Hiking Essentials

Running Adventure Pup means I spend a lot of time on the trail with my pups! We hike up mountains, through forests, across deserts, and around water. We’re outside in the heat, in the rain, and in the snow. Over the years we have experimented with a lot of tools and have found some we love and others we could do without. Below is a list of the tools we can’t live without! I have added some link to specific brands, but you’’ll be most successful if you find things that work specifically for you and your pups needs. Keep in mind their breed, build, limitations, and personality. Think about how the two of you interact with each other and the natural environment. 

Collars, Harnesses, & Leashes

It’s always smart to keep a collar with an ID tag & licenses attached when you are outdoors with your pup. Anything can happen when you’re on on the trail, keeping up to date contact info on your pup will help keep them safe if they get away from you. I prefer dog tags that jingle so I can hear my pup wherever they are, but if the noise bothers you, you can get a tag that slides onto the collar and lays flat. Or you could get a collar with your number stitched right in. It’s always smart to keep your pup’s license and rabies tag on them as well, to avoid any tickets or fines.

When on the trail I prefer that Link wear a comfortable harness. It’s not only more gentle on his body than a collar while on leash, it also offers more control and is a safer option when an emergency occurs. If your pup slips down a hill, or gets stuck in the river, a harness offers a handle for you to help them out, rather than just tugging on their neck. I like a harness that offers even distribution across the body. Something with a wider chest and back plate are a little more comfortable than a simple nylon strap harness. I prefer a harness with a front and back clip for more versatility and control.

I also like to carry two different leashes, a five foot leash and a longer leash. The length of the longer leash depends on the trail. If there are a lot of trees and bushes to get tangled in, I will use a 10 foot lead. But if the trail is wide open I will use a leash as long at 30 feet. A long leash gives your pup more room to roam and sniff, and helps avoid pulling. 

Hiking Packs

I think hiking packs are the item I have gone through the most. So many uncomfortable and impractical option out there, it’s been a difficult journey to find what works. 

I’m going to be real, most backpacks and fanny packs have been created for a man’s body. They sit uncomfortably on a women’s shoulders and hips. I have chronic back pain from ill-fitting packs. If you try to look for women’s hiking packs, you’ll come up with a lot of pinks and purples, but no difference in structure. It’s important to find a pack that properly fits your unique body shape, and having more than one option will help alleviate fatigue. I like fanny packs that you can wear around various parts of the abdomen and hips so I can shift it around when my body needs a break. I also like fanny packs that I can carry as a shoulder bag when I need to shift the weight. I prefer a backpack that has across the chest straps to keep the weight evenly distributed across my shoulders. I also like one that has a lot of room for adjustment, one that you can wear up on your middle back or down on your lower back. 

Other than a proper fit, it’s important to have room for all your trail needs. You’ll need your regular human things; wallet, phone, keys, etc. You’ll also need room for water, a first aid kit, any emergency supplies, treats/snacks, dog supplies, and any extra gear you like to bring along. 

You can also get a pack for your pup to carry. If they aren’t used to carrying weight, start them off with an empty pack and slowly add weight as they get used to it. Make sure the pack fits them so it’s snug enough that it doesn’t slide all over when they walk, but not too tight to rub and chafe. You’ll also want to pay attention to where your leash attaches to the backpack to make sure it works with you and your pup’s walking habits. It’s always a good option to try on different packs before you settle on one. 

Hiking Pack by Wilderdog

Clothing & Shoes

Clothing depends on the weather and environment. If it’s hot out you’ll want to consider some practical shorts and a top, but if you’re in an area with snakes, ticks, or poisonous plants you’ll want to either wear pants or high socks to protect your legs. If it’s cold or wet out, consider wearing a base layer under your clothes to keep you warm and dry. An extra pair of socks is always recommended in case your feet get wet, and bringing a light jacket can come in handy in a variety of situations. A hat and sunglasses will keep the sun, rain, and slow out of your eyes. If you get a hat with a neck flap you’ll be protected from the weather and the bugs. A bandana or neck wrap can also help with this, and soaking one in water will keep you and your pup cool on hot days

Shoes always depends on who’s wearing them. I have gone through a lot of hiking shoes. Boots, runners, sandals, you name it. I appreciate a shoe that supports my ankles and protects my toes, since I am never walking on even ground. I do not like mesh fabric or stretchy spandex material, as it deteriorates very quickly. I have also found that elastic shoelaces break after just a few outings, so I always replace them with heavy duty boot laces. I have a pair of hiking sneakers, a pair of water sandals, and two pairs of hiking boots; one that goes over the ankle and one that goes below. I like to have a few options for every season so I can switch footwear and avoid blisters and discomfort.  

