I’ve shared some pretty awesome adventures with my four-legged friend Zara over the years. Like most dogs, she absolutely loves to hit the road with her head out the window as she soaks it all up.
I’ve actually found that having a well-trained four-legged mate along for the ride is pretty damn handy in a lot of ways too. How? Well, when I’m unsure how deep a water crossing is, I’ll throw a stick in the water and tell her to fetch it. If she has to swim instead of walk, I know it’s getting a bit deep, and if she sinks into mud, I know the 4WD doesn’t have a chance. Heck, I’ve even taught her to grab a beer from the esky for me!
My old dog Chief used to help pull the canoe up a steep river bank, and even help collect kindling for the fire. Yep, ever since dogs were first domesticated they’ve been sharing campsites with a wagging tail the whole time, but these days touring with pets can be a bit of a pain in the you-know-what.
Just recently, I got talking to a national parks officer near a logging zone and asked why dogs aren’t allowed into national park campsites. The answer: because their scent scares away native animals. Really? Surely a logging area akin to a warzone would scare away native animals more, wouldn’t you think?
There’s no dispute that feral dogs are a real problem, and that an untrained dog can be a nightmare to camp with, but I would think there has to be another way to protect native species and make it easier for pet-loving campers along the way. Maybe a pet licensing or permit scheme is the go, or designated pet-friendly camping areas within national parks so pet lovers don’t miss out on national park attractions?
Either way, I doubt we’ll see any changes soon. Regardless, if you’ve a four-legged friend don’t be afraid to bring him along for the ride. It sure beats paying for a pet sitter and it’s a good feeling knowing you’ve given your best mate a life instead of the same old backyard every day.
Check out the full feature in issue #90 July 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine.