From now until Earth Day, we invite you to read our daily staff tips on how you can make a difference for wildlands.
My favorite way to experience wilderness is in the company of a canine friend. Over the years, I have explored many wild areas — always in the company of my dogs. Bringing our dogs along on backcountry adventures is non-negotiable to many of us, but it does raise a couple of challenges when thinking about trying to leave no impact on the places we visit. Here are a couple ideas I follow:
- How to handle doggie “duty” (as we call it in our house): Since I’ve primarily been an urban resident, taking “duty” bags along is second nature. But what’s one to do when there isn’t a garbage can along the way or at the top of your scenic vista? “Leave no trace” definitely includes canine traces, and as responsible dog folk, we still need to scoop it. Here are a couple tips: Bring plenty of bags — several more than you think you could possibly need (“He’s not going again, is he?!”). I use Bio-bags, which are lightweight and biodegradable, although they are not very effective against odor. So I double-bag, tuck the bags in a heavy Ziploc, and then store that in another lightweight, sealable container (such as a small dry-bag). And, if your dog wears a pack, you can reserve one side of it for his “stuff” so he can even pack it out himself!
- Potential impact on wildlife and other hikers/backcountry enthusiasts: This is where the rule about having your dog on leash or under voice control at all times comes in. Some dogs will traipse happily along the trail and not be tempted by that deer or grouse crashing off into the bushes. But, if you have sporting breeds like I do, on-leash is the only way to go. Some day my dogs might be “trained” enough to go on a hike off-leash, but until I am sure, they remain safely connected to me by their leashes. That way, other animals and people don’t get harassed by them, and I won’t ever have to worry about putting up one of those “LOST DOG” signs I see at trailheads every year.
Tip 4: Connect kids with nature
— Stephanie Taylor, Assistant Vice President of Development, Pacific Northwest Region
photos: Stephanie Taylor with canine companions Sonny and Leo at Blue Lake.