A Dog-Gone Great Getaway

April 6, 2012 (Updated April 6, 2012)

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

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.