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Horror Tails from the Trails



If you are a parent to human kids, you are celebrating surviving to the end of the school year (We did it! High five!). If you’re a parent to furry kids, you’re celebrating surviving the spring blizzards and preparing for summer hikes, trips to the dog park, and enjoying beers at the local dog friendly pub.

I love the atmosphere of Upslope on Lee Hill in North Boulder, 1501 Lee Hill Dr. If you go now try the Citra Pale Ale, perfect for summer. My sister’s dog, Dexter, and I enjoyed a couple pints at Upslope last summer. He’s a German Short-haired Pointer with anxiety and attachment issues. I love him to pieces, but sometimes he gets wound up and needs to sit in your lap, hold hands, and snuggle. I found he does well at the Wonderland Lake trailhead, conveniently located less than a mile from the Upslope on Lee Hill. The trails are easy for the eleven-year-old dog to handle, and they are good for this human and her joint issues. Sometimes Wonderland can get a bit crowded on the weekends but we seldom have issues with aggressive animals or overcrowding.

What I love most about Wonderland is that I can plan my hike using the interactive map on the city of Boulder’s website. Click here to plan your own hike. After you’re done with your hike, you can either walk the 0.9 miles to Upslope for a cold beer or you can drive down. No one will judge you (except Steve, but he judges everyone).

Perhaps you want to ask that cute person at the office to join you for a beer and hike, but your dog is not the best behaved, and you don’t want it to reflect poorly on you. You googled trail etiquette for dogs and took a half-hearted glance at a few articles. You get the basic rules: Don’t let your dog socialize and say, “Hi,” respect other’s space, and  make sure the dog has good leash/recall skills.

My friend and his Great Dane, Dane, were hiking Boulder Falls (another fantastic hike) when they came across a terrier mix that his Great Dane mistook for a toy. Luckily the owners stopped anything from happening, but I’m sure that little dog thinks twice about running at a dog a thousand times bigger barking like a fiend now. This is frustrating because the little dog was off-leash in an area labeled leash required. The other owner justified the off-leash because the dog’s “small, and trained,” however the dog didn’t heed its owners attempts to recall when it rushed at Dane. Incidents like this one are avoidable if you pay attention to the rules of the trail and keep your dog on a leash. This is an excellent example of what not to do. Don’t bend the rules when you hike with your furry kids. Always obey the trail “laws.”

Those two also love Boxcar Coffee Roasters after a hike. The Kouign Amanns is a must order, so are the scones. Dane likes to try to drink his human’s Rwanda Gatare coffee.



Another friend was with her adorable, oafish Black Lab off leash. He’s trained and very obedient. They were hiking Bear Peak Canyon loop (great hike, but hard) because there’s lighter foot traffic. Max, her doggo, is great but sometimes he forgets that not every person and animal wants to be his best friend. Sometimes because of this excitement around other animals, he can bring out their aggressive streak. So now they stick to lighter populated trails, and they’ve done boundary work with Max to keep him, and others, safe. Bear Peak Canyon loop is one of their favorite hikes. While on the hike, Max broke his leg. He was playing on the boulders after being told to stop jumping around. He slipped and took a four foot tumble. Max originally tried to keep walking, but my friend stopped him and forced him to take a break.

Luckily she always carries her Adventure Medical Kits ADS Me And My Dog First Aid Kit. She did what she felt comfortable doing, carried him back to the car, and headed to the vet. While he hated wearing the cone they gave him, his leg healed up just fine. They eased back into the hard hikes, but they’re finally back on their favorite trail again. They always stop at the Walnut Cafe or Moe’s Bagels after their hike.

