Do you take your dog along on your outdoor adventures?
When we started organizing gear in our living room for a bicycle camping trip recently, Zoey, our Cairn terrier, seemed to know something was up. She took guard at the front door, sitting there instead of relaxing in her bed. Alright Zoey, you can come along with us.
Deeming Zoey a little too unpredictable to ride in a bike basket, (you may remember that Toto was also a Cairn terrier and quite the basket escape artist), I soon found a Croozer dog trailer that a coworker was willing to loan me.
To help Zoey prep for the trip, we set up the trailer in our living room a couple of days before departure. We left dog treats inside, and soon she became very comfortable with it—we even found her hanging out in there long after each treat was gone. We took her on a couple of training rides, too, up and down the street in front of our house. With the addition of some dog food and bowls to our bags, Zoey was set to go.
Our trip into the San Juan Islands of Washington state started with a ferry ride. We rolled onto the car deck on our bikes, loaded with gear, towing our trailers. That's when we heard the first protest from Zoey. She let out a startling, ear-piercing yip that was magnified by the echo in the boat's heavy metal innards. Oh no!
Securing our bikes quickly while the cars loaded around us, we checked her out to find her happily wiggling and wagging her tail. She was fine, but the foreign rumbling sounds in the ferry must have been disconcerting.
One aspect of the ferry ride that we'd forgotten about is that dogs aren't allowed on the passenger deck—so we took turns waiting on the car deck with Zoey. It was chilly there, but luckily there was a makeshift seating area set up out of the wind—apparently for dog owners. The ferry-savvy regulars beat us to the chairs, but as luck would have it, standing at the rail provided a good viewing position when a pod of Orca whales happened to swim by and jump near the boat—a rare sight on the ferry route, and really awesome!
The bike ride from the ferry dock to the campground on Lopez Island was scenic: pastoral fields, deer, long-horned cattle, flitting goldfinch and peaceful quietness—that is, until Zoey started to whine. We soon discovered that riding in the trailer seemed to make her thirsty (or the whining did), so we stopped intermittently to give her water.
Once at our campsite, we all settled in. Zoey likes camping—as it seems most dogs do. Maybe it appeals to their pre-domesticated selves: the smells, the occasional rustling in the bushes, lying in the dirt.
Well, maybe not that last one—Zoey is a cush-seeking missile. Hopping into the tent and wriggling around in the fluffy down sleeping bags might have been a trip highlight for her. It was fun to have her with us in the tent.
The next 2 days went by quickly as we explored the campground, cycled the quiet island roads, hung out at the beaches, enjoyed the sounds of the local musicians and tasted the freshly made fudge at the farmers' market. Thanks to the dog trailer, as well as a dog-friendly community, we were able to take Zoey with us almost everywhere on the island. Her presence did prevent us from eating lunch in a restaurant, but we were content with ordering food to go and enjoying it at the beach.
The island was idyllic for bike riding, and bringing our furriest family member added to the challenge and the fun of our weekend trip. And we learned so much about "dog trailering." On our return trip for example (now counting ourselves among the ferry savvy) we looked quickly for the dog seating area on the car deck—and this time we snagged a chair. Sweet! Do we know how to bike travel with a dog or what?
Now it's your turn—what have you learned about traveling with your 4-legged friend?