Elderly pup’s 6-year tradition: Bringing a matching toy on every hike.

If you happen to meet Hana and her golden retriever, Gumbo, out on the hiking trail (or really anywhere), chances are you’ll also meet Shrimp, Gumbo’s plushie look-alike.

“He loves to take his best friend and favorite toy, Shrimp, everywhere with him,” Hana told The Dodo. “He just adores and loves showing Shrimp off.”

Gumbo and Shrimp have been inseparable since Hana bought Shrimp from IKEA in 2017. She didn’t buy Shrimp specifically for Gumbo, but not long after Shrimp entered the house, he became Gumbo’s best friend.

In high school, Hana went on occasional hikes with friends, but it was Gumbo who encouraged her to hike on a regular basis.

“We moved to the Pacific Northwest and met some dog friends who got us more into hiking,” Hana said. “So you can say we discovered our love of hiking together.”

Just as Gumbo is Hana’s companion on hikes, Shrimp is Gumbo’s cheerleader.

“We take Shrimp on basically every hike,” Hana said, noting that Shrimp is usually hanging out in her backpack while she and Gumbo are on the trail because Gumbo doesn’t like to carry Shrimp if he’s busy paying attention to the hike and panting.

“Gumbo usually stays pretty close to me,” Hana added. “If he is hiking off-leash (where it is allowed), he will get the zoomies and run up and down the trail.”

“However, now that he is 8.5 years old,” she said, “he’s slowed down a lot and is usually right next to me when we hike together.”

And Gumbo likes to celebrate his achievements on the trail with his best bud.

“Usually at the end of the hike, [Gumbo’s] favorite thing to do is to take Shrimp and show him off to everyone else at the end of the trail,” Hanna said. “He will show him off to my friends I’m hiking with or even strangers who want to come say hi to him.”

“I think he genuinely knows that Shrimp is a ‘special toy,’” Hana said. “Usually, if we have/bring Shrimp, he knows we are going for an adventure.”

There was one time when Hana and Gumbo accidentally left Shrimp behind on a hiking trail. They had already driven about an hour and a half away from the hiking spot when it dawned on Hana that someone was missing.

“So we drive back, and I look, and he’s perched perfectly on the trailhead sign,” Hana said.

For other pet parents who hope to get their dogs into hiking, Hana suggests researching pet-friendly trails near you and making sure you understand your area’s leash laws. And when it’s time to hit the trail, she says a first aid kit is a must-have for your backpack — “for both yourself and your dog.”

And if your dog loves his toys, then take a page from Gumbo and Shrimp’s book and definitely add a travel buddy into your plans.

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