Since 2019, Woof and his owner have worked through the famous "NH 48," a series of 4,000-foot-high mountains in New Hampshire.
Woof, a nine-year-old pug from New Hampshire, was described by his previous owners as “just too hyper” for their family. But Woof and his new owners channeled all that energy into a new hobby: hiking. Now, Woof has completed the “NH 48” — a circuit of all of New Hampshire’s 48 tallest mountains, each of which is higher than 4,000 feet.
As the Miami Herald reported, New Hampshire resident Erin McMahon and her husband adopted Woof in 2015. He was just a year and a half old, but his wild energy didn’t pose a problem for his new owners.
“Having grown up with big dogs that needed to be walked I figured walking Woof every day would help manage his energy, even though he’s a pug which aren’t typically known for exercising,” McMahon said.
McMahon had been an avid hiker for nearly two decades before adopting her young pug. She started hiking in groups in high school and later discovered a love for solo hiking. It wasn’t long before her daily walks with Woof led them to hike along flat trails – and eventually, Woof was joining along on higher and higher trails.
“I had done some of the 4000s casually before owning Woof but once I started hiking with him regularly we made it our goal,” McMahon said.
Then, in 2019, Woof and McMahon completed a 20-mile hike in one day, reaching the summit of the pug’s first NH 48 mountain. Over the course of the next three years, they tackled the remaining 47 mountains.
“When I get up he knows when I’m going hiking (versus) working and he is right on my heels,” McMahon said. “I could’ve finished the 48 on my own in probably a year but I felt bad leaving him behind when I knew he wanted to come, so we took our time and went together.”
And while other pets have completed journeys throughout the NH 48, Woof may very well be the first pug to complete it.
Though that may not be the case for long. Woof and McMahon were accompanied on 36 of the 48 hikes by Woof’s sister, Lemon, another pug who joined the family in 2020 — and Lemon is only three years old.
According to Boston.com, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) 4,000-Footer Club does not have a thorough record of the specific dog breeds that have hiked these 4,000-foot mountains, but the committee receives dozens of applications every year. So far, a total of 445 dogs have joined the club.
Regardless, McMahon is clearly impressed with her adventurous pug. According to a Facebook post she wrote after Woof completed the NH 48 on April 15, she explained that the pug “did the ascents 99% unassisted… he walks the entire trail but does need the occasional lift across water or up onto a higher rock.”
She added that Woof weighs around 20 pounds, “so I’m definitely not carrying him up!”
“[It has] been really fun to watch him really turn into a little hiker. If he can’t jump up or down he will figure out his own way around,” McMahon said. “We’ve developed a really special connection. I always say he would follow me off a cliff, which in a way is true. He trusts me 100% if I have to lift him up, climb down and reach back for him or carry him while rock hopping across a stream; he knows I’ve always got his back.”
Pugs are also a breed notoriously plagued with health issues due to their brachycephalic nature — that is, having broad, short skulls which can make breathing and physical exercise particularly difficult.
McMahon had to take extra care as they were hiking to ensure that Woof would not overheat, and carried with her a dog first aid kit and small dog backpack in case he needed to be carried.
But the impressive pup still hiked along beside McMahon most of the time and even inspired other hikers along the way.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘If the pug can do it, I can do it.’ [It has] been really fun to watch him really turn into a little hiker,” McMahon said.
After reading about Woof the pug and his journey through New Hampshire’s mountain trails, meet Van Gogh, the one-eared dog who paints with his tongue. Then, learn the true story of Hachikō, the world’s most loyal dog.