As spring season kicks into gear, chances are you’ve got a canine best friend who loves to get outdoors too…for hiking, camping and travel across Oregon. This is the story of a man who has explored the entire state with his trusty four-year-old sheltie.

Curt Smith and his best friend, Chase, explore the Oregon outdoors together. In fact, Curt has made a point of traveling with his four-year-old sheltie ever since the dog was a pup.

“If I don’t travel with him, I feel like I left somebody important behind,” noted the lifelong Oregonian.

The two see the state together and Curt has the photos to prove it. Smith especially enjoys Oregon State Parks like Stub Stewart State Park that provide off leash areas so Chase can do what he loves most.

“He loves to run and just loves people, loves to meet people and he knows that he’s posing for pictures too – don’t know how he’s figured that out.”

The two are inseparable for sure and share their love of the outdoors when they go indoors too. You see, Chase is a certified “therapy dog” and he loves to make house calls.

He visits hospice and senior centers each Sunday and helps brighten someone’s day.

He’s been doing it since he was 16-months old and it’s easy to see that Chase’s visits make a difference to folks who rarely get outdoors.

“He knows he’s doing something and he just wants to make their lives better for that moment,” noted Smith.

Making other “lives better” may be one of the reasons Chase was made first choice for new recognition. This spring, Chase is the cover shot and first-ever Oregon dog selected for the newest edition of the American Automobile Association’s annual “Pet Book.”

It’s a guide to pet friendly hotels, campgrounds and activities across the country. The text includes animal hospitals, dog parks and pet-accessible properties.

Like Stub Stewart State Park, where pets are welcome on the trails and in the campground and where Park Ranger Steve Kruger said 21 state parks offer yurt or cabin rentals that allow the family pet.

Kruger explained that 14 state parks also offer off-leash areas where your dog can run free. But there are pet rules, it’s not a free for all.

Rules include keeping your dog on a six-foot leash across the campgrounds, day use picnic areas and hiking trails. In addition, there’s a pack it in – pack it out dog waste policy. It’s important to clean up after your dog.

“We want to have people bring their family with them – human or pet – and so we make sure we have these rules in place will create a safe environment for everyone to enjoy it,” said Kruger.

Dr Bob Bullard is a Washington County veterinarian who said simple preparation before you travel with your pet can save headaches, even heartache, when vacation time gets underway.

He introduced five year old golden retriever named “Asti,” and explained that he always carries her photo identification when they travel.

“Photo I-D is a cool idea because if they get lost, what do you do? If you carry your pet’s paperwork with a photo and the microchip number, you can save lots of time as the search gets underway.”

Bullard always carries a pet first aid kit when he travels too. While his supplies are extensive and include many medications most people wouldn’t have access to, anyone can assemble a simple kit inside a stuff sack.

Be sure to carry any pet prescriptions and a handful of emergency bandages, eye drops and other medications for nausea or diarrhea.

Bullard also recommends pet owners carry a critical item with them when they’re on vacation with their pet – a leash.

“Leashes save lives! It’s that simple,” noted Bullard. “You may have the best trained dog in the world but your dog will see things in the campground or down the trail that she’s never seen before. If you want to keep her away from that porcupine or skunk, it sure is nice to whip out a leash that doesn’t take any room in your pocket and now you’ve got control over your dog.”

Finally, consider the way your dog travels with you in the car.

Asti has been crate trained since a pup according to Bullard. He explained that important because: “It protects her from injury and protects other people in the car if an accident happens. A lot safer arrangement.”

Back out at Stub Stewart State Park, Curt Smith said that regardless of where or how you choose to go, the important thing is to take your best friend along and not leave him home alone.

“We accept them into our homes…we understand them by their body language and they understand us the same way – we want that with us all the time – that unconditional love; it’s magical!”

Editor’s Note: Discover how fun traveling with your pets can be in Oregon with these pet friendly trip ideas.

About the Author: Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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In this Grant’s Getaway

These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Barbara Ballantine says…

    Hi Grant. I loved your article. It was informative but fun as well. Your descriptive:
    “He loves to run and just loves people, loves to meet people…”
    This is my Zoe. I take her with me everywhere but our daily trips to our local dog/hiking park is where I see our commonality because people are always telling me,”What a happy dog!”
    Also appreciated your reference to what Curt Smith said, that regardless of where or how you choose to go, the important thing is to take your best friend along and not leave him home alone.
    It is so true how they offer that unconditional love. I have just been recovering from illness and she is so patient and understanding of me. Here’s a question for you though…
    I have an SUV and I have to tell you that crate or no crate….it stinks bad when she’s been in water or thru the muddy hikes. I give Zoe a bath when we get home from the dog park..but I can’t scrub down the inside of the car a daily basis just to have her stink it up again…. Any tips?

    Thanks for your story.

    Barbara

    Written on April 6th, 2012 / Flag this Comment
  2. Grant McOmie says…

    Hi Barbara -

    Thanks for watching and thanks for taking time to write.

    I can tell you what I do with our two springer spaniels who have boundless energy – even at 3 1/2 – and run – in the grass, in the mud and swim in a pond – nearly every day.

    I have used a kennel crate since the girls were pups and that helps confine all the mud and yes, the smell – inside the plastic crate and not in the carpet or upholstery of my truck or jeep.

    When we return home it’s bath time – not only for the girls – but for the crate. I hose the crate out in no time and it dries overnight so we’re ready to go the next day.

    My friends with dogs do much the same, but a few allow the dogs free rein in the vehicle and apparently have no problem with the mud or water in their rigs as well.

    Now, that’s not to say the girls are crated in my rig all the times – if there are errands or a short drive around town they ride in the vehicle; usually in the back seat.

    Curt Smith uses a harness that is set-up inside his vehicle for Chase. The harness slid on a strap and allowed Chase to safely ride next to Curt or in the back seat. He swears by it! I’ve not used one before, but it looked pretty slick.

    Not sure how that would work for two dogs.

    Hope this helps.

    Feel free to let me know if you’ve other questions about our stories.

    Thanks again,
    Grant

    Written on April 7th, 2012 / Flag this Comment

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