For the Love of Dogs, “Paws Before You Go” Dagny Stahl, Guest Blogger!
If you don’t know I love dogs, then you haven’t seen my Instagram or Facebook photos. I am a dog lover– and always have been. Animals are special to me since they provide a special kind of company for people. Here in Los Angeles and across Southern California, dogs and cats are favorite pets with dogs being seen more often because they are with their owners out and about the city. The topic of this post is about dogs– as you can tell from the title. The author- Dagny Stahl– is a California girl who loves nature and dogs. A lot of her spare time – outside of school and her work as an Ambassador Girl Scout– is spent ” hiking, backpacking and camping with my
dogs”. Dagny’s experience in all of the elements of her life- school, family, Girl Scouts, hiking, backpacking, camping with her dogs” is all neatly tied together in her initiative-driven website, Paws Before You Go. Definitely worth a read before you take your dog out for a hike or a run!
Paws Before You Go
By Dagny Stahl
Los Angeles is surrounded by beautiful mountains and trails, and populated with an enthusiastic hiking community, as hiking is a fun way to explore these landscapes, get exercise, and spend time with your friends, which for many of us includes our four-legged companions. What do you bring with you on a hike? A water bottle? A Clif bar? Maybe some Band-aids? Are you bringing something to ensure your own safety? Have you ever thought about your dog’s safety on these hikes? Pet owners have double the responsibility: themselves and their animals. This includes bringing sufficient water and a first-aid kit–for yourself and for your dog as well. Yes, dogs are animals, but a dog living in an urban home is not as adapted to the wilderness as one might believe, and they can injure themselves hiking just like people can.
A hurt human can be persuaded to limp back to the trailhead and co-operate with you as you support and assist him or her. However, a hurt dog can refuse to walk at all and may be too heavy to carry. This very situation happened to me when I met Bailey, the Bernese Mountain Dog on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River last summer when hiking back from the Bridge to Nowhere with my family. Bailey had cut her paws badly on sharp rocks and was refusing to walk, and at 100 pounds was too heavy for her owners or me and my parents to carry her. Her owners did not have any first-aid supplies to help her, but luckily we did. It was getting dark, we were three miles from the car, and the terrain ahead of us featured steep inclines, water crossings, and more sharp rocks. We were able to bandage her paws and it took 7 people over 2 hours to coax Bailey back to the safety of the trailhead parking lot. We took turns carrying her for short distances and transporting her with a makeshift gurney made out of a tarp we found, and–what worked the best–supporting her weight with a beach towel we had brought.
Another example I read about was Missy the German Shepherd. Similar to Bailey, Missy had hurt paws and was refusing to walk, and her owners made the decision to abandon her on the trail because night was coming and they were running out of supplies. Fortunately, Missy was saved, but only after multiple dangerous attempts, a long strenuous hike, and the help of a team of experienced hikers, showing injured dogs can create a situation that is dangerous for everyone involved.
People need to take precautions when they hike with their dogs, including a first-aid kit. Here is a minimal first aid kit you can take with you when you hike:
● Athletic tape
Watch this video on one way to wrap your dog’s paws if they get injured in the wilderness. **Take your dog to a vet once you get back for proper treatment!**
Please see my website, PawsBeforeYouGo.wordpress.com for more details on what items to bring and how to use them.
If the hike becomes unsuitable, it’s best to turn around before you run into a problem. The most important thing is to be observant of your dog and your surroundings. You should look out for:
● Sharp rocks
● Steep inclines
● Hot ground
● Any terrain you find difficult to hike
● Rushing water
● Snakes, bears, and other wildlife
Be sure to observe your dog as well, watching for limping, exhaustion, constantly lying down, or anything that may indicate your dog cannot complete the hike. You should check your dog’s paw pads occasionally for cuts or tears; This is the most common injury I’ve heard of that cause dogs to refuse to complete a hike.
Don’t be one of the hundreds of dangerous, expensive rescue operations that occur in Los Angeles each year: enjoy the trails safely with your fuzzy friends!
Good Luck on your outdoor adventures with your dogs!
Bio for Dagny Stahl
Dagny Stahl is an Ambassador Girl Scout currently working on her Gold Award. A high-school student who loves hiking, backpacking, and camping with her dogs, she wants to help others enjoy the trail safely with their furry friends.
Follow Dagny Stahl and Paws Before You Go at this website:
Website: Paws Before You Go
Thank you to Dagny Stahl for all her work to put this post, website and her initiative together. Most people don’t realize how many injuries a dog can sustain while out on a hike or an adventure walk. Be safe, read the blog, watch the video, and take the quiz!!
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