LOST: On the Salmon River Trail



Has this ever happened to you when you’re hiking with your dogs?  This is a true story followed by some important tips about what to do if this happens to you:  From how I imagine Shermie felt…

So, we went hiking over winter break and Mom and Dad took us to the Salmon River Trail. This is by far my favorite hike but this time a scent took me off the trail and out of my comfort zone.

I picked up the scent and ran quickly – I knew that dog had been there recently and my number one job was to track him. Over a log and branches, the scent was fresh — where did he go? The forest smells were overwhelming but nothing could take me off his trail.

WAIT. All of a sudden, I realized just for a split second that Mom and Dad, Bruiser and Walter were NO WHERE. They were behind me, right? I turned around and started to back track down the trail and I was terrified. Then I could hear them calling my name but their voices were full of angst and Mom sounded anxious. And then a few seconds later I was back with them all.

I wasn’t surprised that the leash was clipped onto my harness immediately. I had to immediately lay down and catch my breath. I was back, safe… it was fine that my off leash privileges were taken away. I hate to say it but it’ll happen again, I just cannot help myself.


What if this DID happen? Do you have a plan on how you’d find your dog? Here are some FAQs:

  • How’s your dog’s recall? Have you taken a class? Try this: a reliable recall
  • Is your dog micro-chipped?
  • Do you have a GPS device you can use during hikes? Whistle, Garmin – there are a lot of brands to choose from. I’m saving up for a Garmin as those are clearly what hunters use.
  • DON’T PANIC. Your dog doesn’t want to run away from you – stay on the path.
  • IF your dog is lost: here are some rules of engagement 

Bottom line is: Keep a leash on your dog if you cannot trust them. Sherman has been trained and it’s very seldom he wanders off without a check-in. I trust him. On the other hand, I don’t trust Walter as his nose takes him where he wants to go so without a Garmin, he stays on leash. And even then…

*it’s hard to see but Walter is on a leash -long line- below

Sherm running on the mtn



There are 31 Comments

  1. I love Salmon River Trail! That’s a great hike! I’m sorry you got lost out there for a minute but it’s definitely an easy thing to have happen! We lost our girls for around 5 minutes when they took off after a deer when we were hiking in the mountains in California. It was the scariest 5 minutes of my life. Luckily they turned around and came back and were very tired and happy. The area where they took off is pretty much inaccessible to humans! I was so relieved when they came back and they also lost their off leash privileges for a while!

    • It’s one of our favorite hikes by far! Losing them for five minutes I bet felt like an eternity. I’ve also had Walter take off into blackberry bushes after rabbits and getting in there is impossible so that feeling is even worse! The pack walk typically works ok off leash as Walter and Shermie run together but I’ve run into some trouble spots… Thanks for sharing!

  2. How scary! Something that I’ve done with Magic, when he was a wild young thing eager to dash ahead, is to take a pocketful of treats. Then every time he LOOKED at me, he’d get a treat. And of course, he had to come close to get it…this creates an “auto-check-in” with dogs, so even if they range off the trail or run ahead, they tend to come back to check with you as a matter of course. It’s their decision, too…not something YOU have to force. Make sure the treats are something really delish that the dog never ever gets otherwise.

    • Thanks! The look at me game is amazing. I play all the time with Walter as he’s reactive on leash in the neighborhood so I appreciate this advice! I like when it’s their decision and it’s a great idea to have treats on my person all the time. AND to your point, I don’t always remember to bring high value treats – they’re boring and to get that auto check in I need meatballs. Appreciate your comments.

  3. That looks like a great place to get lost and hike! 🙂

  4. Its so easy to get lost, I’m so glad everyone was safe though.

  5. Kelly says:

    That must have been worrisome for you and your mom! Happy that all ended well and you reunited safety.

  6. I never let either of my dogs off leash. Bentley’s Basset Hound nose will lead his astray and Pierre might see a squirrel. LOL!

  7. Mr. N is normally very good off-leash… but one time he saw a bunch of horses and lost his tiny little brain. I’m very glad he didn’t get trampled.

  8. This is a really scary scenario. We don’t let Ruby off leash. She doesn’t stray from us, but she does get spooked sometimes and I’m afraid if something scared her she might take off.

    • I think it’s better to be safe than sorry! I trust Shermie but I don’t trust Walter at all. I thin as they get older they’ll stick a little closer/ The older guy at least couldn’t out run me… Smart to keep Ruby ON leash.

  9. FiveSibesMom says:

    Talk about a heart-stopping scare! Great tips. With Siberian Huskies, we keep them leashed at all times, I use a double-leash system – a harness with a leash, and a collar with all their tags and a leash. This way, in case one ever breaks or comes undone, we have a back up as Huskies love to run!