Left to Right: Oboz Hiking Boots, Keen Hiking Waterproof Sandals, Solomon Hiking Sneakers

Clothing always depends on the wearer. I like a loose-fitting shirt with a comfortable neckline. I’ll bring a flannel, sweater, or jacket along in case the weather calls for it. Long sleeves protect against sun, rain, snow, wind, bugs and tall bushes. The same with pants; something loose-fitting that protects against the elements. If it’s hot out, I like shorts with high socks. I am a big fan of pockets. Even though I always carry a hiking pack, I like to have easy access to certain items, so pockets are a must. 

Bright colors or reflective gear will ensure others can you see, and will keep you extra safe during hunting seasons. This goes for your pup too.

Food & Water

Water is a must, but I am also a big fan of carrying snacks along, for both me and my pup. Be sure to bring more than enough water for you and your pup to have throughout your outing. You’ll want to have extra, in case of an emergency. Water is necessary for hydration, but it also comes in handy when it comes to flushing out wounds or irritated eyes. I like to carry a water bottle for myself and one for my pup. I also like to keep a whole lotta backup water in the car. Be sure to get a hiking pack that allows you to carry enough water. You could get something with a water bladder and add as many extra water bottles as you need.

3 Pups Enjoying a Gulpy

Snacks are up to you, but be sure to bring something for both you and your pup to enjoy! I like bringing high-value treats along on a hike, like cheese/chicken/hotdogs. High-value treats help me keep my pup’s attention and I don’t have to compete against chipmunks, deer, smells, etc. My favorite human treat to bring along is a snack bar that doesn’t melt or freeze, and a small piece of fruit like an apple or nectarine. If I’m on a long hike I like to bring along a freeze-dried snack to provide me with more energy. 

Emergency Tools

You should always have an emergency first-aid kit on you while on a hike. There are a lot of options out there, but I recommend getting a kit that has supplies for both you and your pup. You can get a kit and add anything you need, and you can adjust your supplies depending on your outing. The further you are from your car, the more supplies you should bring along. Bandages are one of the most used items in an emergency situation, so make sure you have plenty of gauze and vet wrap.

An emergency lift is a great way to get peace of mind when you’re on a long hike. If you travel far from the car and your pup gets injured, you’ll have to carry them back to the trailhead. With an emergency lift you’ll be able to hoist a dog of any size onto your back and carry them back down the trail. 

A good whistle will come in handy in an emergency. It will help your pup find you if they’ve ventured off the trail, and it can help others find you if you get hurt and can’t continue your hike. I like a whistle that can give off a variety of pitches. Keep in mind that three sharp, high-pitched blows on a whistle indicates that you are in an emergency situation and need help. 

I recommend carrying along an animal deterrent spray on every outing, no matter how long or short. I would steer clear of bear spray (unless you’re in an area with bears) because if you accidentally spray yourself or your pup you’ll be in a whole other emergency. A simple citronella spray will deter most other animals. An air horn works better, but it will effect both you and your pup’s ears so be aware. It could frighten your pup off and if they aren’t leashed you could lose them. A citronella spray will keep other dogs away from you, as well as some wild animals. If you want to make a loud noise, I recommend using your voice. 

MountainSmith Hiking Pack
(complete with all previously mentioned gear)

The most important thing to keep in mind in case of an emergency is where your closest vet clinic is. Whenever you go on a hike, do a quick Google search to see where the closest clinic is to the trail. Be sure that they are open during the hours of your hike. Covid has greatly changed the hours of vet clinics, and a lot of clinics are not open during their normal hours. Jot down their phone number so you don’t have to worry about stumbling around the internet on your phone while on the trail in an emergency situation. It’ll save you a lot of grief in an already very stressful situation. 

The gear you carry is completely up to you. I like to be prepared, and prefer having too much gear to not having the necessary gear. Whenever you go out without an item, you’ll most likely find that you need it so it’s always best to bring all the essentials. I always recommend testing out new gear on short neighborhood walks before you take them out on the trail. That way you’ll know what works for you and what doesn’t. There are a lot of hiking companies out there, both for humans and dogs, so you’ll have endless options to chose from. Getting recommendations from friends and dog care professionals is a better option than getting them from social media or Google. Thrift stores are great places to find used gear that you can test out for less money. You can find brands and styles that work for you under a budget, and then you can spring for brand new items once you know what you like. 

Cheatgrass & All its Evil

Weeds are plants that people find undesirable in a particular location. Cheatgrass is a weed I find undesirable in any location! It’s invasive, grows like bamboo, spreads fires, and can injure you and your pets!

Cheatgrass Seeds

Cheatgrass was brought to North America by European settlers. It’s now found in almost every state, covering about 70 million acres of land, but is most prevalent in the Great Basin areas like Oregon. And although it hasn’t gone away over the last two unseasonably warm years, it normally grows at the beginning of spring and dies away in the winter.

