Antonio Olivero of the Summit Daily News recently interviewed me regarding my climbing days with Sawyer. The story features several photos as well as a link within it to my Do Tell! speech. The article ran in the Summit Daily on June 26th and has been picked up by several other newspapers since. It can be read here: Colorado Man Shares Advice for Hiking with Dogs After 14er Journey with Golden Retriever. A big thanks to Antonio and to the Summit Daily for putting this together so excellently. Enjoy the story!
As the summer hiking and climbing season officially (or maybe unofficially) opens, many will consider bringing the family pooch on some outdoor adventures. This is especially true for Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. Here are some quick and simple considerations before ascending Colorado’s highest mountains with your dog.
Breed: Not all breeds are created equal. Some are better suited for high altitude mountain adventures. Dragging a Bulldog that struggles to breathe on the flats, up a 14er, might be the end of the family pet. On the other hand, the family Border Collie might feel gypped after doing just one 14er in a day.
Age: Your dog has four legs with seemingly endless energy. But, he or she is not a machine. Most dogs are considered geriatrics by age 7 or 8. If your dog has lived a sedentary life on the couch eating crumbs, it might not be wise to take your furry friend up his or her first 14er at or beyond that age.
Water: Don’t expect your dog to drink from streams, rivers, ponds and lakes while hiking. If you are bringing water for yourself, bring some for your dog. High altitude terrain is dry. There are few sources of water above timberline. If you don’t bring water for your dog, then don’t bring any for yourself.
Food: You like snacks, and so does your dog. Pack a few small doggie snacks for the trail and the climb. Your dog will appreciate them. Four legs run out of energy from time to time. Be nice, and bring food for your dog. Refueling along the beaten path is never a bad thing for man and animal.
Harness: Climbing a 14er typically takes the greater part of a day. Some take two or three days. Putting your dog into a harness with a rope attached to their core will be much easier on them versus a leash to a collar at their neck. Tugging on your dog’s neck for eight straight hours will leave a nasty kink in it. Or worse, bring about serious injury.
Shoes: “Hey, mom, that dog’s got shoes on!” That was a comment I often heard when climbing with Sawyer. You wear shoes to hike in, so should your dog. Buy two complete sets in case your dog loses one on the trail. Prevent blisters and paw pad tears with dog booties. Read my other blogs about dog shoes below #gottabeshoes and #winterdogshoes.
Fun: Lastly, have fun. Climbing the 14ers with your dog should not be an all-out perfectly executed military operation. Enjoy the trip, watch the weather, and appreciate the summit if you get there. If things don’t cooperate, you should both bail on the summit and get back to the car to live another day.
14er Dog Book Offers New Insight on High Altitude Adventures
With the summer hiking and climbing season upon us, a new book will assist those venturing to 14,000 feet with their dog. Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer is a thick coffee table book detailing the chronicles of a dog’s (Sawyer) quest to climb Colorado’s 14ers with his owner (Joshua Aho) over eleven years.
The 352-page book includes tips for climbing with a dog, color-coded fourteener peak ratings, a dog-friendly fourteeners list, the history of 14er dogs beginning in the early 1900s, and much more. Containing more than 600 color photographs, as well as a detailed 3D digitally enhanced map of Colorado’s fourteeners, this hardcover book is the only complete fourteener dog book on the market.
While the book offers an array of guidebook material, it does not disappoint those desiring a story. It contains eight lengthy chapters detailing specific climbs, as well as 61 short stories from each fourteener. The official book synopsis reads: Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer chronicles the eleven-year quest that a golden retriever named Sawyer, and his owner, Josh, went on in attempts to become the second dog/man team in history to climb all of Colorado's fourteen-thousand-foot peaks. This book of adventures tells a tale of fun, fear, fanaticism, frustration, physicality, fourteeners, and faith.
Colorado’s famous mountaineer Gerry Roach says, “These adventure stories are likely to bring tears of joy to the eyes of dog lovers everywhere. We are used to hearing stories about great deeds, but seeing Sawyer on the heights settles us into a simpler place. Unfettered by our modern world, Sawyer climbed for the pure delight of being up high with his best friend. The large format book also offers a great view of the fourteeners. Sit back, breathe, and enjoy!”
Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer can be purchased here for $49.95. The first 1,000 purchasers will receive a commemorative postcard along with the signed and numbered book.
Joshua Aho is a graphic designer, illustrator, and self-published author. He currently is employed by High Plains Library District as the graphics technician.
A Climbing Guide to Colorado’s Fourteeners: 20th Anniversary Edition (1997) ***** Best & Favorite
Walter R Borneman & Lyndon J Lampert
A general guidebook with many interesting historical facts regarding the 14ers in Colorado. Arguably the best historical 14er book. Color paperback covers, black and white interior with photos, 272 pages.
Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer: Chronicles Of Our 11 Year Quest & Adventures Together At 14,000 Feet (2014) ***** Best & Favorite
A thick coffee table book containing detailed chronicles of a dog’s (Sawyer) quest to climb Colorado’s 14ers with his owner (Josh) over an eleven year span. Includes tips for climbing with a dog, peak ratings, and a history of 14er dogs beginning in the early 1900s. The best and only complete 14er dog book on the market. Hard cover, full color with photos and maps, 352 pages.
Colorado's Fourteeners, 3rd Edition: From Hikes to Climbs (2011) ***** Best & Favorite
A thick detailed guidebook including multiple standard and technical climbing routes on each Colorado 14er from perhaps Colorado’s most famous mountaineer. Includes driving instructions to each trailhead. Arguably the best overall guidebook for 14er mountaineering. Color paperback covers, full color interior with photos and maps, 336 pages.
Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners, Volume 1: The Northern Peaks (1994) ***** Best & Favorite
Louis W. Dawson II
A guidebook focused on many standard and technical climbing routes with specifics in ski descents of the 14ers from the man who first did so. For winter mountaineering specialists. Concentrates on the 14ers in northern Colorado. The best guidebook for skiing the 14ers. Color paperback covers, black and white interior with photos and maps, 255 pages.
Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners Volume 2: The Southern Peaks (1998) ***** Best & Favorite
Louis W. Dawson II
Volume two of the book above. Concentrates on the 14ers in southern Colorado. The best guidebook for skiing the 14ers. Color paperback covers, black and white interior with photos and maps, 204 pages.
14,000 Feet: A Celebration of Colorado's Highest Mountains (2005) ***** Favorite
Walter R. Borneman & Todd Caudle
A medium-sized coffee table book celebrating Colorado’s highest peaks with a concentration on history and general 14er photography. A favorite for its historical references, photos and general composition. Hard cover, full color with photos, 168 pages.
Fourteeners: Grand Slam (1998) ***** Favorite
A thin coffee table book that primarily features photos of the 14ers with brief descriptions and peak ratings. Contains very limited information on Roger Edrinn’s climbing dog, Diente. A favorite having inspired the book Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer. Hard cover, full color with photos and maps, 112 pages.
Ski The 14ers (2007) ***** Favorite
A dimensionally oversized coffee table book that chronicles Chris Davenport’s successful quest to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers in one calendar winter season. A favorite for Davenport’s accomplishment and his salute to Lou Dawson, as well as its unique oversized design. Hard cover, full color with photos, 143 pages.
I was recently emailed the below question and thought a blog about it would be helpful.
Can you recommend a specific brand of dog boots for winter that stayed on well with the snow?
Having your dog wear booties in the winter is more complicated than do so in the summer. The rubber soles take away the natural traction of a dog's toe nails, hindering balance and coordination. On steep icy or hard packed snow slopes these types of shoes would be death skis for the dog...which I would never recommend using. Depending on the specific intended usage in winter, your dog might have to try wearing a few different styles which can be frustrating. Dog shoes are expensive!
For safety reasons, many people prefer providing their dog(s) with the non-rubber bottomed soles in winter. They can grab the snow and ice a bit better instead of constantly skipping and slipping across it. The plain fact is that a dog may have to go without booties for large portions of the climb as well. Sawyer, for example, rarely wore dog shoes during any of our winter climbs for all of the above reasons. The slipping and such wasn't only dangerous on the mountain slopes, but also on the flat terrain. Having a dog splay their hips after slipping on ice is terrible for the joints. The damage from doing this just once can be terrible.
During our climbing heydays, I used to bring two or three sets of dog shoes for Sawyer regardless of the time of year. In some cases, I brought two different styles for him. The list of links below are the dog shoes, that in my opinion, are the best options for winter weather. Tread carefully. :)
1. Iditarod Dog Booties: Made of cordura with no rubber soles.
2. Original All-Weather Muttluks: Made of nylon with leather treated soles.
3. Muttluks Snow Mushers: Mixed materials, fleece lined with rubber sole. Comes in twos; not fours.
4. Ruff Wear Polar Trex: Mixed materials with rubber sole. Also insulated.
Launched in February 2013, Paws In The Kitchen By Tiffany became the official dog treat company with Sawyer’s image as its logo. Tiffany, now my wife, was inspired at the time to create homemade healthy dog treats that people could give to their dog(s) in good conscience. At the time of the company’s inception, Sawyer was 13 years old, he’d retired from climbing Colorado’s 14ers, and I was obsessed with retaining his good health in his senior years. Giving him treats was something Tiffany enjoyed, but making sure they were healthy to sustain his chiseled climbing physique was something I strived for. The logo sketch you see on the left was a quick 20 second joke drawing I did of Sawyer’s head with him saying, “Hi” to the right side. Tiffany decided to use it as her company logo with the “Hi” removed of course.
But the story’s origins have greater details. In a way, this idea all came about when Tiffany decided to buy Sawyer some special gourmet treats from a pet store in our area. The treats she purchased will remain nameless, but plainly put, Sawyer did not like them. He would not take them from our hands, and after forcing them into his mouth, he just spit them back out on the floor. Tiffany was surprised Sawyer did not like them because they were expensive, not the basic boxed treats, and even had a specially made healthy frosting. In many ways, they looked like frosted cookies a person would eat on a holiday. This failed experiment of giving Sawyer a “quality” treat prompted Tiffany to do her own research and start her own company. Hence the beginnings of Paws In The Kitchen By Tiffany.
During the project’s early stages, Sawyer was the taste-tester for the various treats Tiffany designed. As she baked the treats, Sawyer waited patiently just outside the kitchen for his chance to partake in the tasting fun. And the two became an effective team in designing healthy homemade treats that were tasty. Soon the treats were being sold at work to co-workers and friends. Family bought treats for their dogs too. Booths were set up at craft and gifts shows shortly after that to sell the product. Seeing the company take shape and understanding the process it had to go through to become official was absolutely vital in helping me launch my company, 14er Canine LLC, and self-publishing my book Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer.
