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Dog Talk

Spring is here, the Park is open, the wildflowers are emerging.  The weather has been on again off again rainy.  But I’m already planning my traditional August trip to the Wind Rivers, with hopefully some shorter backpacks to high country around here.  So when I began to get out my camping gear, I wasn’t surprised when suddenly my big dog started a conversation with me.  Usually he just whines, barks, grunts or groans.  But today he was speaking his mind.  Here’s the conversation.

Great, we’re going backpacking soon cause, you know, I’m working on writing a book.  Humans need real advice when it comes to camping with us canines.  The book?  Oh yes.  It’s called “Every Stream, Every Lake, Every Tarn, a Dogs’ Guide book to the Wind Rivers.

With my person

With my person

With a bit more quizzing, I got Koda to tell me about his pack loads.  Sheep Eater Indians who lived in the Wind River area in the summer used dogs to carry their goods.  I’ve been doing the same.

I’m happy with the canine pack you got me.  Please, no more than 25%-30% of my weight.  I’m 90 pounds so that translates to maximum 25 pounds I’m comfortable with.  I know you’ve been slipping some of your food and gear in with my food in the pack.  I don’t mind.  Makes me feel important.  But just remember–every tarn, every lake…and I’m in it!

I stopped carrying regular dog food quite a while back.  My previous dog, Soona, used to get sick of it by the 5th or 6th day, plus its really heavy.  Some backpacker told me that a bit of cat food is good for dogs as its high protein.  I switched to a lightweight vacuum-sealed food that’s a lot of oats with some dried meats.  Then in the mornings, Koda gets a wet cat food small can with treat or two.

The best part is the beef jerky.  And the cat food.  To change the subject back to water, if you’re going to be in a place where your paws are wet all day, make sure they get dried out good.  We dogs can get a fungal infection between our toes if the hair there doesn’t dry out well.  And for god’s sake, don’t jump in the lake right before dark. I made that mistake once and then it snowed all night and I never dried out.  I would have froze to death if my person didn’t throw that emergency blanket over me.

Watch the paws on this kind of stuff

Watch the paws on this kind of stuff

Because Koda goes into every bit of water with his pack on, this year I’m going to try putting the food in dry sacks, then inside his backpack.  Koda’s an outdoor dog, used to spending his time not on concrete.  But if you have a suburb or city dog, and you are off to the Rockies or Sierras, bring along some dog booties.  One year Soona’s feet got really cut up on talus and I had to give her continual doses of aspirin to get her off the mountain.

And if you take your dog with you backpacking, be sure he or she knows their manners.  Don’t let them run after wildlife, have them stay on the trail, and make sure they are friendly with other people and dogs.

And for goodness sake, remember to just have fun, fun, fun.  And if you need to, push your person over at night in the tent to get more room for yourself.

Canine heaven

Canine heaven