Category Archives: Hiking

Backpacking Gear for Loki the Shiba Inu


Over the past weekend, we took Loki with us on our first backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness, CA. This isn’t the first time we’ve gone hiking with him up tall mountains, the tallest being Mt.Tallac also in the Tahoe area. Turning 2 years old this August, he has boundless energy and no trouble keeping up with us on long, strenuous trails. If you are looking for an outdoor dog, shibas are for you (but don’t expect them to follow commands anytime soon 😛 )!

Staying true to his shiba nature, he still doesn’t have the greatest recall in the world. Yet, we manage to keep him “off-leash” on long hiking trips after recognizing his preferences:

1) When its potty time, he pretty much ignores all and runs off to do his business, but always returns
2) He prefers to hike faster than us, but always stops to keep us in sight
3) On hot days, he runs off to find a water source to cool down, but always returns

With long backpacking/hiking trips, bringing the right gear for your dog is a must. Below is a list of my favorite products that we frequently bring for Loki.

1) Gulpy Water Dispenser – $8
The gulpy makes it incredibly easy for us to give Loki his water. It saves you the hassle of finding his water bowl, dispensing water, drying out the bowl, and packing it away. We love his gulpy!

2) Bear Bell – $5
Doubles both as a bear bell, and as a location tracker for your dog is. Highly recommended if you hike in the wilderness and let your dog off leash.

3) Doggy Backpack – $40-80
If the temperature is relatively cool, we like to make Loki carry his own water/treats with a doggy backpack. It reduces the weight that we carry and tires him out a bit more. With backpacks, it is important to bring your dog to the store to try on the backpack. Relying on measurements alone can be difficult because you want to judge how comfortable your dog looks with his backpack on. At 29lbs, Loki fits the REI ultra dog pack pretty well.

4) Doggy boots – $30-60
If you are a serious hiker, you probably take your dogs on more difficult, rocky trails. This can really mess up your dogs paws. I’ve heard stories of hikers having to carry their dog mid-hike because their dog refused to move another inch. On our Mt.Tallac hike, the terrain was rocky near the summit, and Loki started showing signs of discomfort. This was when we decided to purchase doggy boots. Again, it is important to try out the boots in store before you purchase. The ones that fit Loki were Ultra Paws in XS. However, they did start sliding off after a while, so I am curious if there are better options.

5) Any 6ft lightweight leash – <$10
This only applies if you have shibas with not-so-good recall. We usually have him drag a short leash on trails, so that its slightly easier to catch him if necessary. On the end of the leash, we cut open the loop so that it doesn’t catch on rocks/branches. Works pretty well with Loki!

The view from our backpacking destination, Aloha Lake, was amazing 🙂


Loki’s first camping trip

The past weekend was an exciting one for Loki. Perhaps a little too exciting. We camped for the night in South Lake Tahoe, home to one of the most beautiful scenic destinations in Northern California. When it comes to camping, most sites require reservations in advance. Unfortunately for us, we were left with few choices by the time we made reservations. This mistake led to the discovery of KOA camp sites, a rather comfortable alternative to traditional camp sites. I was surprised to find clean bathrooms, showers, laundry, and even WIFI! Yes, I myself thought it was silly to camp with these amenities. But when you’re dying to use the bathroom at 3am during a THUNDERSTORM, that clean bathroom comes in mighty handy.

So how did Loki fare? At first, he was enjoying the pine cones and bouncing around like a silly little fox.



stalker Soon after, we started the campfire and got our cooking on. Mmm, I LOVE cooking camp food!


And this is when Loki decided that he didn’t like camping anymore. He was afraid of the SMOKE coming from the campfire 😦 We literally had to drag him from underneath our car.



scared2Loki: I love camping so much, I’ll stay right here. Kthxbye.

Oddly, Loki didn’t flinch to the sound of intense thunder and lightening later that night. I was freaking out more than him. This little guy makes no sense sometimes.


A tired puppy is a happy puppy

Yesterday, we took Loki to the beautiful Briones Regional Park  to explore new hiking terrain. If you haven’t already noticed, we are big on hiking on weekends to let Loki unleash some of his puppy energy. Considering how much we hike, I’ve actually considered creating a website that reviews all the hikes we’ve been on. Perhaps this could be the future of our blog – half doggy training, half hiking!

Our hike started around 1pm, which is a bit late if you are planning to go for long. We started with every intention on taking a well known trail, but decided last minute to head up longer trails since the sun was still up. That was our mistake.

