Coda, back country ‘natural’.
When Emma Gregg went looking for a new four-legged friend a few years ago, she had no idea she’d found her perfect country companion.
Joda was just an eight-week-old border collie when she came into Gregg’s world.
Now seven years later, the two are inseparable as they travel the country, and Joda has become “the most amazing adventure dog” and, of course, a social media star.
For Gregg, his love of the outdoors began at a young age after growing up on the Kapiti Coast before settling in Manawatu.
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“As a child, I spent a lot of time walking with my horse and dog, but I was quite close to home, in the meadow and on the beach. I could see the Tararua Range from my house. I always wanted to know what was over that hill, and then the next one, and then the next one,” he said Stuff Travel.
“I’ve had a dog (or several) with me since I was about 10 years old, and most of the time I prefer to just walk with my dog. I love the bush on a good day like most, but I really, really love the wildness of the crazy wind in the Tararua Peaks, the smell of the bush in the rain and how different everything looks in the snow.
Gregg, who has been involved with NZ Dog Agility for most of his life, originally planned for Coda to be just an agility dog ”but he turned out to be the most amazing adventure dog”.
“Most dogs you can train to be companions, but some are naturally at home in the countryside. Coda is natural. She is amazingly talented at hairlines and continues to amaze me with her climbing and balancing skills. He is perfectly comfortable at altitude and is happy to cross wire swing bridges even in high winds.
The key is that the two work well together.
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“Our rapport and ability to communicate means he’s very effective at finding routes for me, especially off-road.
“He’s a joy to walk because he’s trained to stay on the track and he’s right in front of me, he never runs or litters, so he’s incredibly easy to walk with, he’s companionable with no expectations, he’s just happy to walk with me.”
Of course, in this year 2022, Coda is also a bit of a social media star. His adventures are cataloged on Instagram and he has a huge following.
“It’s quite common for people to recognize him, especially in the Tararua Ranges, he’s been in several tramping club trip reports and featured on other blogs, websites.
“I even had someone run into me walking along the Palmerston North Riverwalk to meet him. I’m not that popular!” Gregg laughed.
The duo is now joined by another frontier bubble Alpine. It is not as natural as Coda is in the desert, he “loves everything equally”.
Gregg is well aware that dogs must be supervised at all times in New Zealand’s unique landscape, but he urges his colleagues to try tramping and just follow the basics.
“Get really strong basic training and a great attitude before you go out. Also, make sure you go to a dog-friendly area.
“We have some amazingly unique land, with lots of native flora and fauna found nowhere else. It is your responsibility as an owner to protect your dog from the environment and the environment from your dog, this is only possible if you have solid basic training. Also, while you and I may love dogs, other people may not for various reasons, and that should be respected, and backcountry dogs should not annoy other people you may encounter.
“Build your fitness and skills together, don’t measure your adventures against someone else’s, it should be fun and it’s your own journey, it doesn’t matter how far or how long others go, you’re there, doing it in our great country, that’s all that matters.”