Happy trails and happy tails

By Becky Bell

Lizzy Heatherington and her best friend haven’t climbed Pinnacle Mountain once–they have done it 30 times. And when they go, they do not take the easy side. They enjoy the challenging side where it is most difficult to reach the top.

Heatherington said her friend is a better hiker than her though, and it might be because he has two more legs than she does. That’s because her best friend is a 4-year-old long-haired Dachshund named Cedric Boomer Diggory. Heatherington, 35, said she got the dog, known as Boomer, because she has always liked to hike and wanted a buddy to hike across Arkansas with her.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

But with her living space in a downtown apartment in Little Rock, the size of the dog she would select mattered. She did her research on the popular dog and decided this was the breed for her.

“I wanted a little dog who was going to be happy in the city,” she said. “And Dachshunds are super good hikers, even though they are low to the ground. I think they were bred to catch vermin and stuff and move through crevices.”

As soon as the vet gave her the go-ahead, Heatherington introduced Boomer to Pinnacle Mountain at its base trail and he’s been a hiker since. He was 6 months old for that first hike.

Heatherington said there are 52 state parks in Arkansas, and she and her short-legged friend have been trying to go to all of them. Some of their favorite hikes so far are Rattlesnake Ridge Natural Area, just west of Pinnacle State Park; Petit Jean State Park in Conway County; Lake Catherine State Park, located several miles outside Hot Springs; and Mount Nebo, located near Dardanelle. 

She takes photos of Boomer on their adventures and posts them on Instagram. Boomer has his own handle, @hotdiggorydog. But that’s not all this famous wiener dog with lovely long locks has going for him. Because he was made famous for visiting scenic places in the Natural State, the Arkansas State Board of Tourism named him an ambassador.

“In June of last year, he was named an Arkansas Ambassador. It’s mostly for people,” Heatherington said. “He’s the only dog for this year, I think. He is both a Dog Ambassador and a Hiking Ambassador.” Find him on Instagram with the handle hotdiggorydog.

It’s obvious that Boomer has made an impact on his owner’s heart, and it might surprise you that he is her first dog. “Oh, my goodness. He is, like, very playful but very cuddly. He is very, very protective of me. He thinks he should have been a watchdog in another life,” she said.

Downtown Little Rock

Beyond his walks around downtown Little Rock and his hikes on trails and mountains, Boomer also has time to get a brain workout, too. Heatherington said the dog trainer she hired for him has suggested mental stimulation for him, as most people lean to more physical stimulation and forget a pet’s brains need a workout, too.

“He is very smart, and I’ve recently been doing enrichment activities with him. He does puzzles, he does scavenger hunts for treats. In one of the puzzles, he uses his nose to open little doors for treats. You can get these things on Amazon and Chewy.”

The native upstate New Yorker said her dog has helped her build a rich community in Little Rock at the patio restaurants and any other place she and Boomer walk together. She thinks the mental stimulation is good for her best friend. “I think it helps him focus and makes him feel more stimulated and more connected to you. What is true about him is that he will never leave my side. That’s his preference because that is the bond he feels because that is the time we spend together,” she said.

Boomer is just a doggo exploring the world and he’s never as happy as on a hike. If you are in Central Arkansas hiking, you just might get to see him, or you can always follow him on Instagram.