What is it about the mountains that makes them so mysterious? Have you ever wondered why so many horror stories are set in the mountains? Or why the silence of a hilltop makes you want to slow down and self-reflect? The mysteries are endless.
But there is one specific enigma that encounters almost all visitors, especially trekkers, to the Himalayan hill stations. If you have trekked through the steep paths of the Parvati Valley, Kasol, Manali and more such places, you would have often found yourself in the company of a few furry wanderers.
These are mostly local breeds of mountain sheep dogs that are not cosmetically pleasing enough to be domesticated by town people or adopted by visitors. These are the ones that wander away from the townships, into the wild with either tourists or locals on their chores. They are a complementary amenity with any trekking package you book in the Himalayas!
If you are one of those 'do-it-yourself' trekkers who prefer exploring the hills on your own, without guides, these dogs are your saviours. And they will seek you out. Being sheep dogs by nature, they can sense their flock. The lost ones, especially. So if you find yourself off the track and the dusk is drawing close, trust these sniffers to find you and howl their way to the destination.
There have been multiple accounts of mountain dogs saving the day for lost climbers and trekkers, Whether it is a snow-laden path or a rocky terrain, these dogs are almost magically accustomed to the routes. They are fiercely protective by nature and will signal any danger headed your way. They can sense wild animals from distance and will let you know in time to save yourselves. Some of these dogs will even put up with you near your tent till you head back to base camp. Everyone can use some warm cuddles in the chilly mountains, right?
The reason for the magical appearances of these 'ghost' dogs is unknown but it can owe to the fact that dogs being companion-oriented animals, often follow the few humans they see in their territory and tag along for as long as they are there.
However, their presence can be a menace for some. If you trek past the alpine ranges, near the shepherd settlements, your furry accomplice will not be welcomed. The shepherds will tell you why. Being far from their territory, their hunger will turn them into hunters and their target of choice would be – a bit ironic to their name – the domestic sheep! Once shooed away, they will most definitely find their way back to the next trotter, or at least that is how we would like to keep their mystery alive.