Mountain Hike Revelations: What did I get, a dog or a chamois?

Jepii Mari Trail with Ares

When I decided on what breed of dog to get, I had a clear picture in my head – I wanted one that was big and looked like a wolf. My friend Loredana (you should definitely check her travel blogs, Travel – Moments in Time and Earth Attractions) came to my rescue and recommended a place called Lupi Albi (White Wolves). Yeah, spot on! So I went with a White Swiss Shepherd, pedigree and all.

Now, I love my dog, spend a lot of time with him, but for the first nine months of his life… I had no clue he was actually a chamois disguised as a dog. If you don’t know what a chamois is, click the link on the name, or read on. In Romanian, we call them Black Goats. They live in the mountains and as you might imagine, they are pretty good at climbing.

How did I discover the secret identity of Ares the Dog? I took him on a hike!

Left- more difficult part of the trail. Right - Ares walking up the mountain, all casual!
Left- more difficult part of the trail. Right – Ares walking up the mountain, all casual!

As planned, I now had a huge dog to protect me, so going hiking with another female friend in the middle of the week and slightly out of season was awesome and safe. Not that hiking trails in Busteni, Romania are particularly dangerous, but better safe than sorry.

Yup, you're supposed to hang on to that!
Yup, you’re supposed to hang on to that!

So of we went on this 4-5 hour hike up the mountain – the Jepii Mari trail, accessible from Busteni (Carpathian Mountains, Prahova Vally, just to give you a better sense of where it is). I hadn’t been up this trail in long, long years, so I’d forgotten it was a medium difficulty one. Tall rocks to climb, which are fine for a moderately active person, but they were three times taller than my dog.

Dog and human PDA

At first, I tried to help him up. It was not the best idea and I suspect I actually made it harder on him. When I finally stepped back (or went ahead and climbed first), something happened. Ares dropped his cover and started acting like the chamois he really is. He was off leash throughout the hike and I was terrified. He always walked almost on the edge of the trail, he easily climbed up huge boulders, and seamlessly jumped down when needed.

If he deemed anything on the trail tricky, he’d stop and wait for my friend and I to pass. You know, to make sure we managed :D.

Jepii Mari Hike, Busteni

I have to tell you though, he really tried hard to keep his shepherd cover intact! If other hikers caught up to us (we were very busy chatting and stopping a million times for photos), he’d go greet them. When inevitably they went ahead, he’d try his best to run in between the two groups (ours and theirs) to show of his herding skills.

As for his role as a protector? There wasn’t much need for it. We did run into a dead bear (and by the time we got back, there were people investigating to make sure nothing untoward happened), but he didn’t turn zombie on us.

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