Dexter had a run in with a porcupine last summer while on a hike in Clear Creek County. They went to check out a new trail near the campground. While hiking, Dexter pulled on his leash and spun in circles. Usually he does this when he’s trying to find a place to poo. So my sister relaxed her grip on the leash and allowed Dexter to go off the trail. He got excited by a new scent and barked wildly. The barking quickly turned to whimpering and howling. My brother-in-law picked Dexter up and held him so he wouldn’t bite at the quills. Luckily they had cell service and checked in with their vet, who had a friend thirty minutes from the campground. Since then, Dexter gets very anxious if he’s taken camping, so he gets to come hang out with me or one of his other human aunts while mom and dad camp. If you are in a remote location and your dog meets a porcupine, there are a few things you can do. Check out bit.ly/PetQuills for helpful info in case you cannot get to a vet. Hopefully you have the tools you need. When hiking around Boulder, Dexter’s parents suggest Wild Woods Brewery.



My close friend and their dog ran into a bear while backpacking. Ox is a rescue; we’re unsure what breed of dog he is, but he loves his human, and would lay his life down for them. They live out of a van converted into a tiny mobile house. Those two have enjoyed plenty of wild adventures together. From getting lost during a blizzard, to Ox falling out of a raft while on class four rapids, their stories often sound too wild to be true, but we’ve seen the pictures, and in some cases the doctors bills.

The story that always sticks with me is the time they ran into a bear while doing a solo backpacking trip. They loosely followed the Boulder double bypass. I found a map over on Backpacker that is close to the route they took. They lucked into a quiet hike with nearly no other folks on the trail. The first day was uneventful and breathtaking. Very early on day two, Ox and his human encountered a mama black bear with her cub. It had been a beautiful night, so they chose not to set up their tent at the end of that first day of hiking. When encountering the bear, Ox and his human did everything right. My friend spoke in a low tone and kept talking while making them look bigger. They didn’t let Ox attack, they backed away slowly. By not engaging and not letting Ox engage, the mama bear and her cub didn’t attack. They investigated but lost interest and moved away.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful compared to the bear encounter. When asked, they said they love Coot Lake and Boulder Reservoir to swim when it’s too hot to hike.

These are just a few examples of the mishaps that can happen when you take your dog adventuring with you. What kept these trail mishaps from turning really bad? For Dane, it was the recall training my friend did with him and being aware of their surroundings. Those are two of the most important things to remember anytime you’re out with your furry kid. Make sure your dog will listen to you and make sure that you as the owner are paying attention and prepared to step in if necessary. For Max, it was that my friend was prepared and didn’t panic. The other examples were all a blend of the three.

So how can you have a successful encounter? Leash training and recall training are key. Check out Zuke’s: How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called for great tips to help your dog become better behaved and how to get them to listen better.

You can also take into consideration that perhaps your dog will do better on trails with light traffic, like Max. You can filter out dog-friendly trails that have light traffic at alltrails.com. You can also filter for the hike you’re in the mood for. AllTrails is another one of my favorite tools to use when planning my outdoor adventures.

So you’ve taken all that advice, your dog is doing better on the leash and isn’t as embarrassing to have out in public. The next thing you want to take into consideration is that you both need the proper gear for your hike. Never go hiking without water. When I asked friends with dogs what their favorite hiking products were, many people recommended either the Highwave AutoDogMug Portable Dog Water Bottle & Bowl or the Ruffwear Trail Runner Bowl. The Highwave isn’t one hundred percent leakproof, so it’s best to attach the filled water bottle to the outside of your pack. If you’re going to be on rough terrain, Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots were suggested as a great way to help protect your dogs feet. It’s always smart to have treats for your dog and snacks for yourself. Everyone also mentioned to have a first aid kit. ADS has three different first aid kits to choose from. I’d suggest the Adventure Medical Kits ADS Me And My Dog First Aid Kit as it’s for both humans and dogs alike.

So you have the etiquette down pat, you’ve bought new gear for yourself and your dog. What’s stopping you? Summer can’t heat up if you don’t go out there and take a chance. Ask that cute person out, a hike with you and your well-trained furry kid, followed by a cold beer at Upslope sounds like the perfect way to ease into summer. Remember if they say no, don’t take it to heart, we all hear no sometimes. Someone else will be your yes, but that’s a topic for another article.

Don’t forget to obey trail rules, stay hydrated, and have fun. Happy trails, and maybe I’ll run into you on the next hike!

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