Paws In The Kitchen By Tiffany has several different treats for sale. The three most popular are listed below. There is no current website for the product, and they are not currently sold in stores. At this time, treats are only sold by phone (or email) request. This is due to the limitations of making purely healthy wholesome dog treats on the spot with no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, and especially no preservatives. You may, however, see Tiffany’s booth at some of the local shows and/or farmer’s markets in the northern Colorado area. Listings below give an explanation of each treat including prices. Regardless of whether your dog is a fourteener climbing canine, or a cuddling couch pooch, all of the treats will help them stay trim. The treats are excellent for fourteener climbs and hikes as well. Call and leave a message (or email) to place an order.
Not for the Naughty Barkscotti*
Made with whole wheat flour, pumpkin, banana, unsweetened applesauce, honey, egg, vanilla extract and ceylon cinnamon.
Made with brown rice flour, bananas, applesauce, apples, carrots, oatmeal, water and ceylon cinnamon.
Wild Berry Bone-nanza*
Made with white flour, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, oatmeal, skim milk and ceylon cinnamon.
7oz cloth bag - $6.00
1lb brown bag - $10.00
6oz glass jar - $6.00
12oz glass jar - $12.00
*All ingredients are approved by the ASPCA. Treats have been laboratory tested for guaranteed analysis in Greeley, Colorado.
Paws In The Kitchen By Tiffany LLC
|One of the best climbing times of year, and most frustrating, is the monsoon season. Spanning anywhere from two to four weeks from late July to late August, the unpredictable weather can prevent successful summit bids and even ruin climbing plans. In 2008, the monsoon season played large part in an altered Chicago Basin trip once Sawyer and I were packed into the area. Here are a few simple tactics to help yourself and your dog have successful fourteener trips during this unpredictable time of year.
1. Plan Multiple Options: Monsoons don’t always hit the entire state at the same time. Plan a few trips and select the one that best fits the weather forecast shortly before going.
2. Bring A Poncho: If you do get hit by the monsoons in the backcountry, keeping your items dry will be vital. A poncho for yourself, a rain cover for your backpack, and even a rain coat of sorts for your dog will all contribute to your cause of remaining dry. A wet dog in a tent will spread water everywhere. And wet clothes for upcoming hiking days will be difficult to dry. Proper rain gear will be needed to conquer the wet and allow you and your dog to reign on the peaks.
3. Climb Shorter 14ers: This does not mean shorter as lesser in elevation. But, shorter as lesser in miles and fewer in hours. Getting on and off the peaks early will give you and your dog a much better chance to cheat the weather thrown your way.
4. Watch The Forecast: This is important not just for the day you plan to climb, but for the days leading up to it. If the forecast shows repeated downpours day after day prior to the climb, it might be advised to avoid the mountain until a later date. Some of the monsoons have loosened the rock on the peaks causing rock slides and fatalities. Take note and be cautious.
5. Avoid Cotton: This is standard for all of the climbing seasons with any clothes you wear. But in the summer months, climbers often cheat this rule for convenience. Cotton not only will make you cold when wet, but worse, it’ll stay wet. Stick with clothes and jackets that will not hold and retain water. This goes for the gear you place on your dog as well. A wet and cold dog will try to warm up on your dry sleeping bag. Keep your dog dry and keep the bag dry.
For more helpful information on the monsoon season and other climbing tips, purchase a copy of Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer today!
OLD BLOGS PAGE ADDITION TO 14ERCANINE.COM Friday, June 1, 2018
As the main blog page on 14ercanine.com has continued to grow month by month, it became necessary to migrate older blogs elsewhere. Instead of deleting older blogs, they will be migrating to the Old Blogs page. The page can be visited using the links here, or by clicking on the small photo of Sawyer in the upper left of this page. The photo sits below the CONTACT button and contains a hover feature. Old events and signings, as well as less significant blogs will continue to migrate from this page to the Old Blogs page.
|Rupturing my Achilles tendon, having the reparative surgery, and going through five months of physical therapy helped me understand the importance of rehabilitation on the human body. That was in August of 2010, when I was 33 years old. Seven months after my recovery was complete, Sawyer would begin his own physical therapy quest, which would span the final three years of his life.
It was in December 2009 during a radio interview on KRFC's Critter Patter show that I was introduced to the idea of physical therapy for dogs. Jill Reynolds, owner of Canine Massage of the Rockies, presented the idea as a reasonable option for an active, aging Sawyer. Soy was nine years old at the time and had early signs of arthritis. And it was Jill that ultimately connected Sawyer and me to Deanna Rodgers, owner of Good Life Physical Therapy for Animals.
When I met Deanna in July 2011, the stakes were high for Sawyer and me. We were very close to finishing Colorado's fourteeners, but Sawyer's body had endured years of intense high-altitude wear and tear. Before even calling and speaking with Deanna, Jill's words to me were this, "Josh, Deanna is legit. She'll do right by Sawyer. Give her a call and see what she says. She's the one you'll want working on him."
Over the next three plus years, visits with Deanna and Good Life Physical Therapy became a monthly routine for Sawyer and me. They occurred twice a month on rare occasion. Hour long sessions included: muscle massage and pressure point therapy, stretching and flexing exercises, balance strengthening and conditioning, coordination testing, and laser therapy. If Sawyer were still alive, he'd want me to remind you of the tasty natural peanut butter treats he received during these visits that were packed inside of a KONG®. But I digress.
Our sessions also included information on up-to-date medications, therapies, and alternative treatments that were available for aging, injured or recovering animals. We also routinely discussed exercise programs and weekly workouts that would benefit Sawyer without creating setbacks for him. And lastly, Deanna often recommended businesses that offered underwater treadmills and doggie swimming pools like Advanced Animal Care in Fort Collins, Colorado.