Cheatgrass takes resources away from native plants, aids in the rapid spread of fires, and reeks havoc on wildlife. Why should you care about any of this? Because Cheatgrass can get into your pets systems and literally rip them apart from the inside out! It grows among regular grass, and can easily be ingested by your pup or cat. The seeds are small and lightweight, so if an animal rubs against them ever so slightly, it could send seeds into their eyes, ears, and respiratory systems. Seeds scattered on the ground can get trapped in paw pads and work their way between toes. If left unnoticed, these seeds will twist, spin, and wiggle their way further into an animal, resulting in open sores, infections, organ damage, and even death.

What can you do to avoid this? Keep your yard free of Cheat to limit exposure. Keep your pup on leash when in areas with high levels of Cheatgrass. Keep cats indoors if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of Cheat. Perfect recall and the “leave it” cue to keep them from munching on this horrible weed. Keep coats short, and keep fur between toes even shorter. Check your pet over after every outing, and then recheck them again several hours later. Having another set of eyes is always helpful.

Cheatgrass

I recommend checking over every inch of your pet, especially if they have long, thick, or curly coats. Doodles are the ultimate prey to Cheat. Get a good Furminator that works well in your pets coat, and then check their ears, eyes, nose, mouth (including back of throat), under the collar/harness, between toes, within the paw pad, and near genitals. Keeping coats short will help keep the Cheat off, and wearing boots and goggles will help keep the eyes and feet clean. If you see any Cheatgrass on your pet that you cannot remove, call your vet immediately. I know a lot of people reading this will be like, “A seed?! Yea right, big deal!” But after spending at least $800 on an emergency Cheatgrass removal you will definitely be singing a different tune.

Cheatgrass loves hot, dry environments, so going into the shady, wet woods is always a less risky option when it comes to Cheat. Keep an eye out for Cheatgrass and call your pup away from it before they get in too deep, and keep them on leash in areas where it’s unavoidable. Become familiar with this evil weed, and take note when you find areas without it.

Hot Weather is Here!

It’s suddenly so hot out! Phew! So here are some tips on how to stay safe & cool…

Safety

  • Always have fresh water with you to offer your pup. A to-go bottle and a collapsible water bowl are always a good idea, or you could get a bottle with a bowl attached– super posh!
  • Check the surfaces you are walking on. Put the back of your hand to the ground and leave it there for five seconds. Grass is the coolest surface, and shade is always welcome!
  • Watch your pup for overheating or signs of labored breathing. Offer them shade and cool water. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.
  • Never leave your pup in the car on hot days. Shade with the windows down is nice for a few minutes, but even that can get over 100 on a hot day. I love this video Grounds & Hounds did on how miserable & dangerous being in a hot car is!
PetPlan Insurance car temperature chart

Water Fun

Link enjoying a Chuck-it Bumper
  • Swimming is obviously a fun water activity, but not every pup enjoys the water. Using toys in the shallows will get them comfortable around water and getting their paw pads into cool water will help them cool down. Kiddie pools are great for those that don’t want to swim!
  • Sprinklers and misters are fun ways to cool down if your dog is willing. A mister is a little easier to get acquainted with, sprinklers might take some positive reinforcement and some water play on your part!
  • Toys that you can fill and freeze are refreshing for hot days, and having some on hand will save you when it’s too hot to go outside for enrichment!

Stay Cool Inside & Out

  • Have your pup wear a wet bandana, shirt, or cooling vest to keep them cool on walks. Shirts and vest also help those who get sunburned!
  • Get a cooling mat they can lay on. It might take some conditioning to get your pup used to laying on the mat, but once they do it’ll keep them cool!
  • Keep up on grooming and be sure to brush out those hot undercoats. Remember, not every dog’s coat is meant to be shaved, so consult a professional if you want to take off some of that fluff. Weekly brushings are usually enough to keep the extra weight off!
  • Have fun mixing up some frozen treats for your pup! You blend up any of their favorite fruits, veggies, or proteins and pour into an ice cube tray to make some pupsicles!
Link on his cooling mat

Wildlife Education: Larger Mammals

Spring is around the corner, which means life is going to start blooming! Insects will begin stirring, rabbits will multiply, deer will migrate, and everyone is going to be rising from their dwellings to enjoy all the sunshine has to offer! Stay alert and make sure not to miss any of the emerging beauty or dangers. Here are some larger animals that tend to wander in the spring months.

Coyotes- Coyotes are common to see nearly everywhere in Central Oregon. They are around the size of a medium-sized dog and are often gray or brown in color. They do not seek confrontation and will normally run away when they see you, but if they have a litter nearby they will stand their ground. If you see one and it doesn’t automatically run from you, make a lot of noise to scare them off and get the attention of your pup, put your pup on leash and walk the opposite direction. They normally travel in packs, so if you enter their territory and they confront you, it’s safest to just leave.

