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Paddling with your best friend - your dog

I'm on my third dog now. Angel is a "Gollie" - a mix between a border collie and a golden retriever. She's a great dog, and the best part is she loves canoe tripping just as much as my other two dogs (Bailey and Ellie - may they rest in peace). Angel carries her pack full of her kibble on the portage, doesn't whine or bark in the canoe, and she stays close to us most of the time, except when a squirrel or chipmunk wanders into camp.

Dogs are a strange breed. Some are well behaved and considerate, while others are just a plain nuisance, which is why the question of having them join you on a canoe trip is not all that cut and dry. Much of it depends on the actions of the owners themselves. I witnessed someone's beagle harass a cow moose by leaping out of the canoe and swim after the poor beast. Half my food pack was once consumed by a golden retriever at the take-out of a portage. At a public campground I saw a poodle, which was leashed to a tree during the night, torn apart by a pack of coyotes. I had the displeasure if mistaking an over friendly and unleashed black lab for a marauding black bear while walking the portage. And more than once I've set my tent on top a mound of fresh dog doo-doo and didn't realize it until I packed up the next day. I blame these incidents, not on the dogs, but on the owners themselves.

Taking care of your dog on a trip, and making sure it behaves, is a prime point to make. There's far too many campers that have their dog tag-along on a trip but don't bother taking care of it. They're probably the same people that leave their pooch locked up in a hot car while they go off shopping.

Your dog can be a real pleasure to have on a camping trip. Just remember they need to be cared for as well. Pack a sleeping pad for the tent, even a mini sleeping bag for cool nights. There's insect repellent for dogs that contains less harmful ingredients. A slab of foam padding glued to the bottom of the canoe provides a perfect spot for the dog to sit in the canoe, and gives it a place to call its own, which in turn helps control the dog while in the boat. An umbrella holder can be attached to the gunwale of the canoe to help prevent the dog getting heat stroke. There's also PFDs for dogs. Also, make sure to pack specific items in the first-aid kit for your dog:

First-aid kit for Dogs

  • Ace self-adhering athletic bandages
  • Cotton Balls or Q-tips
  • Vet rap bandage - the kind used for dressing a horse's leg
  • Sock - great for keeping a foot bandage on
  • Gauze sponges
  • Liquid Bandages - works great on patching mild cuts on pads
  • Antiseptic towelettes
  • Hydrocortisone acetate -- one percent cream
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Eye rinsing solution
  • Small container of Vaseline
  • Hydrogen peroxide - a good way to induce vomiting (1-3 tsp. every 10 minutes until dog vomits).
  • Benadryl (1-2 tablets every 8 hours for average size dog)
  • Pepto Bismol tablets (1-2 tablets every 6 hours for average size dog)
  • Buffered aspirin 1-2 tablets every four fours for an average size dog. Do NOT give Tylenol or ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin, etc.) as it is toxic to a dog's liver.
  • Kaopectate tablets (1-2 maximum strength tablets every 2 hours for an average size dog)
  • Emergency ice pack
  • Ear syringe
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Blanket
  • Dog's health record and phone number of ordinary vet

Kevin Callan is the author of 15 books including "The New Trailside Cookbook" and "The Happy Camper." A regular keynote speaker at major North American canoeing and camping expos for over 20 years, he has received three National Magazine Awards and four film awards, including top award at the prestigious Waterwalker Film Festival. Callan lives in Peterborough, Ontario, birthplace of the modern-day canoe.

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