  10. Cathy Armato says:

    That’s a scary few moments. I never have my dogs off leash because Huskies tend to be hard wired to RUN and can easily get caught up & run for miles before realizing they’re lost. An even bigger reason, I don’t trust that every other person they may encounter while off leash is kind. Many dogs have been shot by others who say the off leash dog “frightened” them or they felt the dog was charging toward them & feared they were “threatened”. The law is unfortunately almost always on the side of that person if the dog was off leash running loose. It’s not worth it to me. Great idea to have a GPS on your dog if you do have them off leash.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • So scary!! It was the first time he’s taken off after a scent and both my husband and I looked at each other like, “where is Sherman – he hasn’t come back for a check in yet?” – it was horrible. And I’m with you, whatever he took off after could be friendly but what if they’re not? it’s also not worth it to me. They stay ON leash unless it’s a public park type area where I don’t have to worry as much. I felt like I was going to vomit after about 2 minutes. We’re using GPS devised like Whistle but I think I’m going to need to invest in a Garmin tracker…

  11. I imagine it’s a tough call. Our yard is enclosed by a huge retaining wall and to avoid chasing Bear Cat in circles (his favorite game), I’ve started to let him come inside on his own time (with me checking on him every couple minutes). He’s never taken the stairs out of the yard … but I imagine that’s how it happens. It only takes a few seconds … a strange situation (chasing something or being chased) … and he’d be gone. My one moment of panic happened when a new person moved in upstairs and I didn’t know he had a dog until it was on the deck above our front porch and I heard it growling at me. My new neighbors left their pit bull outside on their deck without restraint … and their deck is ground level (our unit is underground on one side and the entrance is on the other). Even if you trust YOUR furbaby … you never know what else it lurking out there. Thanks for linking up to the Showcase!

    • I was SO freaked out – he’d never done anything like it before. A dog or critter must have run down the path right before we got on it. Right! Only a few seconds! Oh my gosh – I’m sorry your neighbors didn’t give you a head’s up on that — just courtesy, right? You never know – thank you for hosting!

  12. Jan K says:

    With Cricket’s nose, and Luke’s fearfulness, I don’t let them off leash. But we have with some of our past dogs, and as good as they were, we still had a couple scares. Luckily, in the end, they found their way back to us!
    There was no GPS available back then, but I think if I were to ever let a dog off leash again, I would have to have one of those.

    • I will never make that mistake again – I don’t know what I was thinking!! After a few instances like that all my dogs are going on long leads. I would never forgive myself! I agree about those Garmins….

  13. Beth says:

    I’m so glad that everything turned out ok in the end. Barley is reactive–if we lived in a vacuum with no other dogs or children in it, she’d be fine off-leash, but since you never know who else is out there, she is never off leash for everyone’s safety. Rye is way to much of a little hound to ever trust her, either. She forgets I exist when there’s a good smell out in the world 🙂

    • Me too! I just about thought that was it and what a mistake I made. Everything turned to chaos in like 5 seconds. All the dogs forget I exist too! No matter how good their recall is in the park or neighborhood…. my lesson learned…

  14. dawn says:

    How scary even if it was a short time. Glad Sherman kept his wits about him and got back. Good advice for people to keep in mind.

    Thanks for sharing with the Pet Blogger Showcase!

    • We’ll never take that chance again in an area with such steep drop offs to the Salmon Rover. No kidding – I thought we’d be looking all day and I had that terrible pit in my stomach. Thank you for hosting the showcase!

  15. Jodi Stone says:

    OMG that is super scary. I’m glad Sherman found his way back!

    Delilah is my runner, and many has been the walk where she’s taken off on me. SO, for like the last two to three years, she’s only been on leash. And it’s only been within the last six months or so, where I’ve unclipped her in the driveway to walk back up to the house. I use treats and toss them in front of her to keep her attention. And just a few minutes ago, she walked beside me on the trail, totally off-leash for about 5 minutes. But the progress has been super slow.

    Once, Sampson got lost from us in the woods up the street. He ran ahead, but then once he got there, he must have forgotten which way he came from, so he circled back. BUT meanwhile, we had made it to the field and he wasn’t there. This made us frantic as you know. Hubs went one way and I went the other and eventually I ran into him. Then of course, he also lost those off-leash privileges.

    I’m glad it turned out ok!

    • It was like my worst nightmare. I love that you’re training in the driveway –such a great idea as sometimes I’ll get them from their crates and then just usher them into the garage to the house without a leash and I think omg what did I just do- if there is even a cat! 5 minutes on the train is GREAT. I haven’t let Walter off his leash in years 😉 OMG: the Sampson story is horrible. I know exactly how you all felt!! You too!!