AP Stock Photo of a Coyote

Wolves- Wolves are larger than coyotes, and usually larger than the largest dogs. Wolves are seen throughout Oregon but it is uncommon to run into them on the trail. If you see a wolf on the trail it is safe to assume it will attack you so make yourself big and back away slowly. Do not run, and do not make any sudden movements. Hopefully you notice them from a distance and can get your dog back to you and back to safety.

Stock Photo of a Grey Wolf

Cougars- Cougars are one of the largest cats in the western Hemisphere. They are a reddish-brown color and have powerful teeth and jaws. They have been spotted all over Central Oregon and have been known to attack humans and pets. Cougars usually roam in search of food, and unfortunately your dog is a perfect meal. If you see one on the trail, put yourself between your dog and the cougar, make yourself big, wave your arms, keep eye contact, and back away slowly while speaking in a firm tone.

Stock Photo of a Cougar

Deer- There are several species of deer in Oregon, the Mule Deer and Black-Tailed Deer are the most common. Deer will do their best to stay as far away from you and your pup as possible, but we do sometimes sneak up on them, and they will defend themselves if threatened. Dogs have been known to chase deer, and the deers respond by kicking with their rear hooves or rearing up and boxing, using their front legs to keep danger away. Male deer will also use their antlers as defense. Deer are more than capable of skinning a dog, breaking their bones, and sometimes killing them. If you see deer, make a lot of noise to warn them that you are near and to get your pup’s attention on you. Leash them up until the and move away from the deer. Their scent will linger so don’t unleash your dog too soon.

Stock Photo of Mule Deer

Elk- Elk are found throughout Oregon. They are larger than deer, less common to run into, and more dangerous. They have large, powerful bodies and males have long, pointed antlers. They will defend themselves if they feel threatened. If you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.

Stock Photo of an Elk

Moose- Moose are even more rare to run into in Oregon. They are huge, around 6” tall and can weigh up to 1500 lbs. Their antlers are used as threat displays, but can kill a human or pup. Again, if you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.

Stock Photo of a Moose

We share the trails with a lot of other living creatures, so be cautious and courteous. Make sure your pup is fluent in the important cues such as recall, and leave it. It’s important that your pup know to remain close to you and focused on you in dangerous situations. If they haven’t learned these cues, or haven’t built a reliable recall, keep them on leash when you’re out on the trail. A 20ft lead will ensure they are able to sniff and explore, and it will keep them close when things get too wild.

Winter Weather Wear

Brumby sportin’ a Ruffwear Utility Jacket

It was raining most of the day today and it got me thinking… I love me a pup in a sweater! A pittie in a hoodie? Be still my heart! A poodle in a raincoat? Swoon! I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of my favorite dog coats, jackets, and sweaters!

For those with short hair, less body mass, or trouble staying warm, a sweater is always a super helpful (and cute!) option. I like a good base layer option like the one Gold Paw makes. It’s light enough that it can go under a coat or jacket, but made of warm fleece so it’s cozy. My fluffy chow mix wears one in the winter to keep him dry on snowy walks. For something a little more tailored and sturdy, check out Kurgo’s core sweater. This sweater is warm and cozy, and can handle more intense cold. It’s also thin enough that it can fit under a coat. Wilderdog makes a little heavier option that’s great for winter hiking and camping. It’s made of a quick-drying fleece and is thick enough to keep your pup nice and warm, and thin enough to fit under a harness. It also has a turtle-neck style neck, so it’s great for longer necked breeds.

Raincoats are great to keep your pup dry. They’re great for both short and long hair pups on rainy or snowy days. I like the utility jacket from Ruffwear. It’s super light-weight, fleece lined, and well built to withstand the elements. Hurtta makes a parka that is designed specifically with short haired dogs in mind. (These coats are amazing for whippets & greyhounds!) It is meant to keep your pup dry and and warm. It can also be used for those with longer coats in colder conditions.

When it gets really cold out, even longer coated pups might want a jacket. Ruffwear makes a puffy coat for colder weather. It’s insulated and waterproof, and great for winter adventures. It has full belly coverage and small sleeves. For a slightly different style, check out Kurgo’s loft jacket. It’s warm and lightweight, with open arm holes. Carhartt makes the most durable coat I have yet to encounter. It’s made with the same quality as their human coats. It’s thick, warm, and made for the outdoors.

