Looking at Morro Bay from Cerro Alto

Joe in the Ventana Wilderness

Joe in the Ventana Wilderness
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Sierra grows up on Cerro Alto

Sierra is my ten month old German Shepard mix puppy , she was a Valentine Day gift from my wife Betty . Sierra was 10 weeks old when given to me and I immediately started her an a daily hiking schedule on Cerro Alto , a mountain located in the Los Padres national forest on highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero Ca. . This was a training experience for us both as I knew nothing about how to train a trail dog .
Here she is on Valentine's Day 2012 .
My wife and two grand daughters , Natalie and Maegan presented her to me . I was not only surprised but a little frightened as I had just lost my small lap dog at Christmas time and was not ready for a new puppy . The grand daughters said I needed a trail dog and one of them said I needed her to take care of me on the trail . Well my first thought was I can take care of myself and a dog was only going to be a liability that was going to be more trouble than it was worth . Boy oh boy , was I ever wrong . Sure it was a lot of work in training her but the reward was great as I will share with you later.

Here we are two miles up the trail with a thousand ft of elevation gain.

It took several weeks of training and a lot of patience for Sierra to reach this level on the mountain and she had another 700 feet to climb before reaching then summit . The weather was warming up and it became more difficult for her to hike up the mountain . I had to often carry her as she over heated in her effort to reach the top of the mountain . 
Training her muscles involved a lot of fun !
We sure did have a lot of fun , as I would always include a time for her to play by running on west side of the mountain . Here muscles grew stronger every day . She finally was strong enough to hike to the top of the mountain .

Sierra at the top of Cerro Alto
Sierra , now strong enough to reach the top  of the mountain , but for months as the weather heated up , the hike became very difficult for her . She often had to rest several times to cool off before reaching the top .
During the daily training , Sierra meets many people on the trail and many of these folks were frequent
Cerro Alto hikers and bikers and to this day these folks admire her progress .
Typical encounters for Sierra
Here Sierra meets a family and eats up the attention . This still is a typical reaction by people who meet her on the trail . Now Sierra is a big dog but folks love to visit with her . Several people have told me they would baby sit her if needed . One such person is Janet , and I wish I had a photo of her to post here as she truely loves this dog . She once had me take my Sierra to her home for a visit .
Sierra on Serro Alto Summit
Sierra on the west side of Cerro Alto
Note Sierra is growing up here she weighs about 35 pounds and is no longer wearing the red harness as seen in the earlier photos .
Raising Sierra on Cerro alto mountain has been quite a learning experience for us both . We had to learn how to deal with snakes , mountain lions , coyotes  ,turkeys , horses , bicycles , peacocks , deer , rabbits , bears , rain , lightning , hale, heat , carrying a back pack , other hikers with dogs and the list goes on !
Sierra watching a snake .
Above photos Sierra watching a snake . She treats all snakes as rattlers . She sits and waits for me to remove the snake from the trail . I have photographed and video taped  her watching a snake several time . We have used the videos of rattlers at home for training .
Sierra now recognises animals that are a threat to us and those that are harmless . We returned from a back packing trip into the
Ventana wilderness where Sierra chased one deer , alerted us to one mountain lion and one bear .
She did a very good job at scouting very faint trails that were for the most part covered with chaparral . Her stamina was good and her response to verbal commands were great . She assumes the verbal command to hike in the lead position  , the heel position and the follow position . All in all she is now a very good trail dog
We both have learned a lot and are still learning !
Sierra looking down at Morro Bay from Cerro Alto
I now really enjoy my daily hikes and back packing trips with Sierra and I wonder how I ever got along without her .
Thank You Betty
As a side note I feel much safer back packing into the wilderness when Sierra is with me , I sleep sound and relax when sitting in the dark at night on the trail

Sierra today at ten months old weighing 54 pounds




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