For me personally, Deanna's approach to Sawyer's physical therapy was very appealing. She was well educated in both traditional and alternative medicine. In her earlier years she had worked with physical therapy practices on the human side, only to transfer after much schooling to the animal side of the equation. In Deanna's eyes, Sawyer was not just a pet, or a dog, or a four-legged animal. He was a highly-trained, high-performance, fourteener-climbing
|Will my dog be in heaven? It’s the question many ask after their beloved canine companion has passed away. For some the question is laughable. And for possibly the largest part of the population, it’s unscientific at its basis. For me personally, it was the question I asked and spent years seeking out after our family dog, Winston, died when I was roughly 25 years old.
Writing a blog like this certainly isn’t going to help book sales for me. Let’s be honest, people aren’t drawn to this subject. If anything, they are turned off by it. And while I am well aware it will probably hurt my book sales, I still feel compelled to address it. My personality is to seek truth whether or not it pleases others.
The reason for this blog is simple. In mid-February of this year my friend, Scott, had to put down his 13.5 year old dog, Summit. Summit was a Labradoodle Scott had acquired 12.5 years earlier. The two spent nearly their entire time together exploring the mountainous regions of Colorado on a daily basis. I had the pleasure of hiking with them roughly 10 times. I found Summit to be calm, pleasant, enjoyable, and quite the overall climber. She brought a peace to each climb that was special. Scott’s personality was much the same. Whether Summit reflected Scott’s personality, or vice-versa, I don’t know. Perhaps they were just two individuals that fit together perfectly. What I do know is both were politely reserved. So, this article is for Scott in memory of Summit, and for anyone else like myself that has asked this big question. If you do not believe in heaven, nor find the Bible credible, there is no need to continue reading regardless of the answer I come to.
If we’re going to address whether or not our pets will be in heaven, we need to go to the source ‑ the Bible - Genesis through Revelation. In the beginning, God created the world and placed plants, animals, and finally people in it. There was NO death, nor was death intended. Both humans and animals were given something special that plants did not receive; the nephesh. Nephesh is the Hebrew word for “breath of life.” It gave birds, beasts and mankind a sentient nature which God breathed into them. It wasn’t until sin entered the Garden of Eden that death occurred.
In the story of Noah and the great flood, God commands Noah to build a large ark to preserve both man and animal from the coming deluge. If God had not cared about animals, the ark could have been substantially smaller to avoid the hassle of constructing such a massive vessel. But more importantly, we need to see that the ark IS a picture of Jesus Christ. While the judgement of the Father literally rained down in the form of water droplets flooding the Earth for 40 days, those inside the ark received salvation. Both man and animal.
Psalm 36:6 gives another clear view that God cares for animals. “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.” Most of the Psalms were written by King David, a man who spent early life caring for and protecting sheep. David, an earthly shepherd is a reflection of Jesus, our heavenly shepherd.
A preview of heaven is spoken of by Isaiah several times. In Isaiah 11:6-9 he writes on behalf of God, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” These verses make it clear that not only will animals be with us in heaven, they will not be in fear of each other or living in their worldly survival states.
Continuing on, in the story of Jonah and the great fish, God commands nature to do specific tasks to get Jonah to see the truth and eventually preach to the people of Nineveh. God appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah, and later appoints a worm to destroy a plant Jonah is resting under. But it’s at the end of the book of Jonah that things get interesting. God tells Jonah he does not want to destroy Nineveh because He cares about the people AND the animals. In Jonah 4:11 God says, “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, and also many animals?”
In the new testament Jesus often talks about birds, which are forgotten or disregarded by humans, yet remembered and cared for by God. One of my favorite verses is Luke 12:6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” The corresponding verse in Matthew 10:29 reads, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” I have always enjoyed bird watching, but I’ve never considered each individual one as something to be remembered. But God does.
Romans 8:19-23 tells us the ENTIRE creation groans for God’s return. Yes, we humans are the crown of creation, but animals are part of God’s design and are eagerly awaiting for Him to restore creation to its original state. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” If these verses were to specify human emotions only, the Apostle Paul would not have considered the WHOLE creation when writing them.
Toward the end of the Bible, in Revelation 5:13, we read about Christ’s return. It indicates that ALL of creation, including the animals, will honor Him with their voices. Then I heard EVERY creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” For those who are still reading, I’m sure another question has arisen. Are you suggesting that the animals will talk? I don’t know if they’ll speak our language, but they’ll say it, even if it’s in their own tongue. How do I know this? In Luke 19:40 the Pharisees told Jesus to quiet the people who were praising Him. He replied, “I tell you the truth, if I were to silence these people, even the very rocks themselves would cry out.” Yes, ALL of creation is loved by Him and ALL of creation recognizes Him.
But if I were to sum up mostly why I think God will have our pets in heaven, I would say this...He Loves Us. Jesus says in Matthew 7:8-11, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
It has been almost four years since Sawyer passed away, and I still miss him. I can’t wait for the great gift of seeing him again. And I know Scott is really looking forward to being reunited with Summit. Perhaps there is a heavenly hiking quest we’ll be taking on as a team. Thank you, God, for loving us and our pets. So to those who read this, expect to see your pets in heaven. The gift awaits.
|Do Tell! is now available to watch online. The City of Greeley recently posted the individual Do Tell! event videos on YouTube. These links will allow you to view my presentation. I am not a professional speaker, but I am passionate about the quest Sawyer and I shared. The talk focuses on three key aspects: friendship, failure and faith. There are a few photos of Sawyer and me during our climbing days that will be in the video. I hope you enjoy the talk. WARNING: If you have not read the book, there are spoilers.