Long Leash Training
Before I turn this blogpost into a recap of how utterly stupid and lost we got on this hike, I want to first talk about long leash training. I’ve been working on Loki’s recall for a while now, but he only responds 50% of the time to the ‘come’ command. When we go on long hikes, we don’t like keeping Loki on a short leash. For one, it doesn’t train him to prefer staying by our side. Two, it just gets annoying holding onto a leash for long periods of time. The solution to this problem? A 50-foot long leash for Loki to drag around. I bought the Guardian Cotton Web Training Pet Lead Leash and it has worked great so far. During this hike, there were only two times that we chased Loki back towards the right direction. The long leash makes a huge difference in how easy it is to catch him. Here is a video of him on his long leash.

Getting Lost in Briones Park

Loki pondering life

To continue from where I left off in my story, we got freaking lost on this hike. We decided to increase our hiking distance by using smaller, windier trails around 2:30-3:00pm. On the map, it looked fairly intuitive on how to get back. But on the trails, we came across increasingly steep trails, intersections with two paths, and fewer signs were available to direct hikers. Within two hours of hiking, I think we saw only two or three groups of hikers left. Wild cows and bulls that were 1/2 miles away were now 5-15ft within our trail. By the time it was 5pm, we had backtracked two trails and the sun was starting to set. Our hiking backpack contained 1 bottle of water, a pack of granola bars, two cell phones with 30% battery life, and no survival equipment. I was seriously contemplating the likelihood of us reenacting an episode of survivorman out there!

A beautiful and majestic sight

By 5:30pm, we walked past a ‘private property’ sign infront of a pavement road at one point, and decided to turn back towards this road when our trail was cut off by a fallen tree. When in doubt, always follow the pavement road! The road eventually led us to a house right along the park, where we thankfully found help from the locals who lived there. They were stunned at how far and lost we had come. It took 21 minutes and 20 miles of driving back to our original parking lot!

Needless to say, from now on, we will be carrying survival equipment whenever we go hiking in big parks like this. It might seem like an overkill, but I never want to go through that experience again!

Loki making new friends at home and on the go

Loki got to meet my mom’s Chihuahua billy over Thanksgiving, and during that time made up a game for them to play together. Well, it was mostly Loki playing and Billy trying not to get too irritated with the puppy-ness of it all. Anyway, you can see for yourself, it’s some kind of peek-a-boo, jump out and surprise the other dog ordeal. He was very excited to have a friend to play with — and he played relatively nicely this time, aside from still being a bit rough. (By the way, no idea what that white floating stuff in the video is – not my house!)

Yesterday Loki got to go on a trip to the Berkeley Marina/Cesar Chavez park and met tons of doggy friends. If you haven’t been, Cesar Chavez park is this big strip of grassy land jutting out into the ocean with lots of paths and tons of people with their dogs. It’s kind of like an island doggy paradise — complete with little chipmunks everywhere for dogs to try to chase! I would definitely check it out if you’re in the area.

After walking around in the grassy area for a while, I wanted to take Loki down to the water to give him his first glimpse of the ocean, while also honing his mountaineering skills. He seemed to be so fascinated by it all that he forgot for a while about his need to eat every object imaginable within his reach — or maybe the sea sludge on the rocks was too gross even for him.



The whole time we were exploring Loki’s new oceanic frontier, we didn’t know, until turning around, we were getting the “stare of disapproval.”

Coincidentally, this is the same look I get when I haven’t made a new blog post in a while. 🙂

Adventure day with mountain dog!

Julie had a big work thing today, so that left me and Loki by ourselves to have some fun! After dropping her off and driving back to the house, I could tell Loki couldn’t wait to go out and have some adventures.


Or…you know…take a long nap… It was raining pretty hard anyway so adventures would have to wait until later. You can’t say no to a good nap on a rainy day.


After we were all rested up, we headed out to meet some new friends! We decided to check out a local park to meet some doggie and kiddie friends. Loki couldn’t wait.


Sadly, it looked like not everyone was feeling as adventurous as us on this rainy day. We only ran into a few other dogs. We tried throwing his hol-ee roller ball, but he was more interested in sniffing around in the grass. Next stop was Indian rock.


According to Wikipedia, the Shiba is “A small, agile dog that copes very well with mountainous terrain.” This looked like an excellent time to put Loki to the test. As you can see here, he’s a born mountaineer. We started with this smaller climb called “Mortar Rock” but Loki was like “Please, you call this a rock??” So we moved on to the larger Indian rock.


He had a tough time staying on the designated path, but Loki scaled the mini-mountain with ease, meeting a number of students and Berkeley natives along the way. Indian rock is a great place to sit, enjoy the scenery (ignoring the bud light cans..damn college students) and reflect on life while watching the sun set over the bay area. Or in Loki’s case, reflect on “what’s that noise over there?” and “I wonder if I can eat this?”

After the sun went down and Loki said goodbye to his adoring fans, we drove back and he ravenously finished his early dinner. After sitting down to my laptop to search for some “food toys” to help him eat a little more slowly, I realized I hadn’t heard him for a while and got suspicious. After searching the whole house and not being able to find him, I came back to my chair and realized why.