Pets take effort. I often get frustrated Baxter stops to sniff every five steps. Or when he dawdles outside the house where the Dobermans live, in the hopes that they’ll come out to play. I admit I don’t love heading outside in the dark for the final pee break of the day.

I learned that Lindsay’s Ace & Beamer had died on the same day, and Barbara’s Missy had also died. Throughout the day, I had been debating whether to take Baxter for a hike the next morning with our group.

Since having a baby, hikes take a bit more effort.

We go on lots of walks just the three of us, but meeting up with the group means Ellie’s sleeping and feeding schedule have to be adjusted.

The first time we rejoined the pack, Ellie was already two months old. And that day the hike was all about Mama. I felt like I needed to get out, but it seemed like the universe did not agree with me. The baby was sound asleep. Her carrier was missing. The weather forecast said rain. Everything was not lining up, but I persevered, and we went and we hiked, and I felt so good after.

It was worth the effort.

Our second group hike was all about Baxter. I knew he would love being out with his friends, and after hearing the news about Missy, Ace and Beamer, I wanted to make the effort for my dog. I knew that Lindsay and Barbara were wanting one more stroke, one more walk—everything I still have with Bax. And this time the universe—or Missy, Beamer and Ace—were on our side. The baby woke up at the right time, her carrier was at hand, the sun was shining.

Baxter on a hike

Of course, it still took effort. I had to feed the baby in the parking lot before the hike, so that she wouldn’t get hungry partway through. I changed her diaper in the backseat of the car.

But hearing Baxter howl in greeting as his hike mates arrived, seeing him splash in the water and watching him run through the woods made the effort worthwhile.

And as we walked, I was thinking of Lindsay, Barbara, Ace, Beamer and Missy, and hoping we were honouring them.

Pets take effort. Life takes effort. It’s worth it.

Julia Thomson is a blogger at Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. She writes regularly for That Mutt.