When looking for any dog clothing, keep in mind your pup’s body shape and size, as well as their coat length. One coat wouldn’t fit or look the same on a corgi as it would a husky, a chihuahua, or a ridgeback. Some coats have wide arm cutouts, while others have short sleeves. Make sure your pup can move freely and comfortably in their gear. And be sure to check the body once the garment is removed for any rubbing or rash. You want to be sure your pup is appropriately dressed for their body temp. A short hair dog would benefit from insulated, or fleece lined clothing, but dogs with undercoats don’t usually need the added warmth. Sighthounds such as whippets and greyhounds are often seen wearing full body suits like the ones Hurtta makes. That’s because these breeds are especially susceptible to cold, and often wearing these outfits are the only ways they can successfully be outside in the winter months. On the other side of the spectrum, dogs with longer coats don’t actually need to wear coats or jackets, but humans like the look of them and the fact that they keep the coat dry. Large breeds like Pyrenees, St Bernards, and Newfoundlands should not wear coats. These dogs are literally made for living outdoors in cold weather. Putting a coat on them would just insulate their body temperature and cause them to overheat. That’s probably why you won’t easily find coats in their size in pet stores.

There are a lot of options out there. The best thing to do is have your pup try them on before buying them, or getting them from a company that has easy returns. Just like humans, every pup is different. And just like humans, it’s nice to have a few for different occasions.

Riggs on the left is wearing a Gold Paw sweater, Red & Leo on the right wearing a Ruffwear Powder Hound Jacket (River does not need a jacket)

Wildlife Education: Small Stature, Big Punch

There are a whole lotta critters out there! And you might encounter one or two while on a hike with your pup! It’s always a good idea to have some basic knowledge of who you might meet on the trail, and who you should avoid. Let’s explore some of the smaller animals found around Central Oregon.

Small Mammals- Chipmunks, squirrels, moles, voles, gophers, and marmots are all very fun things to chase! But if caught & digested they can make your pup very sick. Small mammals can carry parasites, fleas, and a variety of diseases. If ingested your pup could get have a bad reaction. Tapeworms are a very common result to ingesting small animals. Teaching a “leave it” or “drop it” cue can be very beneficial if your pup is into critter chasing. Make sure your pup is up to date on parasite preventatives to keep them protected.

Rattlesnakes- There are two types of rattlesnakes that live in Central Oregon; the Great Basin Rattlesnake and the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. Both of these snakes are hearty in weight, have stubby tails equipped with jointed rattles, and have triangular-shaped heads. The Great Basin Rattlesnake is tan, light green, or grey in color. The Southern Pacific Rattlesnake ranges in color from dark brown to greenish brown to gray. You don’t have to memorize the differences between them, all you have to remember is not to go near one. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will only attack if they feel threatened, but if you accidentally step on one they will respond. It is a good idea to do snake training with your pup so that they never go near one while out on the trail. If you or your pup is bit by a rattlesnake, call an ambulance or haul ass to your nearest emergency vet. There is a vaccination that your pup can get, which helps slow the rate at which the venom travels through the blood and your pup will experience less pain. YOU MUST STILL GO TO THE VET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Stock photos Left: Great Basin Rattlesnake Right: Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Skunks- There are two types of skunks in Oregon, the spotted and the striped. They are both black and white, but the spotted is spotted, and the striped is striped. Imagine that. Both of these skunks will spray a acrid musk when threatened, so keep a safe distance if you see one. If your pup gets sprayed check their eyes and flush them with cool water, then give them an outdoor bath to remove the skunk oil from their coat. If you’ve tried tomato juice before you’ll know it doesn’t work very well. Instead try an off the shelf remedy from your pet store or create a mixture of 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Work into your pups fur and rinse thoroughly. Do not leave the solution on for long because the peroxide could bleach their coat. And do not get it near their eyes. Then shampoo them with their normal shampoo, rinse, and dry. 

Stock photos of skunks Left: Spotted Right: Striped

Porcupines- Porcupines are found throughout Oregon, mostly on the east side of the Cascades. They live in dens and spend their days munching on tree tops. They are large with short legs and their bodies are covered in bare-tipped quills. It’s a myth that porcupines can shoot their quills, but if threatened they will protect themselves. If your pup tries to kill one and gets quilled take them to the emergency vet right away. It is very dangerous to remove the quills yourself. They could break and get stuck under the skin. As your pup moves around the quills work their way deeper and deeper into their skin, muscle, and bone. Quills could stay in the skin for weeks, and if left untreated could cause serious infections and could lead to paralyzation or even death. 

Stock photo of a porcupine

Badgers- Badgers are unusual to come across because they are mostly nocturnal, but that doesn’t mean you might not run into one. Badgers are large and powerful. They have long bodies that are low to the ground, and long, sharp claws. Perfect for digging and self-defense. They will attack if threatened, and their claws can slice open skin like paper. Do not allow your pup to enter other animals homes uninvited. Keep them from sticking their heads in holes and from digging up burrows. 

