Although he doesn’t say very much, Bertie can certainly express himself. If there’s something he really doesn’t like, he’ll let it be known. But then, he is a terrier, so we wouldn’t expect anything else.
The kind people at Ruffwear, hearing that Bertie often accompanies me on my mountain days, asked if Bertie would like to try one of their Web Master Pro harnesses. I was delighted. Bertie was quite a lot less so. The first time I put it on him, he just point blank refused to walk. It was that, ‘You really can’t expect me to be seen outside in this, can you?’ look, that all terrier owners will know only too well, which is inevitably followed by the dog in question going on strike until the situation changes to their liking.
I decided that I had to ease him gently into the idea of wearing his lovely new harness. He wore it for his last thing at night scoot around the village, and for a quick stroll to the post office. Even for these little forays, harness-donned, Bertie required a fair bit of coaxing!
So, the next time Bertie was due to climb a mountain with me, Helvellyn as it happened, the dog was, as ever, beside himself with excitement. Yes, he was going walkies with his Dad! Yes, it was going to be a long walkies! Yes, it would be a walkies up a mountain! And, no, there probably wouldn’t be any rabbits or squirrels up there, but no, that wouldn’t stop Bertie looking for them! He was going to have a great day, whatever happened. Until he realised that his Web Master Pro Harness was clearly going to feature in the adventure too. I popped him in the car, and just placed the harness on the back seat so he could get used to the idea of its existence during the journey over to the foot of the mountain.
Soon after setting off on the walk, Bertie sporting what he clearly thought of as an instrument of torture, he began to forget about the harness, or at least tolerate it. Things changed for the better when he discovered that the side pockets of the Web Master Pro held a secret cache of dog biscuits, if only he was bendy enough to get at them, and could coordinate his paws to unzipper the zips! A biscuit in his chops for being a ‘good boy’, and he at last started to walk with something like his usual king-of-the-mountain, terrier gait.
Once we hit the snowline, for this was a winter ascent, Bertie seemed to have actually forgotten that he was wearing the harness. His demeanour changed, and he began to relax into the business of bunny hunting (yes, I know there aren’t any on Helvellyn, but for goodness sake, don’t tell Bertie!).
The ground became frozen, and on steep sections where I was using an ice axe and crampons, Bertie coped with his in-built crampons for a while, and then allowed me to pick him up using the large, glove-friendly carry handle on the harness. For me, this was the highlight of the day, as Bertie obviously didn’t realise that, being carried, he didn’t have to move his legs. I carried him for 50m or so, all the while Bert’s legs air-walking as he made headway up the slope.
At last Bertie seemed to be back to his usual (occasionally grumpy) self. He enjoyed a bit of a bum-slide on the snow. Sat and watched his Dad while he took weather readings at the summit. Bert even posed for a summit selfie in a whiteout, all the while sporting his smart new harness.
The Ruffwear Web Master Pro was actually designed for mountain rescue and avalanche teams. Nobody’s told Bertie yet that he’s not actually a team member, but he’s getting very attached to his new harness.
Retailing at around £100 the Web Master Pro is a really, truly great bit of kit for any mountain-going dog. I’m happy taking Bertie out in wild country, over rocky ground, snowy slopes, or whatever the mountains can throw at us, and knowing that Bertie is wearing a superbly designed, professional quality harness. If Bertie could talk, and I were to ask him if he liked his new harness, I suspect he’d say, ‘It’s alright, I suppose!’ Typical teenager!
For more info on the Ruffwear Web Master Pro, visit Ruffwear