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September 2005 Low Rage No Dogs On 4x4 Trail Rides

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2005
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Contributors: Dennis Pierce

When I use the drive-through window at the bank and the teller spots my dog in the back seat, the deposit slip usually comes back with a dog biscuit in the tube. I've almost tripped over my broker's old Golden more than once when I visit his office. Dogs are welcome in most businesses here and one has to be suspect of the competency of a building contractor who doesn't have a Golden Retriever in the bed of his truck with a Harley-Davidson bandanna around its neck!

However, when it comes time to organize a trail ride, mine are strictly dog-free events. I learned over the years that dogs are a pain on a trail ride.

Probably the worst-case scenario involving a dog and a trail ride occurred in Telluride some years ago. I was leading the novice group of drivers who had signed up for the Superwinch/Rotary 4x4 Tour into Gold King Basin. A great spot for mining history, geology, and wildflowers, and it's also home to a great many marmots or "whistle pigs."

Before you could say, "Lock 'em up," a large dog of questionable breeding jumps out of a Jeep and nails a cute, cuddly little marmot in front of four little kids. Needless to say, the parents were not very happy, and the dog's owner mumbled something akin to an apology.

Delays of up to a couple of hours are not uncommon when some dog decides to chase a deer into the woods during the lunch break and the owner takes off trying to find it. Usually, the dog wanders back after everybody has joined in and is beating the bushes trying to find it. Then there is Murphy's Law that says it never fails that a pile of dog poop is right next to one of your tires when you go to air down.

"My dog never chases game animals," ranks right at the top of the list of famous lies like, "The check is in the mail." You could put a toy poodle out in the field and watch it start running like crazy when a couple of deer show up.

Before I instituted a dog ban on my trail rides, I put up with mutts stealing sandwiches, a dog that got car-sick, and another dog that never stopped barking during the entire ride. One of the scariest moments I ever had was stepping in to break up a fight between two dogs lacking in basic manners. It never fails that if you stop by a lake or stream, somebody will have a dog that gets totally wet and then shakes off the water right in front of you while you're enjoying lunch.

There is something in a dog's DNA that causes them to go straight towards the most expensive set of wheels in the group and mark them! And, I double-dog guarantee you that the wheels that get marked do not belong to the owner of the dog.

From time to time when I'm doing a solo trip, I will take my dog Molly, a Golden Retriever/Lab mix. I also make sure that the dog is tied in with a short leash that will not allow her to jump out and be dragged or choked to death. I also take extra food and water for the pooch. You'd be surprised at how many 'wheelers I've encountered on the trail who are totally unprepared to take care of a dog on an all-day outing.

So, unless you have a dog like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin that can run 14 miles to the local auto parts store with a credit card in its collar and return with the correct fan belt between its teeth, leave Fido at home when you go out with a 'wheeling group.

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