Backcountry Tips and Tricks, Gear Reviews, Roam, Tech, Travel

The Roaming Retriever: Coastal Camping

This was a weekend of firsts for the roaming retriever. First time camping, first time spending extended time with another dog (at least since being with us), first time seeing the ocean, and first time being in the car for more than an hour. The lack of crowding due to potential bad weather and relatively short drive to the ocean drew us to camp at Lake Sonoma. To be honest there was a bit of terror going into this weekend, there’s still a lot we’ve yet to learn about our new adventure pup. Thankfully, we were meeting great friends who have a great service dog and know a bit about the adjustment and training that goes into to getting a new canine family member. Folks, meet Zoomers. A lovable lab who is a service dog for Dogs 4 Diabetics. This girl has completely changed ours friends’ lives for the better, offering the freedom to adventure and do daily life with out the fear of an unexpected drop in blood sugar. Zoomers can sense a drop coming up to 30 minutes before it takes affect on the body. Amazing. She’s trained to alert our friend, Brit, and not leave her alone until she checks her blood sugar. Along with this epic task, Zoomers has excellent behavior and training in general…most of the time. She’s definitely still got some puppy in her. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Day 1 A 4 hour car ride to the coast, beautiful but nauseating. The question of the day between my husband and I? “Do dogs get car sick too?” But with windows down and an ever smiling pup in between us, we didn’t have to find out the answer to that question. That night after a cold brew and quick chat around the fire, we decided to for-go the tent and just crash in the bed of the truck. We’re car camping, what do you expect, effort? With the intent that Sauvie would sleep on the side of the bed and my husband and I in the middle, I laid out the sleeping mats for us and Sauvies foam thermarest on the side. Nope. That dog sprawled out on my sleeping mat just looked at me like, “thanks for the bed, human”. So after a night of dog cuddles, kicks, wet noses, and grumpy growling every time someone walked by our site, we woke up (un)rested and ready for the day’s adventure. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Day 2 But first, coffee. Having a 2 year old dog requires all your attention, plus some more, especially camping. After caffeine, a fantastic scramble complete with bacon and cheese, we set off for the coast. Now, as we all know Sauvie is a water loving dog, and the ocean is a big body of water. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concern he might leap into the ocean and swim out to sea. But the waves were enough of an entertainment for him, and as long as we were throwing a tennis ball or frisbee, the beach was his playground. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetA few hours running and playing at the beach and Zoomers and Sauvie were spent. We headed back, our pups smelling of wet dog and ocean. They were definitely in need of a rinse, but more so to wash off the salt. Salt, for too long on a dog’s paw pads, can be pretty damaging. We let them swim in Lake Sonoma for a little while and they were good as new, now only smelling like lake instead of ocean. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I’d like to give a shout out to Adventure Medical Kit. These guys have created a first aid kit for both you and your pup and it’s compact enough to fit in their pack. Now, thankfully I didn’t have to use any of it’s contents except for their medical book. Guys, this thing is a short novel, it has everything from dealing with gun shot wounds, to dog CPR, to diharea and vomiting. Surprise! Apparently, Sauvie hasn’t learned the difference between normal water and salt water. Also, pretty sure he ingested a pound or so of sand. Let’s just say over the next several hours he got a pretty good digestive detox, scrubbed clean. Sauvie vomited three times and fire hosed out the back a couple more. AMK recommended cooked rice and regulated amounts of water over the next day or so for both vomitting and diharea , they were right. After 12 hours of rice and water, Sauvie was cleaned out and back to his normal self. Poor guy, I think we’ll stick to lakes in the meantime. IMG_4871 That night our furry friends laid on their beds next to the fire as we chowed down on fajitas and the most epic s’mores you’ve ever heard of (Hawaiian sweet bread surrounding marshmallows and pretzely/carmely/chocolaty goodness). A tired dog is a happy dog. And yes, night two was identical to night one. Day 3 Again, coffee first, always. To end our weekend camping trip, we took the dogs, rested and ready for more adventure, down to the lake again. It felt like forever that we threw balls and frisbees and they retrieved again and again. Sadly, the Major Dog Frisbee we both loved so dearly is now floating out somewhere in the middle of Lake Sonoma after Sauvie missed it and went for a stick instead. Despite the guilt of unintentionally littering in a lake, I can’t help but hear the classic Sarah McLaughlin song, ‘I Will Remember You’ every time I see that toy in pictures. So long Major Dog Frisbee, you will be missed, I hope you’re able to be found by some other pup. image1-2 We finished up our trip with a stop by Bear Republic Brewery, an excellent establishment that welcomes dogs and has incrediblele food and brews. Make sure to keep an eye on how stimulated your dog is getting in public places. Thankfully it wasn’t until we were done eating that Sauvie started getting restless and uncomfortable with the other dogs in the place and we felt it best to leave. image3 Sauvie and Zoomers got along great this weekend, with the occasional irritated scuffle for stealing the other one’s toy. We have a feeling, a few more adventures together and they’ll be best friends.

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Wendy Ewing

Wendy Ewing is a Washignton native and Northern California transplant. Growing up at the base of the North Cascades, her entire upbringing revolved around the mountains. With her family, Wendy spent most of her childhood backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, and mountain biking. With a strong passion for wilderness ethics and personal growth and development, she decided to pursue building Wild Beginnings Adventure Co. Wendy has written gear reviews for Trek Tech, Innovation & Tech Today, and Active Junky. In the winter season you can find her back country skiing and both trail running and mountain biking the rest of the year. Wendy lives in Shasta Lake, CA with her husband, John, and their adventure retriever, Sauvie.