 4,000-footers.
When my parents aren’t out adventuring with Zoey, she and Nemo keep my mom busy volunteering as therapy dogs at the local school and library. Zoey and Nemo are the perfect compliments for therapy work. Nemo is goofy and playful and can make anyone laugh. Zoey is sweet and loves to snuggle. Zoey is particularly fond of the reading program, which provides kids with a comforting space to gain confidence in their reading skills.
Dogs have always been a part of our family, but my parents have found a whole new way to incorporate dogs into their lifestyle. From camping and hiking to lounging at the lake, Zoey and Nemo keep them busy. I always look forward to receiving pictures from Zoey’s latest adventures while I am away, as I can tell the joy her presence on adventures brings. Whether they’re out exploring or relaxing on the couch keeping my parents company, Zoey and Nemo make them smile.