Perla and Avery have been hiking most of the cocker spaniel's life and they both enjoy it. Wednesday the pair will be heading to South Carolina to hike through the lower Appalachian Mountains on the Foothills Trail. They will begin their trip at Table Rock State Park in South Carolina and end it at Oconee State Park in South Carolina. The 11-day, 76-mile trip will also take them through parts of North Carolina.

Perla, a technician for the USDA at the Coastal Plains Experiment Station, has been taking the 10-year old Avery on hiking trips for many years.

"This will be his second long trip and he's been on several day trips," said Perla.

Perla always takes Avery with him on his hiking trips and said that he enjoys the trips because he can spend time with his dog and also see parts of nature you cannot see anywhere else.

"I just enjoy it," he said. "You get to see stuff you'll never see any other way. It's just a different world than you can see any other way."

For his part, Avery seems to enjoy the trips as much as his owner. Perla's wife, Shannon Perla, said that Avery is adventurous.

"He likes to run and swim," she said. "He's an extreme athlete. He doesn't know he's a dog."

While Ron Perla carries a 40 to 50-pound pack of equipment on his back for the trips, Avery isn't without his own burden. The little cocker spaniel has to carry twin packs that lie over his back like a saddle. The packs are filled with food and show that the hiking saying of "Everyone has to carry their own food," applies to canines as well.

Avery knows when the pack is on, it is time to hit the trail.

"He gets excited when I get his gear out, get his pack out," Trevor Perla said. "He's ready to go."

He said that Avery is tireless.

"He won't stop 'til he drops," he said. "He's the first one in the tent when we get there and the first one out in the morning."

Perla and Avery's trips have left the man with some humorous memories of the dog.

On a trip to Pine Mountain, Perla and Avery ran into a large storm. Perla could not find his dog, so he went looking for him. In the end, Avery was inside the tent already. He had slipped in underneath the nearly completely zipped tent door.

Another time, during a trip to Providence Canyon, the conditions were wet and the red clay was muddy. Avery went off exploring and came back caked in red mud.

"He looked like a pumpkin, all that clay," said Perla.

During another trip, the pair were sleeping in a tent and bears came up scratching on the side. Avery usually barks at potential intruders, but this time he froze like a statue.

"He knew that thing was bigger than he was," Perla said. "He didn't move until it went away."

Another time, Avery's pack of food stuck him between a rock and a hard place.

"He forgets he has his pack on sometimes," said Perla. "One time, he got stuck between two rocks."

The most amazing things to Avery's owners is his energy at his age. The Perlas purchased the American Kennel Club-registered cocker spaniel when he was 4 weeks old, right after they got married 10 years ago. Ten years old makes Avery practically a doggy Methuselah.

"He's pretty active for an old man," said Shannon Perla. "He's been vet-approved to go."

Shannon Perla loves the dog too, although she does not usually go on the long hiking trips.

"If they go together, I usually stay home," she said. "I cannot be gone that long right now and they'll enjoy the time together. They'll appreciate me more when they get home."

She worked as a certified dog groomer for three years, using Avery as her test subject. She has since left the business and is now office administrator for Kincaid Insurance, but she still uses her grooming skills to trim up Avery. His hair can grow quite long, which she says is beautiful, but not ideal for long hikes through the brush.

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