I love dogs (and cats. I’m adamantly both a dog and a cat person) and I work with them every day. Growing up my parents constantly adopted rescued dachshunds who had various scars and sad stories, but who turned into cuddle bugs and snuggle monsters. I worked in shelters consistantly after graduating college, as well as being a dog walker and a receptionist at a vet clinic. Yeah, I’ve seen some dogs.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that I lived with a dog who is- shall we say more a dog in the traditional sense of the word? I refer to her as Dog on social media, where she has been cropping up a lot lately, and she receives a fair amount of attention. Dog looks like a big black German Shepherd and she loves people, she loves adventure, and she loves exercise. My roommates say that Dog doesn’t sleep, she waits. Waits to play or run or explore. She just waits. Dog comes to work with me a couple of times a week, but on my days off I have started taking her out on hiking adventures. This is Colorado, after all, where both dogs and adventures are the lifestyle. Hiking with just a dog and no other human companions has taught me a thing or two.
1) You WILL become tired long before the dog and she WILL constantly look back at you with a disappointed look on her face. Bless Dog’s heart, she always waits for me…except for yesterday we we descended a trail on a mountain side that was coated with ice and snow. I ended up “surfing” part of the way down as Dog pulled and I clung to the leash, unwilling to let go.
2) No matter how sociable dogs are when in the dog park/doggie day care/a friend’s house/the neighborhood, etc meeting another dog on leash can be stressful. The dogs might be tired or on edge from the hike, or picking up on whatever it is you the leash-holder are struggling with. They don’t necessarily want to become friends with every other pup on the trail, so just greet the other hikers politely and move on.
3)I hope you packed dog-appropriate snacks! If you didn’t pack some specifically for Fido then at least did you bring some that are safe to share? I fully expected that half of my little Baybels cheese wheel would disappear into Dog’s maw and I’m okay with that. Of course, the car was also stocked with a variety of treats so Dog could have a little power snack to reboot after the hike.
4) Dogs don’t chatter and they don’t get bossy about which trails to hike. Well, maybe some dogs do…I enjoy hiking with friends too, but there is something wonderful about the peacefulness that comes from taking in a breathtaking view in silence with your canine by your side. Dog is very good natured and listens pretty well (my roommates trained her well) so no matter how exciting or dull the trail I pick it, she’s enthusiastic about it. That’s rare in a friend.
5) Don’t be a douche- bring plastic bags and throw away your dog’s waste! Do not just leave it hanging from trail signs. That is disgusting and lazy andhello! Part of bringing the dog means taking responsibility for them! Ugh, rant over, just pick up your dog’s poo please.
If you’re inspired to take your adorable canine for an adventure be sure to check if your intended destination allows dogs on the trail. The rules can be kind of convoluted (like that many state and national parks allow dogs in campsites and anywhere cars go, but not on hiking trails). Make sure you leash Fido too, because no matter how well behaved she is, there are bears and shit out there, so watch out.
Also, shout out to the Alt National Park Service for their bravery and dedication to science and truth. If you appreciate their work follow the link and show your support. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter as AltNationalParkService. Don’t forget Rogue NASA!