An Out There blog reader (who just commented on the Mount Hood post below) read my mind, questioning the love behind climbers taking pets up mountains with them.
A short version of a story by the AP:
Despite the feel-good story of Velvet, the black Labrador mix who helped keep three Mount Hood hikers warm and alive, some experts say taking dogs up the mountain for warmth and companionship is a foolhardy practice that could do more harm than good.
“Any sport that requires safety gear, like harnesses, crampons, ice axes and rope, is probably not an appropriate place for a pet dog to be,” and could endanger both the dog and owner, said Julie Kittams, a Portland veterinarian for sled dogs in the Iditarod.
Taking a dog on a mountain-climbing expedition, she said, is “like caring for an injured team member. It just hinders your ability to get safely off the mountain.”
The rescue prompted climbers to chatter on mountaineering Web sites such as cascadiaclimbers.com about the wisdom of bringing a dog on an expedition. Climbers noted that some dogs are bred for snowy environments, but other hikers wondered about potential risks for the animals.
Velvet’s owner, Matty Bryant, did not respond to requests for an interview Tuesday. Velvet suffered cuts and scrapes on her feet from exposure to the snow and went home with bandages, antibiotics and pain medication. She was expected to make a full recovery.
What do you think? I took my Lab on backpacking trips in the Sierras when I was a kid, but there was no technical climbing involved and no snow, either. She didn't go up Whitney with me and she never went anywhere that she couldn't easily be carried out.