Stock photo of a badger

Wolverine- They are rare, but they do exist in Oregon, and you should be prepared for when you might meet one. Wolverines basically look like small bears, with short legs and a bushy tail. They are normally out and about at nighttime, but will emerge during the day if they feel the need. Like most animals, they will only attack if they feel threatened. They are strong and powerful and have been known to take down deer. Don’t let your pups go sticking their noses in animal dens.

Stock photo of a wolverine

With fires blazing and a lot of new people moving to the state, wildlife has been forced to leave the safety of their homes and move out into new, uncharted territory. That means they are moving into human areas and you will encounter them more frequently. Be vigilant and keep your pups close!

Wildlife Education: Creepy Crawlers

When you’re out on the trail with your Pup there are a plethora of animals out there. Some are harmless, some are scared, and some are more than willing to stand their ground and defend their territory. Having some knowledge about the various animals out there will help you be prepared for when you and your Pup meet one on the trail. Let’s explore some Central Oregon wild animals together, starting with the smallest.

Fleas– Have you heard of the Central Oregon flea rumor? Someone is going around telling everyone that fleas don’t exist in Central Oregon! It’s blasphemy! Though fleas are uncommon in Central Oregon, they definitely exist. The High Desert is too cold and dry for fleas to thrive, but they live happily in rodent burrows and deer beds. They are normally only around during the warmer months, from spring through summer. Flea bites can cause a lot of grief, irritation, and pain. Keep your pups up to date on flea meds to keep them (and your entire world) protected. If you find fleas on your pup you’ll have to immediately give them a medicated flea bath and clean everything in your home.

Stock photo of fleas in dog fur

Thatching AntsThatching ants are somethin’ fierce. They have black thoraxes, red heads, and very angry faces. They got their name by creating their home in giant mounds made of mostly pine needles, sticks, and debris. You can see the mounds moving with ants. Each nest could contain literally millions of these ants. The threat of these ants is their bite! Human or dog, these ants will latch on and bite you! And those bites are lasting. They burn and sting and itch for hours after. It’s easy to avoid their mounds, but they have exit holes everywhere so ants swarm in a wide radius of their nests. Wearing high socks will help you, but your Pups are more exposed. If you notice them fussing with their feet or legs give them a once over and remove any ants you see. Tweezers work best, but you can also wrap up your hand in a cloth or poop bag and pluck those suckers out!

Stock photo of thatching ants

Ticks– There are about 20 different species of ticks in Oregon. Four of them are more common than others: the western Black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick), the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the American Dog tick, and the Brown Dog tick. The western black-legged tick is the only species known to carry Lyme disease in Oregon, but there are other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. Ticks often bite and burrow without the host even knowing. Many people who end up with a tick related disease had no idea they’d even been bit. Some ticks are smaller than a poppy seed, and they hang around in your hair or other areas you wouldn’t think to check after a trip outside. They’re sneaky, and very good at what they do. Ticks love hanging out on the tips of tall grass, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to brush through the grass. They latch onto their host and don’t let go. They have tiny hooks in their mouths that they use to burrow into skin. If you find one on your pup you can remove them with tweezers. Place the tip of the tweezers as close to the skin as possible, do your best to pinch the tick by the head and pull it straight out, slowly. If you are not comfortable or confident removing a tick take them into the vet asap. Check your dogs after every outing, and keep them up to date on tick medication to keep them safe and healthy.

Stock photo of a tick burrowing into skin

Spiders– Spiders are everywhere, and pups are constantly getting into their business. The three types of spiders to look out for are Black Widows, Hobos, and Yellow Sac spiders. The most common, and most dangerous venomous spider is a Black Widow. Females are the ones to look out for, as most males are rarely seen and are often eaten by their mates. They are black and sport a red hourglass on the bottom side of their abdomen. Their bite can cause muscle pain, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Hobo spiders are also something to look out for. They are reddish brown and often have stripes across the tops of their bodies. Their bites can cause necrosis, headaches, and vision impairment. And lastly, Yellow Sac spiders have a bite similar to the Brown Recluse. They are not quite yellow, and are more of a brownish tan color. Their bites are not as serious as the Black Widow or Hobo, but can cause swelling, redness, and a stinging sensation. These three spiders can be found anywhere. In homes, in yards, in the desert, and in the woods. They don’t bite humans very often, but will bite a dog if they are startled or feel threatened. Pups will often show signs of a bite within an hour. Most bites occur on their faces and will begin to swell. You most likely will not know that your pup encountered a spider, but if you see swelling or redness occur take them to the vet right away.

Stock photo of a pup with a swollen face

Stay tuned for our next Wilderness Education post about Small Animals such as squirrels, porcupines, badgers, etc.