The presentation is 18:54 in length and can be viewed at this link on YouTube.
Do Tell took place November 16, 2017, at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley. You can learn more about the event by viewing the Do Tell website. The Greeley Creative District will update the website for future presenters coming in 2018.
|Of all the questions I’ve been asked in regards to climbing fourteeners with a dog, the most common has been, “What fourteeners are dog-friendly?” While my website has been active for over two years, I have not addressed that question specifically in any blog until now.
The problem with the question itself is the level of assumption behind it. The assumption which is massive is, “Certainly some fourteeners must be dog-friendly.” And that’s the enormous gray area that some don’t seem to understand or perceive, while others cringe attempting to answer. To put things plainly, there are two answers to this huge question. The first is simply to provide a list of dog-friendly or canine-friendly fourteeners based on a guesstimation derived from personal climbing experience with a dog. The second answer, however, is much more complicated because it involves details as to the who, what, when, where, how and why of things. These gray areas involve things like a dog’s age and breed, your personal bond with the animal, available climbing equipment, and many other considerations far too numerous to mention in a short pared-down blog.
When I decided in the summer of 2003 to begin designing and writing Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer, my focus was to give people top-notch information about hiking and climbing fourteeners with a dog. Hiking and climbing are different animals. Pun intended. And that is why the book is called Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer, and not Hiking Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer. I spent eleven years climbing the fourteeners with Sawyer while working on this book. An additional four more were needed to complete it. With fifteen years invested in this book from start to finish, I have no doubt that Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer is by far the best dog and fourteener resource combo you’ll get.
If you are looking for the best available information about climbing the fourteeners with your dog, and also have a desire to answer as many gray areas about climbing the fourteeners with your canine companion, purchase a copy of my book today. Doing so will not only help your dog’s future safety, but yours as well. Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer is the elite and only hard copy resource for climbing the fourteeners with a dog. No other book contains this valuable information. You will not regret your purchase, and neither will your dog.
And for those who neither want to purchase nor do any involved research, not to worry. Gray areas have been conveniently removed to provide the dog-friendly 14ers list below:
Mount Elbert 14,433'
Mount Massive: 14,421'
La Plata Peak: 14,336'
Uncompahgre Peak: 14,309'
Mount Lincoln: 14,286'
Grays Peak: 14,270'
Mount Antero: 14,269'
Torreys Peak: 14,267'
Quandary Peak: 14,265'
Mount Evans: 14,264'
*Mount Cameron: 14,238'
Mount Shavano: 14,229'
Mount Belford: 14,197'
Mount Princeton: 14,197'
Mount Yale: 14,196'
Mount Bross: 14,172'
Mount Oxford: 14,153'
Mount Democrat: 14,148'
*South Mount Elbert: 14,134'
*South Mount Massive: 14,132'
Missouri Mountain: 14,067'
Humboldt Peak: 14,064'
Mount Bierstadt: 14,060'
Handies Peak: 14,048'
Culebra Peak: 14,047'
Mount Sherman: 14,036'
Redcloud Peak: 14,034'
San Luis Peak: 14,014'
Huron Peak: 14,003'
Sunshine Peak: 14,001'
*Considered unofficial fourteeners/subpeaks. Colorado has 54 "official" fourteeners. In order for two fourteeners to be considered official, they must meet 2 requirements. (1) The summits must be one mile apart. (2) There must be a minimum 300 foot drop from each summit to the connecting ridge low point between the peaks.
|What is success? What is failure? Those seem like simple questions. Maybe even easy ones to answer. But try to answer them honestly for yourself and others around you, and you'll find them to be quite complicated. Can you lose when you win, and win when you lose? Is it possible to be a failure through succeeding, and be a success through failure? We live in a world obsessed with perfection. Money, status and power are the obvious giants in the industry. Body building, physique and cosmetics are now more important than ever. And yet with all the pressure to be perfect, just to portray an image of victory in life, people are more unhappy than ever.
In the last chapter of my book, I have many quotes that hit home. One of them is quite well known. "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." The individual originally quoted as saying it was UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell ("Red") Sanders. It's a quote that most people know whether or not they like sports...and whether or not they know who actually said it. It's also a quote that probably sums up the mentality of our world.
I challenge you to evaluate true success, and on the other hand, true failure. While standing on mountain summits, gaining status, and earning a great paycheck are all wonderful things, they do not satisfy in the long run of life. Strong faith, great relationships, true loyalty, honesty, dignity and so on, are much higher achievements that we rarely cherish. Consider your success...and your failure. Regardless of how high you get on the mountain, the REAL truth lies within.
This radio interview was the first I had with KRFC. Ed Lammon and Jeff Reichert both hosted Critter Patter at the time. The show was recorded December 18, 2009, but aired January 14, 2010. Sawyer was in attendance during recording of my first and second shows. Enjoy!
This interview was the second I had with KRFC, and was conducted in live studio by Jeff Reichert, who was the sole host of Critter Patter at the time. The broadcast took place November 11, 2010. It is the only live radio interview I have done. Sawyer also attended. Enjoy!
|I met Jill Reynolds in December 2009 during an interview I had on KRFC's Critter Patter show in Fort Collins. Jill, owner of Canine Massage of the Rockies, and member of Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado (SARDOC), was in attendance. During the taping of the half hour segment, she worked on Sawyer's tender lower back, offering massage and pressure point treatment. Sawyer was 9 years old at the time, and just beginning to show signs of aging. Jill's current dog, Skid, was only two years old then, and in training with SARDOC to receive certification. After 6 years of service with SARDOC, Skid retired. The briefing on Skid's retirement was published in 2014.
