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Meet Sirus. 

She’s our baby. 

A 6-year-old Weimaraner

She went to the vet this weekend for her just-in-time for summer checkup. She’s better protected than we are. Monthly flea and tic treatments. Kennel cough vaccination, also a good idea for dogs who hike during the summer. 

Hike? Boy, does she. 

She’s even got her own pack. 

Apparently there’s some debate over doggie backpacks. But I agree with the folks who say larger working dogs do just fine. Sirus has her own saddle pack, and carries her food and water on weekend camping trips. The key is to balance the weight evenly on either side. She also takes her backpack very seriously. This is clearly a job for her, with no time for dilly-dallying among the underbrush like she would without the pack. 

Mountainsmith human bags – hip packs, duffels, car organizers – hold up amazingly well, and have great suspension and extras, like pockets just wear you need them. They make a doggie pack too. I haven’t seem them, but judging from their other bags, and this review, it’s probably a safe bet. 

Other brands make them too. Sirus’s is burried in packing boxes, or I’d mention hers. She’s had it a few years. A cautionary note: they aren’t easy to find. Some Petcos have them, I think. Some REIs do. Amazon has Kelty packs (also probably a good bet), but the Mountainsmith are out of stock. Small online dog-based stores might be the best bet, or a local speciality store. 

I have a new baby. She’s an Osprey, Ariel 75. Oh so pretty.

I hadn’t planned on getting a new pack. Too cost-prohibitive for a grad student researcher salary. But this summer I worked part time at Eastern Mountain Sports. I couldn’t resist.

My old pack, a workhorse Kelty, dates to 1996. My mom bought it for me, in honor of my pending semester in Jerusalem. We went to the only outdoor shop in our little town. The place had a tiny backyard on a major street where a rickety fence tried to hold up a host of kayaks and canoes, which looked like they might topple onto cars at any minute. The shop itself looked like a glorified shack from the outside. Inside, all I remember is my Kelty, a purply-blue and black. It was one of the first packs made to fit a woman. The straps hugged my shoulders, the hip-belt my waist, like the other packs didn’t.

The pack has weathered Patagonia and Lapland, the Alps, the Negev, the Adirondacks, Gibraltar and Machu Picchu, to name a few. The fabric has held up brilliantly. A few years ago I lost a screw thingy that kept a stay in place. Sometime before Peru a couple of plastic brackets fell off, so I had to tie some straps together to keep everything in place. I ditched the chest staps years ago, before I knew what they were for. All those little things added up to big annoyances – and possible safety hazards. In the Adirondacks last summer, the top of my pack refused to stay on straight. In a thunderstorm, on slick rocks, I fell and reinjured my bad shoulder. My fault and the weathers’, but an unbalanced pack didn’t help.

And then I started selling packs. The new versions are so lightweight, they shed pounds from my Kelty. I slipped on an Osprey and knew I had to have it. Could my Kelty have sufficed? Sure. But the Osprey’s high-tech features sang a siren’s song. Like the ventilated back. The differently-size hip belts that can be heated and molded to my frame. The light construction that felt like carrying air.

Working at EMS gave me a mad discount, so here I am – with my my new baby. See the extra thick plastic clasp on the chest strap? That’s an emergency whistle. Clever. Totally freaks out the dog.