If I am feeling beaten down by the world, I turn to Instagram for fleeting comfort. Specifically, I look to dog influencers, because like many adults and most children, puppies make me feel better. I particularly love West Highland White Terriers (as does Hollywood these days) and the pleasant Scandinavians who run their accounts. On one self-deprecating Sunday in February, I found myself searching through Westie hashtags and found my new favorite account: Bajas the Westie, a “Mountain Adventure Dog.”
According to Bajas’s bio, he is a westie “discovering Norway” with his “buddy” and owner Jørgen Øyehaug. All of Bajas’s images are taken atop gorgeous mountains in Europe, which the tiny dog appears, impossibly, to climb before posing in the brisk air for a quick, relaxing video. Bajas’s beautiful shots are a powerful distraction, in part because of their unfathomable construction. There are plenty of dog breeds built for hiking, some even with “mountain” in their name (a “Bernese Mountain Dog” might be an obvious choice)—and yet, it’s Bajas who climbs to heights that would terrify most humans.
Westies never appear on lists about dog breeds that make good hiking partners: that title is reserved for taller selections, like the strong Siberian Husky, or smart Australian Shepherd, or keen German Shorthaired Pointer. Historically, terriers value their independence and don’t love obedience. Westies, in particular, are smart but fancy, often sporting a fur skirt to hide their abdomen. They are not ferocious beasts. And yet, here is little Bajas, challenging stereotypes and summiting admirable heights. There should be a children’s movie about him.
After a few weeks of obsessing, I needed to know: How does Øyehaug get that little dog to the top of those mountains? Surely a dog breed with notoriously short legs couldn’t walk his way up the Troll Wall in the Romsdal Alps?
To get answers, I sent Øyehaug a few questions over email. He responded eight weeks later, presumably because he was busy conquering new peaks with his courageous canine. His answers are below.
How old is Bajas the Westie?
1.5 years old.
When did you get him? Where was he born?
I got him Jan. 2019. He was born Nov. 2018.
When did you start taking him on mountain adventures? How long have you been doing this?
From March 2019. So about 1 year.
How many adventures have you been on with Bajas?
Around 100 maybe.
Does Bajas walk up the mountain, too, or do you carry him most of the way?
He walks the most of the way himself. Often all the way.
How did you train him to be so brave? He walks right up to the edge of a mountain!
I don’t train him for that. It is always safe for him.
Do you think westies are brave dogs?
Was there ever a scary or dangerous moment when you hiked with Bajas?
I’m always keeping him safe, so no.
What has been your favorite adventure with Bajas?
Lofoten last summer.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take their dog on camping and hiking trips?
Bring enough water and food. And if it’s cold they need clothes.