After the interview, Jill and I spoke for a while about Sawyer's age, health and climbing career. I remember her saying, "Josh, you'll probably have to tell Sawyer when to retire. He'll keep going until he hurts himself." As it turns out, the 30 minute massage Sawyer received that day would be the very beginning of the much needed physical therapy he would partake in for the rest of his life.
When it comes to canine massage, Jill is a trusted professional with roughly 15 years experience. She was certified at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, and has the support of several veterinarians in northern Colorado. Contacting your dog's current vet, reviewing their complete medical history, and evaluating them in person is just the beginning of the process. Veterinary testimonials supporting Jill's work are insightful, bringing to light improved range of motion, better quality of life and decreased pain for your furry friend. Testimonials from various clientele express equal support having seen improvement in their dogs in as little as two treatments. In addition to the benefits of your dog receiving massage therapy, Jill offers the convenience of home visits, allowing your dog to remain comfortable and calm in his or her own living room.
Regardless of whether you're climbing Colorado's fourteeners with your dog, or simply trail hiking the flatlands with your four-legged friend, Canine Massage of the Rockies may be a great solution to help your dog regain mobility, improve muscle tone, recover from injury and ultimately slow the negative impacts from this continued outdoor activity. To schedule treatments for your dog, use the information below (or the link to Jill's website above).
Jill Reynolds of Canine Massage of the Rockies
Thanks to KRFC 88.9 FM for recent interview I had on their Critter Patter show with Jill Reynolds. The show was recorded 5/29/17, but aired 6/8/17. Jill mentions my upcoming presentation at Red Feather Lakes Community Library. Enjoy!
|On June 1st, KRFC's 88.9 FM Critter Patter show we be hosting and interviewing me about Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer. Critter Patter is “all things animals” every Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. on KRFC. When Sawyer was alive, he and I were on the show twice — once in 2009 and again in 2010. At that time, we met Jill Reynolds of Canine Massage of the Rockies. Jill now runs Critter Patter each week, hosting amazing animal welfare non-profits, talented authors, and other experts to discuss the latest in animal health, as well as share special stories about people and their pets, and much, much more. Check out Critter Patter to learn more.
*UPDATE: New Show Date! JUNE 8TH @ 6:30 P.M.
The radio interview with KRFC's Critter Patter show was recorded Monday, May 29th and will air on Thursday evening, June 8th at 6:30 p.m. The show will also be available online through the KFRC website, however, listeners will have to do so live. KRFC does not post links to shows online for later listening. If I am able to get a CD from Jill Reynolds of the recording, I will post it on this blog. Thanks for listening!
|If you think water doesn't matter, I assume you do not view it as an essential of life. Regardless of one's personal beliefs, theistic or atheistic, water is necessary for life. Whether considering man, animal, or plant...water is vital for survival.
Climbing fourteeners, or any mountains for that matter, requires two basic things: time and energy. The more of these you expend, the more likely you'll need water to keep you going. Too many times over the years I witnessed climbers that treated their dog as an afterthought. Years ago, on a non-traditional route from Mount Bierstadt to Mount Evans, Sawyer and I ran into a climber and his Black Lab just above Abyss Lake. This particular dog was very large, heavy, and clearly exhausted. The dog's owner had brought only enough water for himself, and simply stated his dog could drink from "rivers, streams, and ponds." I gladly gave the dog some of Sawyer's water, being I always carried a two day supply.
Years prior to that story, a different gentleman near the top of another fourteener stopped Sawyer and I to ask questions. He was intrigued about Sawyer, but saddened at the sight of him. He had lost his climbing dog due to dehydration and heatstroke during a climb. He told me he had not brought water for his dog, and sadly the dog perished because of it.
If you plan to take your dog hiking or climbing, bring him or her water and a collapsible bowl. The best bowls will easily fit into your pocket when compressed. Larger bowls will not do so, and they'll complicate things when you find yourself wasting water your dog refuses to drink in one sitting. Also, do not place your dog's bowl inside your backpack. An easily accessible bowl makes it simpler to get water for your dog throughout the entire day. Removing your pack multiple times throughout the day to get water for your dog is not practical. Best practices are to drain water from your hydration bladder hose into the bowl. Doing so is both easy and convenient. Offering small amounts to your dog will prevent the continual dumping of water from the bowl, should your dog not consume it all at once. On dry climbs, your most precious commodity will be water. And you cannot afford to waste it! Lastly, remember to ask your canine companion if he or she needs water. Your dog WILL let you know! Remember, a hydrated dog is a happy and healthy one!
Collapsible dog bowls are made by many companies, and are sold virtually everywhere imaginable. The best bowl I ever had for Sawyer was the Bison Designs Fold-A-Bowl. In fact, I still have it. It appears similar to the one pictured above. The bowl is about 3" high and 5" wide. It sits next to Sawyer on the cover photo of my book, and is the perfect size for outdoor adventures.
*UPDATE: After posting this blog, Bison Designs responded with this nice message...
This is very cool! Thank you so much for sharing. We wish Sawyer was still with us so we could thank him as well ;0)
We appreciate your continued support for Bison Designs products.
|Mountain climbing and the pursuit of goals can bring out the best and worst in people. It did just that for me. It also can force a person to evaluate aspects of success and failure that might normally be overlooked. Everyone likes to hold the trophy above their head, but what happens when you don't win? Or what happens when you reach the top, and find out it's a lonely place there? The short excerpt to the left reads in full below...
