Lindy | Wagger Athlete April 2012

Breed: Black Lab mix
Age: 2
Residence: Jericho
Family: Humans, Dan and Chris Smith; cats, Milo and Doubleday
Primary Sports: Hiking and fetch

For a Georgia-born dog, Lindy Smith has really taken to the Vermont climate, hiking happily on snow-covered trails. The black Lab mix is always ready to tackle a mountain, swim in a lake, or play fetch for hours on end. Her humans are thrilled at the way she’s taken to the Green Mountain State and enhanced their outdoor adventures.

VS: I understand you’re not a native Vermonter. How did you end up with your current humans?
L: I’m originally from Georgia. I lived in a shelter there until I was 8 months old. Some nice people took me out of the shelter and paid for me to travel to Good Karma Rescue in Vermont. Teal and Lyndsey at Good Karma took care of me, got to know me, and matched me with my humans. It was a perfect match! They love the outdoors as much as I do, and I worked up to my current fitness level by hiking with them. Now I can hike mountains all day; my humans always get tired before I do.

VS: What are some of your favorite winter trails?
L: That’s tough because I have so many favorite trails, but I really love the Burrows Trail to the Camel’s Hump summit. After a snowfall, the trail becomes packed quickly so I can run on the trail or bound through the powder in the trees, although this year there wasn’t as much powder as I would have liked. I also enjoy going backcountry skiing with my humans on the Overland Trail in Underhill.

VS: What do you do after the snow melts?
L: Mud season is hard because I have to stay off the mountain trails, but as soon as they firm up, I’m back to hiking. In April and May, I hike at lower elevations and have fun getting muddy. In the summer, the Hedgehog Brook Trail up to Burnt Rock Mountain is one of my favorites because it has everything a dog loves: water to splash in, sticks to carry, ledges to climb, and a nice summit to hang out on.

VS: Do you prefer hiking in snow or on dirt trails?
L: I like both, but I love snow! I’m mostly Lab, and I have paws with webbed toes that are very resistant to ice balls. Even though I’m a Georgia pup, I love cold weather.

VS: Can your humans keep up with you?
L: Um, no, but I don’t mind waiting for them. It’s funny to watch them make their way up steep rocky sections. Four legs are definitely better than two. I think they’re a little jealous of my four legs since they tend to carry sticks with them when they hike. They hold them in their hands to make extra legs. That’s just silly. I hold my sticks in my mouth.

VS: How often do you get your humans to play fetch with you?
L: Just about every afternoon. If they forget, I know how to give a special longing look to make them remember. I worked very hard to perfect this look, and it almost always gets me a game of fetch.

VS: You’re Dan and Chris’ first dog. Do you think you’re spoiled?
L: Well, I’ve heard that some dogs get human food from the table and I don’t, so I don’t think I’m spoiled. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m a happy pup, and I know I’m a lucky pup. I’ve had so many great outdoor adventures since being adopted. Can I put in a plug for rescue groups and shelters here? If any of your readers are thinking about adding a canine companion to their family, there are a lot of dogs like me still in rescue who would love to become someone’s best hiking buddy.

VS: I’ve been told you scared your humans the first time you went swimming with them. Even though it might embarrass them, can you tell me about it?
L: Well, my humans knew I loved water when they adopted me. What I forgot to tell them is I’d never seen big water—water that was over my head. My foster home only had a wading pool. When I saw big water for the first time, I was so excited. Dan threw a stick into the water, and I jumped in after it and, um, sank. Just for a few seconds! My doggie paddle instinct quickly kicked in, but I was so surprised to find myself under water, and I think I really frightened my humans when I disappeared from sight. Afterward, they went into the water with me to give me encouragement while I perfected my doggie paddle stroke.

VS: So now do you enjoy swimming?
L: Oh yes. I’m a strong swimmer now and swim every chance I get. I am a Lab, after all.

VS: Your humans can’t hike with you during the week. How do you stay in shape for your weekend adventures?
L: It’s very sad that Dan and Chris have to go to some place called “work” during the week. I still get to go on some runs with them, but several days a week I go to Play Dog Play where I have fun with other dogs and humans. They have a great playground, so I’m always ready for the days when I have both my humans full time. I don’t want to brag, but I was voted Pup of the Month there last July.

VS: Tell us about the cats you live with. Do you get along with them?
L: I love my feline siblings. Milo lets me give him big sloppy kisses. I wish Doubleday would let me give him kisses too, but whenever I try, he says no with a bop on my nose. I respect that, but still hope that someday he’ll let me kiss him.

Phyl Newbeck

Phyl Newbeck lives in Jericho with two spoiled orange cats. She is a skier, skater, cyclist, kayaker, and lover of virtually any sport which does not involve motors. She is the author of “Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving.”