A Love Story

It’s almost the 6th year anniversary of when I adopted my sweet, amazing Pup Link from the Oregon Humane Society. The day my life changed forever, in the best possible ways. But his journey to me took much longer than 6 years. I’ve been waiting and searching for him for 30 years.

When I was young all I wanted was a dog. It’s all I talked about. I began bringing home neighbor’s pets, claiming that I would love them more and take better care of them than their humans did. Which was probably true, but I still had to return them to their families. Luckily these families saw how much I loved their pets, so rather than call the authorities they paid me to hang out with their fur babies! I worked in pet care through elementary, middle, and high school just so I could spend time with all the animals possible.

When I was a teenager I thought I would be ready to get a dog after high school, but once I got into my 20s I realized I worked too much and moved around too much to give a dog the care it deserved. So I (not so) patiently waited, doing anything possible to spend time with dogs. I worked at veterinary clinics, & doggie daycares, volunteered in shelters, participated in dog training & behavior classes, and played with every dog that would allow me to. I even worked at a portrait studio where 40% of our clients were pets.

And then one day, while I was volunteering as a dog walker at the Oregon Humane Society, I saw him. He was slumped over in the back of his kennel, looking away from the passing crowds. I watched as people said hello to the little dog on his left, then pass him by with a sideways glance, and move on to say hello to the little dog on his right. “That good boy needs a walk,” I thought. I went to the back of his run and read his card. His name was Fritz. He was from Walla Walla and transferred to OHS as part of their Second Chance Program. He had been adopted recently, but after only 6 days he was returned for “behavior issues”. I walked into his kennel and he walked over to me, his head down as if he wasn’t fully convinced I was taking him out. He reminded me of Eeyore. I could almost hear him say, “Thanks for noticin’ me.” I instantly loved him.

We walked the trails behind the shelter. He walked slowly by my side and didn’t sniff much. He barely acknowledged other animals. He just kind of Eeyored by my side. We spent our maximum allotted time outside, and when I brought him back to his kennel I sat with him for a bit. He didn’t seem to care if I was there or not, but when I got up to leave he lifted his head for the first time and looked up at me. So sad, and so cute. I could feel what he was telling me. I locked up his kennel, went into the office and said “can you give me all the info you have on Fritz and put a hold on him please?”

The next day, the day before Thanksgiving of 2014, I took my partner, Brendon, to meet him. We walked into the meeting room and a volunteer versed us on Fritz’s issues and how the adoption processed worked. Then she left to get him. We were so anxious. We didn’t know if we were ready for a dog, or if he would even like us. He came into the room, and just as before he was calm and somber. He barely sniffed around. He greeted Brendon and I, and then as the volunteer was talking about his aloofness, Fritz laid down at Brendon’s feet and fell asleep. The volunteer stopped talking, and we all knew, Fritz was our dog.

We signed papers, bought the necessities from the shelter store, and took Fritz home. He was so small and wide-eyed on our drive home. He cautiously settled into his new life, and we named him Linkavich Fritz Bowowski. Our missing Link.

Over the next few weeks we worked on his separation anxiety and other fear based behaviors. Then over the next few months we worked on his dog socialization skills. He was friendly, but was a ruff player and got agitated quickly. We came to learn he had a pretty ruff first few months of life. He was separated from his mom and litter mates too early so his social skills were lacking. He was thrown from or hit by a car as a puppy and as a result had to have an entire row of teeth removed and has permanent hip & joint damage. His first adopter left him home alone for hours in a new environment, with a new dog, without any acclimation process, which resulted in his return to the shelter. It didn’t help his mental situation, but it did bring Link and I together.

He’s come a very long way. And continues to learn and grow every single day. From a shaky, anxious Fritz to a bossy, goofball Link. I am so proud of the man he has become. He has more friends than I do, deep sleeps on the couch when he’s home alone, loves car rides & going anywhere with his humans, paddle boards, swims, runs, leaps, plays soccer, and chases lizards. He lives his life to the fullest.

In 2013 his kennel card read “His handsome face and endearing personality will capture your heart and make you ask yourself how you ever lived without him”, and today I totally agree. How did I ever live without him?

Counter Clockwise: (top left) Fritz’s shelter photo 2014, (below) a month after adopting Link 2014, (below) his first yard 2015, (bottom left) his favorite activity 2018, (bottom right) playing with his best bud 2019, (top right) being a total stud at the dog park 2020

Winter Preparedness

Our favorite time of the year is coming! Time to roll in the snow, play catch with snowballs, and plow through powder! Below you will find some tips on how to keep your Pup safe & some suggestions on how to have fun in the cold!

Safety First

Be sure to play in areas that you are familiar with! The snow can hide secret dangers such as sticks, rocks, pipes, etc. Make sure your pup isn’t leaping and bounding in areas that could contain these sharp items, and instead play in areas that you know well.

