The Piedmont Virginian Road Trip: the Camping Issue

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Finally, your best friend can come along From travel trailers to pup tents, camping with your dog can be fun and rewarding! BY ED FELKER



| AUTUMN 2020


veryone who has a dog will eventually plan something and ponder, “Should we take him?” Even a simple outing by car to a nearby park requires planning, from vehicle safety to determining the basics to bring along for your four-legged pal. Make it an overnight trip even to the most dog-friendly hotel and considerations grow exponentially – food, sleeping arrangements, what to do with him if the humans go out to dinner – all need to be sorted out ahead of time. There are unknowns too, of course. A dog new to hotels may find it difficult to understand all the activity in the “house” they’re staying in. A busy hotel with doors opening and closing and people talking in the hallway can turn a relaxing getaway into a fitful night for all. “The addition of the family dog can add a new and fun element to camping so long as proper preparation occurs,” says Kelly Connoley-Phillips, long-time outdoor enthusiast, camper and dog mama. “Make sure you have all the things that your pet is used to having at home.” This includes food measured out for the duration of your camp plus extra, plenty of fresh water, bowls, leash, cleanup tools for waste, treats, towels, and toys. It’s

also a good idea to test out sleeping arrangements ahead of time, making sure your dog finds a tent, travel trailer, or sleeping bag as much fun as you do. Just because a campground is in the woods or at a park doesn’t mean there aren’t rules, of course. Animal trainer Charlotte Wagner Harvey offers some logistical considerations. “First, make sure the camp sites are dog-friendly,” she says. “In national parks, some protective wildlife areas allow human foot traffic but don’t permit dogs.” It’s every dog owners’ responsibility to know where their dog is allowed, and the great outdoors is no exception. Some campgrounds may have breed restrictions as well, so check before you book. When environmental educator and animal trainer Liz Thompson takes her Golden Retriever, General Lee, camping, she makes safety her top priority. “Most campsites require dogs to be on a leash at all times and many parks have restrictions regarding which trails dogs can go on,” she said. “These rules are in place for the safety of the dog, liability mitigation for the park or campground, and protection of wildlife and the environment.” But when camping on private property, as she did the first time she took along General, as he is called, she knew an absence of leash rules didn’t mean a free-for-all. “General already had great leash manners, and I knew it would be more Above: Finn, a pleasant for both of us if he could be offWirehaired Vizsla leash as much as possible,” Liz said. But owned by Ed Felker, poses by even well trained dogs have room for some the campfire. tune up. “In the month or so leading up

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