Carrying Her Weight: Johnnie Goes Hiking

When our Sunday opened up at the last minute this past weekend and the weather forecast was absolutely beautiful (60 degrees and sunny? yes please!), Mark and I knew we wanted to do something fun and unique for the day. We also knew it would be in our best interest to do something that would tire Johnnie out, so of course our first idea was to go for a cool hike – but where? We’ve been all over the DC and MD area and we wanted to try something new (sort of like when we ventured to Fort McHenry with Charlie).

We decided to make a big move and travel the hour and a half drive to an access point for the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Mark and I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail together, but have never gotten around to it. What better opportunity than an uncharacteristically warm winter day with an eager four-legged hiking buddy to join you?


Mark had the great idea before we headed out of town to pick Johnnie up a doggy hiking backpack. We ran to Petco and picked up the perfect little pack for J!  Because we were planning on hiking for a while, we had water and snacks packed for ourselves – now Johnnie could help us carry them!  Though, as you’ll see as you read this post, we did a lot on this hike, and the bag is already breaking a little bit (it was only $15) – any hiking-with-your-dog gurus out there who have recommendations on where to get an awesome and durable doggy backpack?

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Anyway – we were surprised to show up to a very snowy Shenandoah National Park. Expecting to step out of the car to chillier temps than when we left, we were happy to realize that despite all the snow it was still extremely mild there!  Johnnie was absolutely thrilled with all the snow. It was so fun to watch her play in it.

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06During the hike we romped a little, Johnnie bounced around and found sticks, we practiced some manners, we met new friends and we completely exhausted ourselves. Having to wear the pack was definitely an added bonus in the working-Johnnie-out category! She still did her favorite bunny hops, but you could tell they took extra effort.

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Two and a half hours later, we walked back to our car dripping wet and totally worn out. Johnnie was such a great walker during the hike – she stayed on a loose leash almost the entire time, which was very appreciated by the humans because of how slippery and wet it was! Meeting new people was the only time she was a little over eager, but we expected that from her little human-loving self. Check out our loose-leash extraordinaire in action:

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It was such a fun adventure. Johnnie was asleep about three minutes after getting in the car to head home, and snoozed on and off the entire evening until bed time.

We’re so excited to head back to Shenandoah National Park again as it gets warmer (we bought a year-long pass!). We’d love to bring Johnnie back with us again, but we won’t mind if she can’t make it because she finds her forever home. Do you know anyone looking for the perfect addition to their hiking party?

22To adopt your perfect hiking buddy, Johnnie Cash, email

17 thoughts on “Carrying Her Weight: Johnnie Goes Hiking

  1. Danielle

    Kelty brand makes great packs. My dog used hers for the entire trail on a thru hike about & years ago! The pack is still in good condition and we continue to use it.

    Ruff Wear has a lot of pack options also!

  2. Andrea Joy

    Awesome! We love our Ruff Wear pack; it has held up for almost two years and gets a lot of use. A lot of our Positive Pittie Pack Walk members also like Outward Hounds packs.

  3. Hi! Charlie uses the Dog Whisper backpack …’s the greatest!!! The backpack should stay close to the dogs front shoulders. it has a front pad, lots of reflectors, tons of room in the storage pockets. This backpack gets fantastic use and doesn’t wear out!!!
    ** I added Charlie’s (our ABD from ABD Rescue) to the profile picture so you can see…sorry the picture is sideways….not that photo editing savvy!

  4. We looove Ruff Wear goods and have heard good things about their packs, but their good quality doesn’t come cheap. We have Outward Hound packs and have been very pleased with them!

  5. What a great Sunday adventure! I love Shenandoah NP!! There are so many beautiful parks to visit in VA with trails that will tire out even the most energetic pups! I love all the pics of Johnnie – you can really see how she is maturing in her training. I love that while she consistently appears more and more well-mannered, she looks like the same happy-as-can-be puppy that she was when you first started fostering her. Your dedication to Johnnie is really shining through!

  6. These photos are awesome, and it looks like you all had a fabulous time! I can’t wait to take Addie hiking now that the weather is getting warmer :) I’m sure she would’ve loved trekking in the snow too. Little Johnnie looked like she had an absolute blast, and she is too cute with that backpack on!!

  7. Kelli

    Perfect timing on this post! I had my boy Diggory out for some hikes this weekend and almost bought him that same backpack at Petco, but was hesitant because of the pocket sizes. I’ve had an Outward Hound backpack on my Amazon Wishlist for a while, and after reading some others’ reviews I think I’ll take the plunge and get it for him. Hoping he looks as cute as Johnnie!

  8. i’ll be the perfect addition to YOUR hiking party! i was thinking of calling you this weekend just to say “can i come play with you and johnnie? I’ll take her for a hike if you need a break!” she is the cutest little snowbunny!

  9. Yep I second checking out REI. When I finally break down and get an official pack I will go to them. looks like you all had a blast. I have always wanted to go out there to the Ap trail too, just never get around to making the hike out. What a surprise to show up to so much snow still, too fun.

  10. We do so many motorcycle rides to Shenandoah that we always buy a yearly pass, definitely worth the money!

    I’ve been researching packs too and think I’ll end up with Outward Hound.

  11. Pingback: Our Weekend in the Mountains | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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