Hiking Perspectives a la dogs

Do you look down or around?

From my observation, most human hiking companions do one or another. By habit, some cast their eyes on the ground, watching for roots, stones, and critters. Others have their heads in the clouds, or at least the ridges and trees.

Just recently, I’ve come to realize these distinctions go for dogs, too.

b  kBelle enjoys the Long View. Sure, she’s part Bassett Hound and can’t help putting her nose to the ground to a certain extent. But with the move to Utah, where even Short Ones can see for miles, she is constantly scanning ridges.

Belle seeks any elevated surface on which to strike the “Land, Ho!” pose. One minute, she’s on a rock outcropping. The next minute, she’s on a fallen log (Hey, that extra 10 inches of height makes a big difference!).

Kip enjoys the Short View. The Australian Shepherd is most concerned with what is on the ground in her immediate area. She’s particularly obsessed with bones. Here in the Oquirrh Mountain foothills, there are plenty of deer bones in various stages of decay. Aside from these treasures, Kip is intent k bon the herd, not the horizon. She keeps track of Belle and her humans. If she looks farther to spot deer or turkeys, it’s only because their movement has caught her eye: something more to herd.

The dogs’ contrasting behaviors has made me appreciate both perspectives and has made me more aware of my own tendencies. I often follow their sight lines and discover more than I would on my own.

Read more about Belle’s nose.

Read more about Kip’s development as a Ride Along Dog.

Posted in Utah on Foot, Utah Wilderness and tagged .


  1. Great perspective on which type of “view” you take. When I’m working outside, I’m the more “down on the ground” viewer, because of course I’m working. Sometimes it takes great effort to break from what I’m doing and look to the horizon, but it is always worth the time! In regards to you looking where the dogs look….I do the same thing with the horses. If the whole herd goes on alert, watching into the woods, I know something is moving there (even if I cannot see or hear it). Mostly it is either turkeys, a fox, or deer…once it was my dog coming back from his morning ritual of checking the perimeter of the property.

  2. Great observation and certainly food for thought!
    Now that I’m in that category of “senior citizen” I tend to walk looking at the ground trying to judge if my size 6’s are going to land secure or not! Before this I think I tended to be able to take everything in; not much escaped me. Then and now, standing still I tend to look to the treetops and especially the sky. Love those nights when the sky is packed with stars – it’s like a thief robbed a jewelry store and during his escape, dropped the bag of diamonds

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