Keep snowballs from accumulating in your Pup’s fluff! Boots, jackets, gaiters are all great options for keeping your Pup’s fur free of snow and ice clumps. Be sure to get them comfortable wearing these items before big outings. Fresh haircuts are also helpful in keeping snowballs at bay. Keeping leg & foot fluff closely trimmed will do wonders. Snow & ice clumps can cause painful knots and dreadlocks. If you get snow clumps, coconut oil & Musher’s Secret are very helpful.

Don’t eat any snow! Snow can carry bacteria and parasites, and most snow salts are unsafe for digestion, so though it may look like a lot of fun, try not to let your Pup eat snow.

Swimming season is over! When outdoor temps drop below 45, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid swimming. Especially if you’re far from a warm, dry place. Dogs can get hypothermia too.

Snow clumps can be a nuisance for fluffy Pups

Fun & Games

Nosework is an awesome game to play in the snow! The snow makes it more difficult to pick up scents, so placing items/toys/treats in the snow can be quite the brain game. Pieces of cheese work great!

Snow mazes are fun for everyone! Dig out a snow maze in your yard or a nearby park and have your Pup run through. You can combine mazes with nosework for even more fun.

Sink a ball in the snow! Toss a ball into the snow so it sinks a bit and have your Pup jump in after it. Make sure you do this in an area that you know doesn’t contain hidden dangers.

Skijoring is a great bonding & physical exercise! It literally connects you and your dog and gets you both outside, working out your bodies and your minds.

Bonding & Exercise! (photo from akc.org)

Sometimes Home is Best

There are a lot of outdoor winter activities your dog is not interested in. Use your best judgement when deciding on bringing your Pup along. You know them best, after all.

Sitting outdoors at local watering holes or restaurants. Even with a coat on, your Pup can get very wet & cold sitting outdoors watching you and your human friends sip on beer. And it’s not always as fun for them as it is for you.

Shreddin’ Mt Bachelor is for humans. Bringing your Pup along to wait in the car is not fun or comfortable. A warm couch is a better option for them. If you can’t leave them alone in your hotel, look into some dog care options 🙂

Places to Get Outdoor Gear

Ruffwear is local AND they make excellent products!

Hundr is a company in the UK that takes old human outdoor clothing and recycles it into new, fashionable dog gear!

Backcountry has a lot of different brands under one roof… roof, roof! Woah sorry I got carried away.

Curing Boredom for You & Your Pup

Oregon is on fire. So is California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. Which means there is a whole lotta smoke covering most of our country. A lot of us our stuck indoors, and a lot of our Pups are stuck indoors too. So I thought I would share a fun dog craft with everyone!

snuffle mat

This is a Snuffle Mat. I know it just looks like a mess of fabric, but trust me, it’s actually a pretty fun game. It’s used for easy nosework and offers great mental stimulation for your housebound Pup. They are mass produced, come in a variety of styles, and sell for about $40+ in stores. But the good news is you can spend about $5 and make one yourself! It helps cure hours of boredom for you, feels great to make your Pup something they love, and helps your Pup work out his brain while stuck inside!

They are super easy to make, but I’m not going to lie, they take A LOT of time! If you’d like me to make you one, please shoot me an email! I make them and sell them for $20 and all profits go to the Oregon Humane Society!

Supplies:

  1. Scissors
  2. Plastic Sink Mat (pictured below, you can find these for about $4 at ACE)
  3. Felt or any super soft fabric, remember your Pup is going to be shoving his snout into this! The softer the better! (Thrift stores are excellent places to find super cheap felt/fabric! You can also recycle some unwanted clothes!)
  4. Patience & maybe a good show to binge
plastic sink mat

Steps:

  1. Begin cutting felt into strips, about 1″ wide and about 5-7″ long. They don’t have to be exact, having them vary in dimensions will spice things up on your finished mat 🙂
cut strips of felt/fabric

2. Begin by inserting one strip of felt through two neighboring holes in the sink mat, then tie it off. Continue looping the felt strips through holes and tying them.

loop felt through holes in sink mat and tie them off

3. Continue tying the felt to the plastic mat until every hole, and every direction has fabric through it.

tie felt through every hole, in every direction. this photo is of the bottom of the mat, so you can see how it should look.

That’s it! You’ve made a Snuffle Mat! Now break up some treats and nestle them into the felt “fingers” and let your dog go to work! If you’re really bored you can make several of these and place them around the house full of treats! That way your Pup can get a little extra brain work in!

you can see how thick the felt becomes when you’re finished, and the challenge it will present your Pup. we like using soft treats that are easy to break apart & tough to fish out.

* There are a lot of tutorials online if you need some video guidance