The Evolution of a Hiking Dog!

Our Time with Fitz Roy: We’re So Glad to be Adopted by a Great Dog!

Few things have proven more satisfying to us than the adventure of dog ownership.

We cannot imagine life without Fitzroy!

When Sylvia and Brian married in 2009, Brian committed on paper to a dog. But that commitment stayed on paper for nearly a decade. Many valid concerns and objections were raised, including the financial burden of dog ownership (not by any means small) the question of what to do when we travel and what breed was the correct one for us, owing to the amount of space, the amount of time we have as a working couple, our active lifestyle etc.

All of these questions were resolved when Fitz Roy, the inaugural member of BecauseItzThere’s sled dog team, adopted us in December of 2018. For all the time Brian spent wondering about whether a dog was right for him, the transition was surprisingly easy. Once, Brian questioned whether owning a dog was worth it. Now, he questions why he ever thought this. Today Brian can’t conceive of NOT owning a dog; he will never be without one again.

Fitzroy and Sylvia on the Neuse River Greenway


Not that the path has been entirely easy. Fitz Roy was adopted at the age of ten months as a rescue dog, and unfortunately we lost the key period in a puppy’s life when proper socialization should occur. The previous owner didn’t, or couldn’t, do the job. The result has been a lot of work and difficulty as Sylvia and Brian must do after the fact what could have done much more easily before.

Sylvia has become BecauseItzThere’s official Dog Whisperer
Many pictures of Fitz Roy are taken at rest stops and thus feature his collapsible green water cup.


Fitz is not yet the dog we would prefer him to be, especially as a companion in the outdoors. To be a hiking dog, he must be master of himself…enthusiastic, but at all times calm and manageable. Too much can go wrong on a trail to be able to control a dog that can’t control itself. Fitz isn’t there yet, but we have every bit of confidence that with continual application, he eventually will be.

The Red Donut is Fitz’s favorite toy at the moment

As a member of the household. You could not ask for a better dog. Fitz is fun, loving, gentle, obedient, clean by the standards of most dogs, knows his boundaries, doesn’t jump on furniture, is completely housebroken and is a vigilant guardian.

Sylvia insisted Brian would “look good framed against the mulch” in the background of this photo.

To sum up…there are simply far more good than bad things to say about Fitz, and to watch his progress and improvement has been a joy.

We have already established rules for conduct and realistic expectations for Fitz, which begin in the home. He has been an attentive student and has taken well to the rules.

One could not ask for a better dog around the house than Fitz Roy.

Outdoors, it’s all about getting him used to what we do while not asking too much of him. We won’t take him on bigger hikes until he proves he can do the small ones first. Currently we are working with him on the jogging path near our home in Raleigh…the excellent Neuse River Greenway. We also work with him in Joyner Park in the town of Wake Forest. Both these places offer great scenic walking on wide, paved paths with plenty of traffic and plenty of visibility, so both we and Fitz know what’s coming next. We have learned that an excited, distrustful dog deals poorly with surprises.

On a recent hike along the Neuse River Trail with Fitz we observed both parents in the Osprey’s nest near the trail.

Taking him out to the North Raleigh’s Millbrook Exchange Dog Park has also helped. The difference between Fitz on a leash and off is amazing…he loves to run around free with other dogs and is remarkably docile around people. But on the leash, he is grouchy and nervous. We are working with him to overcome this.

One thing Sylvia and Brian have agreed on is that will never allow Fitz to run lose outside our property or another enclosed area. He will always be on a leash. A spirited Husky-Inu is simply not a dog that could ever be off a leash for various reasons, if such a dog even exists.

Some would question which end of the leash Brian should be on.

Moreover, Sylvia and Brian simply do not believe any dog should EVER be off leash in a populated area. We of course are aware there are many people who don’t think this. A few such people live in our own neighborhood.

As with many other things in life, our experience is that the number of people who think they know what they are doing vastly exceeds the number of people that actually do. So it is with the ‘dogs with unleashed humans’ crowd.

A dog owner has a responsibility to his dog, to themselves and to their family, and to other people and other dogs. There is no way to accomplish any of this with an uncontrolled dog…it puts all of those things at risk. We have no patience or tolerance for anybody who does not leash their dogs in public.

Oh and by the way…it’s the law in 90% of places.

Fitz on the trail at Medoc Mountain. As always when we are in public, he is securely leashed.

Someday we believe that we will be able to do some real mountain hiking, and maybe even overnight expeditions, with Fitz. We’re not there yet but we are working towards it.

We hope to show here the progress of fix as he graduates from nervous trail newbie to experienced hiking dog!


The object behind Brian’s head in this photo is a kite, not part of his head flying off.



One thought on “The Evolution of a Hiking Dog!

  1. Pingback: Spring is Here, Time for Hiking…and Updates! – BecauseItzThere

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