Nali is our sweet dog. We got her six years ago when she was just two months old. We chose her out of the litter because she was the most shy and calm of the puppies. She didn’t jump up and try to play with us, or bite or bark at us. She had some dirt crusted onto her ear. We liked her style. When I picked her up she just melted in my arms, completely relaxed. She’s always been a pro at snuggling and likes to lay as close as possible, maximizing shared surface area or she’ll just climb on up for a full lap sit. When I’m reading on the couch she will lay her head on my knee and look up at me like hey, whatcha doin’? My favorite is when I put my face close to hers and she stretches out her neck and puts her face super close to my face and just keeps it there, looking at me sideways. Sometimes she will sniff my eyeballs. I don’t know what this means.
We don’t know much about her breed, we call her a black lab mix. People love to speculate though. I’ve spent hours discussing her possible origins with friends and strangers. Most say she’s got border collie in her because she loves herding people on the trail. One day at the dog park, while she was running like the wind, a man came up and told me with complete confidence that she was part whippet. Fair enough. I admire the ambiguity though, that you can’t just put her in a box with labels.
Like her majestic mountain namesake, Nali can be dignified and sophisticated. She likes to lay down with her long front legs stretched out and crossed like a proper lady. She likes to sleep curled up in a perfect ball with her nose in her tail. She has a soft mouth, never bites and she doesn’t stick her head out the car window like an uncivilized fool. When camping she prefers luxury. Instead of laying at our feet on a blanket we put out for her, she will sprawl out right in the middle of her humans, hogging both of our sleeping pads and sleeping bags, displacing us to the cold outer corners of the tent.
Most of the time she is anything but dignified. When she’s feeling silly she’ll lay on her back and curl into a comma, exposing her underbelly and pawing for rubs. With her head upside down, her ears uncurl and flip out resembling a bat. When she gets really excited she will put her ears back and make little pfff sneezing noises through her nose, her tail in full on destruction mode. When she is curious about something she puts her nose up in the air and her snout goes sideways like a bear.
Like most dogs she is a four-legged contradiction. She doesn’t make a peep when there are fireworks going off over her head but she’ll go totally bonkers on a mislocated garbage bin. She wouldn’t be caught dead chewing a shoe or eating food that’s left laying around, but she’s not above chowing down on some bar soap she found in the shower. She can snooze all day long on the comfy couch or in the backyard but when she’s on the summit of a beautiful, peaceful mountain she cannot relax even a little bit and will whine impatiently until we keep moving. She insists on pulling me up the mountain which is annoying (yet sometimes totally necessary). But there will be a magical moment on the way down the mountain when she will finally relax, stop pulling on the leash and fall perfectly into heel position. This moment is bliss. It’s as if she knows we are getting close to the end of the trail and if she slows down just a little bit, it will continue on forever.
Peanut Butter Nali Biscuits (basically the only thing that keeps her quiet on the trail):
2 c whole wheat flour
1 c rolled oats
1/3 c peanut butter (the low sugar and salt kind)
1 1/4 c water
Combine ingredients, roll out, and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. You can get some cute dog shaped cookie cutters or just use your Christmas cookie cutters. Your dog won’t know the difference, I promise.
This is the heartwarming story of a dog named Atticus M. Finch that inspired his owner to get out, get in shape, and conquer all forty-eight of the four thousand foot peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. They completed their goal. But after a close friend died from cancer they decided to do it again. Only this time they climbed them all twice, all in one winter and while raising money for cancer. No big deal. Atticus becomes famous around town for his amazing feat, but he remains modest. He puts his head down and leads the way up the mountains through the snow and howling wind. Upon reaching the summit he sits quietly and looks out at the view earning him the nickname “Little Buddha”. Nali could certainly learn a thing or two from the little zen master. Tom continues sharing their story on his blog The Adventures of Tom & Atticus.
Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?Backpack
Let your dog hog the tent a little and bond while reading this charming book out loud to her.