I like dogs as much as I like trucks. In fact, I probably like dogs and trucks more than I like other people! And where trucks can be cantankerous and undependable at times, dogs are almost always happy and fun to be around. Of course, the more work you put into your truck or dog, the better results you get from both.
I have had a lot of good trucks and bad trucks in my life, but all the dogs I’ve ever owned have been great. Most recently I had to put a great dog to sleep after many years of companionship, and it was just about the worst day ever. If you’ve ever gone through it you know what I mean. It sucks. But there comes a point when your dog looks at you and you know that they’re ready for the aches and pains to end, and it’s your job as their human to take care of them the same way they took care of you every time they gave you a big wet dog lick, or growled at a weird noise outside, or laid at your feet while you did some job at your desk or work bench.
My dog was a great dog, but she wasn’t really what you’d picture as a truck dog. In fact, she was a little stinker that I never thought I’d like to live with (or be seen with), but the next thing you know I was the guy with the big lifted truck and little white fluffy dog. Say what you want about me and my trucks. I don’t really care. But insult my dog and we’ll be fighting!
As things happen, my friend Verne had a great dog named Red Dog that did like 4-wheeling and running the trails, plus he was a cool mutt that fit the image of a trail dog. Unfortunately Red Dog also passed away recently. You can only imagine the amount of dirt and dust that gets the blame for a few teary eyes around the 4WOR headquarters these days. You’da thunk someone had taken all our toys away, but it was just that old age took away our little furry copilots.
I have seen many great dogs on the trails, even though I know lots of folks think it’s bad to bring dogs along, but I’m here to say I think dogs are as important to 4-wheeling as grease is to a U-joint. They just go together. Sure, you need to be safe. Keep them out of the way of other vehicles, keep them secure when in your vehicle, don’t let them bite or fight, clean up after them if they leave a mess by your buddies tire, and make sure they have plenty of kibble and agua just like anyone else in your truck. If they truly are miserable wheeling with you, then leave them at home, but don’t feel that you can’t have your dogs in your rig unless the rules of your trails specifically say you can’t.
As for me, I have two other dogs that are still alive and kicking, and Verne also has another (it’s like we collect these critters like we collect trucks?!). Mine happily ride with me in all my vehicles and seem to like all my trucks (that’s what it means when they pee on every tire in the shop, doesn’t it? Little buggers!). If you have a dog that you take 4-wheeling, give it a good ear scratch from all of us here at the magazine. We hope to meet you both on the trail someday.