Explorer in Training: Navigating Life With a Puppy

Explorer in Training: Navigating Life With a Puppy

  • Erin Swanson

Kellie Peaslee is an avid outdoor enthusiast – from hiking hundreds of miles throughout the U.S. to backpacking all four seasons. Her blog, The Dirt Bag Hiker, provides hiking and fishing resources to inspire others to explore the outdoors – as well as a section called "Dirty Dog" for those bringing their fur-covered friends. Kellie recently adopted a Brittany puppy named Hatch. Here, she shares what she's learned while navigating life – and the outdoors – with a puppy.

Driving home with our puppy was nothing short of comical. This was Hatch’s very first car ride, and we were instructed to have him in our lap so he wouldn't get carsick. So, in my lap he sat, staring at me with big, green, sleepy eyes.

Quickly, he melted into me, not impacted by the world around him. He tossed and turned in his sleep and slept in positions that made me think we got a puppy that didn’t have a single bone in his body. Each position made me realize the trust he had in me not to let him slip off my lap; or so I would like to think. Now that he is four months old, I see that this is Hatch’s world and we’re all just living in it.

A young puppy wearing a Ruffwear harness sits by a lake.

Our lives were full of excitement after bringing home a 7-week-old puppy. From his first car ride to his first cuddles, we were on our way to developing a bond that can’t be broken. Now, Hatch, our white and liver freckled Brittany, is four months old!

Let me tell you what we’ve learned so far…

Schedules, Schedules, Schedules

A puppy sits on a hiking trail and looks out at the mountains.

We learned the puppy dictates the schedule. Thinking we could maintain our daily schedules while introducing a puppy into our lives was silly. We wanted to set him up for the most success during potty training so we were outside almost every 30 minutes.

Now, at 4 months, he shows us grace by sitting by the door when it’s time to go. Hatch’s schedule consisted of being awake for 1 hour followed by 1 hour of napping. This was the pattern for almost a full week! As you can imagine, these days all blurred together.

Flexibility is Key

A woman hikes with her puppy in the woods.

He is now at an age where I have clearly noticed a transition. He sleeps through the night but stays awake for about 3 hours at a time during the day. When he’s awake, he demands attention and lets us know when he needs to move around or play. He now recognizes the sound of the treat jar AND the fridge.

He also tells us when he’s getting sleepy which involves about 15 minutes of puppy zoomies and tug-of-war, quickly followed by passing out in our laps because it’s the most comfortable + safe place. As he gets older, his routine is changing, and we need to change with him so we can all be successful in the end.

Live In The Moment

A woman pets her puppy as they sit by a mountain lake.

We have learned to live in the moment. He’s growing so quickly!

Although he’s still a small puppy, we’ll never get back those baby blue eyes or the head that appears to be way too big for his body. Seeing him tilt head when trying to go potty or drink water was pretty comical. He had a tiny body and long legs that he didn’t quite know how to work yet.

Practice Patience

A puppy plays with a Ruffwear Lunker™ Floating Throw Toy in a lake.

Hatch has taught us patience and helped us embrace the little things in life. Patience in knowing we are going to clean up accident after accident. Understanding that he doesn’t speak human but we will slowly be able to instill some fundamental tasks for him.

And no matter how many times we clean up messes, or repeat ourselves, we admire him with love and a smile, knowing this puppy is trusting us to guide him through life. How can you not forgive a puppy that is so stinking cute!

The Journey is the Destination

A woman cuddles with her puppy while they sit by a lake.

We get to slow down and enjoy the journey together. From enjoying a complicated life with a new puppy, to meeting new humans and dogs, to being companions when camping, fishing and running. This journey is something to enjoy.

I know we will have many more firsts with Hatch, and we’ll get the chance to show him new adventures. I’m so grateful that he has already brought smiles to so many people. We know he will be a continuous light in our lives and others. He will help us experience a love so deep and help us learn more about ourselves as each day goes on. Little does he know, he’ll be a backpacker, hiker, swimmer, runner, and best friend.

Hatch, we love you!

Want to keep track of Kellie and Hatch's journey? Follow along on Instagram at @thedirtbaghiker and on The Dirt Bag Hiker blog.

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