One of the biggest things I have learned is that success is not judged by mountain summits, trophies, and accolades. To be a success, you must not be defined by the summit or the trophy. You must be higher than the summit and more radiant than the trophy. You must be greater than these things, because they cannot define you. Only you can define them. A person defined by a mountain summit will never be bigger than the mountain itself. A person defined by a trophy cannot be greater than the piece of metal from which it is forged. No one should be defined by an elevation in the sky or a shiny piece of metal. These things do not define champions. Many who have them are not champions. And yet many who do not have them are the greatest champions of all.
Coming to the truth can be both painful and ugly, regardless of the outcome of your event. But truth, no matter how painful, is freeing. Ultimately, that is what should be sought after. The Bible tells us in John 8:32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
|It was 1989 when I first saw the commercial. And it led to the purchase of my first pair of Air Jordans. Mars Blackmon, the character played by Spike Lee, was asking Michael Jordan what his secret was to being "the best player in the universe." Mars asks, "Is it the vicious dunks?" Jordan replies, "No, Mars." Then pointing to Jordan's bald head Mars says, "Is it the hair cut?" Jordan again says, "No, Mars." Mars then exclaims, "Is it the shoes? Money, it's gotta be the shoes. The shoes! It's the shoes, right?!" The black and white commercial is still classic.
Over the years, many people asked what it was that made Sawyer a great climber. "Many things," was my typical reply. But, his strength of mind was really the key trait. However, many were simply drawn to his shoes. Just like the elusive pair of Air Jordans everyone wanted in 1989, fellow climbers dreamed of having their dog scaling cliff edges and class 4 terrain with a brand new pair of dog shoes. And the voice of the fictional character Mars Blackmon rang in my head when people seemed to believe that Sawyer was special because of shoes. "It's gotta be the shoes, right?" No, Mars.
If you plan to hike and climb with your dog, purchasing a good set of dog shoes is crucial. Of course, they do not come in pairs, but in sets of four. The best shoes, and the ones Sawyer wore, were made by Ruff Wear. The original Ruff Wear style shoe was re-upped by REI for a while until ultimately being discontinued. Ruff Wear currently makes several dog shoes for different types of terrain. Keep in mind, there are several other companies to choose from as well. However, choose your set carefully. Because ultimately, while it's not the shoes, the wrong ones can and very well might be disastrous for your dog.
The photo to the left is one that has been in my house for many years. And I have loved it dearly. It is from above Chihuahua Gulch on the west side of Torreys Peak, during our second year of climbing fourteeners. On my 25th birthday, I received a 2 foot by 3 foot framed print of it. For many years this picture sat all alone in a beautiful archway in my house. And how I miss those days. Now it sits there as a memorial of sorts, accompanied by Sawyer's climbing harness, a set of his old climbing shoes, and his ashes.
It was two years ago today that I got the call from my dad. "Josh, Sawyer fell," he said. "Pick him up," I thought. But when my dad repeated his words I knew this was no ordinary fall. I could hear the fear in his voice. It turned out Sawyer had collapsed in my parents house when I was away in Denver for a short while. What none of us knew at the time was his spleen had ruptured and was internally bleeding due to cancer that was unknown to anyone. The drive home that day was terribly emotional not knowing whether or not I'd get to see Sawyer again. The sky was mostly overcast, but the view of the mountains was not. It was clear skies above the entire Front Range as if God was saying, "Josh, I too remember the good times you both had up there." After taking Sawyer to the emergency vet, it was evident we were nearing an end. I'll be getting married in few days and starting a new venture in life. But Sawyer's life and friendship will never be forgotten. I wish he could be there. But maybe God will tell him Tiffany and I are going to be okay. If you have read my book, and are interested in Sawyer's last day, click here. WARNING: There are spoilers.
Anyone who read the first Northern Colorado Paw Pages magazine containing Sawyer and me (fall of 2009), might not know that we were featured in the magazine one more time about a year and a half later (spring/summer 2011). This would be our last time in Paw Pages magazine, and also be the final time Paw Pages would print. After approximately three years in business, Paw Pages would close down shop for good. The magazine still brings fond memories, and I really wish it had survived. About a year prior to the magazine's final issue, Ed Lammon sold his share of Paw Pages to co-owner Jeff Reichert. Jeff was able to keep the business alive for about a year before unfortunately having to cease operations.
The story here covers the summer of 2010 when Sawyer and I climbed Snowmass Mountain and Little Bear Peak. The article, Josh & Sawyer Update, contains excerpts of some of the actual writings in my book. Wait for the PDF to load and scroll forward to the beginning of the article on page 38.
I must be honest and admit up front that it was my fiancée's (Tiffany's) idea to contact Gerry Roach to review my book, Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer. Roach was a legend in my mind, not only for his climbs of Colorado's fourteeners and guidebooks about them, but for his worldwide mountaineering feats. To greatly simplify his resumé, Roach has over 50 years of mountaineering experience. He climbed Everest in 1983 and was the second person in history to climb all of the seven summits. For those not emersed in the climbing world, the seven summits reference the highest summit on each of the seven continents. Roach went on to become the first person to climb every major peak in North America over 16,000 feet. While this drastric oversimplification of his accomplishments is unfair, and possibly even rude, it allows those few who have not heard of him to have a general idea of his mountaineering accomplishments and greatness.
