In my last post, I listed the top 5 reasons to leave your dog at home when you head out for a backpacking trip. This week, I play my own devil’s advocate and discuss the top 5 reasons to bring Fido along.
(Wo)man’s best friend. Many dogs accompany people on their backpacking trips and they are, frankly, much better at it than we are! Those four, strong legs, agile bodies, natural athleticism, supreme balancing skills….I’m always jealous of my dog’s endless energy and always-sunny disposition. Bringing him along when I backpack always brings me much joy, especially when I’m alone.
As long as you always put your dog’s needs first, have prepared him for the rigors of your chosen trip and have complete control over him from a training standpoint, bringing your pooch on your trip can really be an amazing experience, for both of you.
Without further ado, here are my Top 5 Reasons to Bring Your Dog Backpacking (in no particular order):
- Dogs make the BEST backpacking partners! OK, so your dog can’t help you plan your trip or set up a tent, but he is guaranteed to enjoy every second of it and never complain! He won’t bitch about the trail you chose. He won’t force you to carry on a conversation when you don’t want to. He provides someone to talk to (at) when you do feel like talking. And best of all, he will happily keep your warm at night without it being…awkward.
- Dogs help you feel protected and secure. Backpacking alone can be a tad intimidating, especially at first. Fear is a common emotion when out alone, especially at night when your imagination can get the best of you. But fear no more when Fido is there! Perhaps it’s not realistic, but having a dog with you makes you feel like no one and nothing will mess with you, and nothing bad can happen to you.
- Having a dog combats loneliness. When I hike alone, I rarely feel afraid, but I DO feel lonely sometimes. Especially during meal breaks and at the end of the day, as the sun begins to set and I am relaxing. I love having Furley with me so I can chit-chat with him. Dogs are great cuddlers and companions. Furley and I eat our meals together, relax by the river together and watch the birds together. I talk to him, and he listens! Lastly, Furley helps me meet other backpackers if I want company, because he is so damn good looking and personable.
- Dogs provide natural encouragement. Struggling to make it up the final incline of the day? Look up ahead and check out Fluffy! She is still cruising happily and keeps looking back, seemingly encouragingly, to make sure you are on your way. Dogs provide natural encouragement just by being so athletic and so damn joyful all the time! It’s tough to feel discouraged when you’ve got a Fluffy happily licking your face!
- Dogs remind us of the simple joys of backpacking. They stop to sniff the flowers (literally). They are exuberant about every single body of water you come across. They stare in awe at the bald eagle (or blue jay) soaring overhead. They help us to slow down and savor the moments. It’s also simply wonderful to watch the very real happiness our best buddies feel when they are out, unencumbered, in the natural world. They clearly enjoy backpacking even more than we do! And that’s pretty intoxicating.
Backpacking with your dog can truly deepen your bond while building some serious trust and enhanced loyalty. Having a dog around always seems to make everything more fun, and they obviously enjoy it. Just be sure you read my previous post before you embark on a trip with your dog so that you are at least aware of the potential cons! Do your research, be safe, be prepared and ALWAYS put your dog’s needs first.
Next Up: The Women’s Edition – Getting Past Fears and Misconceptions
“We are two travelers, Roger and I. Roger’s my dog—come here, you scamp! Jump for the gentleman—mind your eye! Over the table—look out for the lamp! The rogue is growing a little old; Five years we’ve tramped through wind and weather, And slept out-doors when nights were cold, and ate and drank and starved together.“ – John T. Trowbridge, The Vagabonds