From my part of things, I had owned several of Gerry Roach's books and had referenced them multiple times before, during, and even after my climbs with Sawyer. These books offered tons of valuable information for everyone from beginners to the most advanced. Just about every imaginable route up the mountain is covered in his books, and the detail within them is incredible. My favorite book of his, Colorado's Fourteeners From Hikes To Climbs (Second Edition), was used and reused by me so much over the years it was nearly thrashed. His third edition, pictured in the upper left of this blog section, is the one I bought and kept in mint condition at the end of Sawyer's and my climbing quest.
Even after Tiffany mentioned that I should contact Gerry Roach to review my book, I hesitated. I wondered if he would even want to review and/or endorse my book. After all, I owned his books. Not the other way around. And to be realistic, he didn't have to do it. But after some poking and prodding from Tiffany, I finally contacted him. If you would like to read Gerry Roach's thoughts on my book, take a look below. Not only am I really grateful to have him review my book, I am also VERY honored to share the things he wrote about it. Thank you, Gerry Roach. I hope my book brings joy to your life, just as your books have brought so much joy to mine.
Climbing Colorado’s 14ers With Sawyer is an exceptional book; it soars across several domains. Foremost, it’s a compelling story of love and companionship between a man and his dog during their quest to climb all of Colorado’s fourteeners together. Josh’s dog, Sawyer, takes center stage during their 11 year quest, and these adventure stories are likely to bring tears of joy to the eyes of dog lovers everywhere. We are used to hearing stories about great deeds, but seeing Sawyer on the heights settles us into a simpler place. Unfettered by our modern world, Sawyer climbed for the pure delight of being up high with his best friend. The large format book has hundreds of color photographs, and this book also offers a great view of the fourteeners. Sit back, breathe, and enjoy!Gerry Roach
Jessica Benes of the Loveland Reporter Herald wrote an article about Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer on December 3. The article then ran in the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post newspapers the following days. Thank you, Jessica, for the great story! If you would like to read the article, it is called Dog Climbs Colorado Fourteeners.
In April 2009, Sawyer and I met Jeff Reichert and Ed Lammon, founders, co-owners, and developers of Northern Colorado Paw Pages. Jeff originally heard the story of Sawyer through my sister, who worked at a salon cutting Jeff's hair. At the time, Paw Pages was new to the market and the first publication had just been released. Ed and Jeff were interested in doing a story about Sawyer, but at the time Sawyer was in retirement from a climbing injury that had taken place in August 2008. Paw Pages was only published twice a year, so the story of Sawyer would not be seen until September 2009.
As Ed and Jeff began interviewing me for the story, it was Ed that actually sparked Sawyer's return to the 14ers. Ed suggested trying physical therapy and rehab for Sawyer. At first I was very hesitant for many reasons. I did not want Sawyer to be pumped full of drugs by a physical therapist or clinic. And, I did not want our quest to continue due to selfishness on my part, or for a story.
After much thought, I declined to have Sawyer attend physical therapy and rehab. But, something quite amazing came of all of this. Ed's idea actually triggered one of my own. I began swimming Sawyer several times each week in Lake Loveland, and his recovery was so significant that we ended up climbing 14ers for three more summers before his final retirement.
While the Paw Pages story is now six years old, it is fun for me to recall. In fact, Paw Pages ran two articles on us, the second being in 2010. I still miss the days that Sawyer and I shared. In 2009 and 2010, Ed and Jeff hosted us on a local radio show known as Critter Patter on KRFC. Sawyer attended both times. If you are interested in reading the old 2009 Paw Pages article, it was called Meet Sawyer: Greeley's 14er-Bagging Dog. Wait for the PDF to load and scroll forward to the beginning of the article on page 13.
Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer was recently selected as a Top 10 Christmas Gift for the outdoors lover by the Fort Collins Coloradoan. How cool is that?! The best part is they refer to Sawyer and me as "pseudo celebrities within the fourteener community." Their feature, which ran on Sunday, November 22, was called 10 Cool Gifts For The Active & Outdoorsy.
|Last month, Dan England of The Greeley Tribune wrote an article about Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer, featuring the quest Sawyer and I shared over eleven years. The article was also published in the Aspen Times and other mountain papers. The piece was called Dogs Days: Author Recalls The Best Of Times On 14ers With His Golden Retriever In New Coffee Table Book
|Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer was recently reviewed by Brandon and Kristine Chalk, the youngest married couple in history to climb Mount Everest. In 2009, I contacted Brandon to see if he'd let me include his dog, Rainier, in the History of 14er Dogs section of my book. At the time, Rainier had climbed roughly 40 fourteeners, while Brandon and Kristine were nearing completion of the Seven Summits. Brandon recently wrote a book review for Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer on his website called New 14er Dog Book.
Sawyer and I met Scott Farish and his friend, Jordan, high on the slopes of Mount Democrat in June 2010 when Sawyer was 10 years old. Both Scott and Jordan seemed surprised Sawyer had climbed so many fourteeners. At the time, Sawyer had climbed 58 fourteeners and was only 3 shy of completing all of them. Scott recently posted the message below on his Facebook page after buying Sawyer's book. Good luck to Scott and his dog, Pepper, on their upcoming high-alpine adventures together!
I'd like to give a huge shout out to Josh Aho, author of the book Climbing Colorado's 14ers with Sawyer. We just received our copy today, and this book is amazing. Even if you're not into 14ers, buy this book! It is an incredible collection of adventures about a man and his pup. Josh, as you can see, Pepper is ready to follow in Sawyer's steps! :)
Official site of Climbing Colorado's 14ers With Sawyer: Chronicles Of Our 11 Year Quest And Adventures Together At 14,000 Feet Copyright © 2010, 2015 Joshua Ian Aho, 14er Canine LLC, and www.14erCanine.com