Category Archives: Pets

Dog Parks Are Not A Solution

Dogs at large is in the news again in Park City and it’s making me sooo angry. The shortsightedness of all involved is nauseating. More dog parks- but, hey, this new one will be larger- is not the solution. Obviously the haters will continue to hate and make off-leash life irritating for pet lovers. Adding yet another space for poorly behaved dogs to run amuck while irresponsible owners turn a blind eye is NOT the answer.

The Park City Council in response to whiners complaining about the “state” of the Round Valley area is to take a huge swatch of land and put a giant fence around it. Can NO ONE see that the reason the dog parks are underutilized and there are a constant parade of pooches on our trails is because we actually want to BE with our dogs?? BE as in run, bike, snowshoe, hike, ski with them. Not stand around or sit on a bench while dogs chase other dogs or tennis balls for 15 minutes. Dog Parks

Photo by Whitney Lewis Photography

I’m quite satisfied with Millcreek Canyon offering off and on leash days. This gives those who cringe around dogs the confidence to venture forth on ‘even’ days knowing they won’t be molested by a happy, tongue-lolling lab and those of us who need the exercise, the ability to schedule days when we know animal control won’t harsh our outdoor buzz.

Dog Parks

The current Summit County leash laws maintain that dogs must be on-leash at all times unless in a dog park or the new Run Amok gated trail. There goes biking or skiing with your dog. Does your dog like to paddle around in ponds or chase bubbles in a stream? Can’t legally do that in Park City without dragging you around by the leash. I feel fortunate that my dog is highly trained and responds to commands off leash. There’s a little known clause in our leash laws that allow eCollars. These are considered a leash so long as you carry a hard tether with you at all times. I have one on Takoda whenever we’re at play.

But don’t just run out to grab one of these babies and call it good. You need to know how to use a shock collar (the high-end ones have a ‘pager’ button that vibrates if you are uncomfortable with the short zaps) and you need a dog that is responsive to it. I work with an amazing trainer at Live Oak Dog Obedience that whole-heartedly believes in the usefulness of a “shock collar” when outdoors and in public. There’s no better way to get your pet’s attention. You can yank on a collar all you want but once your dog zeroes in on another dog or critter you’re more likely to strangle him than steer him away. An eCollar is a wondrous tool if used correctly.

Top Reasons To Hate Dog Parks

Aggressive dogs, ill-behaved children chasing dogs, poop piles, diseases, lame people, boring landscape.

I suppose a dog park serves a purpose if you own an unruly dog that has no manners in public and you still need them to run because you don’t have a backyard or time to train him. Actually, it gives dog owners an excuse not to train their animals. There has not been a single time I’ve been in a dog park that there wasn’t some fight that broke out. Oh, and I love it when owners say, “That’s just dogs being dogs, they’re just positioning-determining dominance.” Oh, hell no. My dog will fight back if he’s attacked and it’s not ok. I don’t want him torn to shreds nor do I want to pay your vet bills if my dog wins. On trail, he’s rarely met by an aggressive dog because owners who hike offleash usually (can’t say always because there’s always that ‘one’ who makes the rest of us look bad) trust their dogs to behave; and so we can trust them too. I personally have learned my dog’s cues and know when to step in and snap on the leash.

Dog Parks

Keep in mind that there are laws in place that go above anything animal control does. An owner is 100 percent responsible for problems their dog may cause. If you don’t want your dog executed or slapped with a giant medical bill you’re going to make sure she behaves. Why do we have to grant Big Brother license to interfere further? There is no reason to station police and animal control at trail heads, on trails themselves and at parks just to accost pet owners. I was tossing a Frisbee for Takoda on a snow-covered field at a local (empty) park when no sooner had he brought back the second throw when a control van rolled up, an officer jumped out with ticket clipboard in hand, and brandishing an accusatory demeanor. Takoda trotted lovingly over to him as I displayed the eCollar remote around my neck. He still reached down and felt for the actual collar just to be sure. Really? There wasn’t a single soul in sight. It was 9 a.m. on a snowy Tuesday morning when kids are in school and everyone else is at work with their heaters roaring. Don’t you have someplace better to be? Wouldn’t a driveby suffice in this instance? This is the current (hostile) state of affairs in Park City.

At one point in this three-year battle, pet owners proposed a type of licensing where we would run our dog through a series of obedience tests (or maybe they use the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen certification process) to prove how great we already know they are and the city would grant off-leash rights to dogs who pass; revoking a license if an issue arises with that dog. What a killer idea!! Where did that one go? There are enough dog parks for the dogs who can’t pass. And there are plenty of local trainers who can help them pass if they really cared. It’s time to stop penalizing good dogs and forcing them into quarantines decorated to look like freedom.

Off Leash Solutions-

Dog ParksRuffwear Quick Draw– Let him carry his own leash. The Quick Draw is the ideal solution to hands-free leashing. He carries his own! The short leash attaches and wraps around your dog’s collar. Pull the tab for quick release from the Velcro and voile. It also has reflective striping for added attention in the dark. $19.95.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Doggy First Aid

My dog is Mighty Dog. The dog before him was Mighty Dog. Takoda’s predecessor lived to 16 without seeing more than swollen paws from running her heart out on single track; can you blame me if for some blond reason I forget dogs are just as human as we are. They get sick, they tear tendons, they succumb to cancer. Big stuff.


I hear stories. Dogs bitten by rattlesnakes, blowing out knees jumping from moving vehicles, waking up one day with lymphoma. There are much less traumatic- but still consequential- tales as well. Eating poisonous mushrooms, ripping open a paw pad, suffering hypothermia. These things are avoidable or at least treatable and they can definitely happen to your Mighty Dog. Just because you’ve gotten lucky doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you.

It’s time to study up. I piled into the classroom at the Utah Emergency Medical Training Council in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Pet First Aid and CPR class. The one-day course is designed to help pet owners provide temporary, urgent care to pets until they can get to a vet; but what it really does is teach you just enough to freak you out about future injuries. Ignorance is bliss. It’s stupid but it sure was nice assuming my dog was impervious to harm.

The evening opened with a discussion and hands-on demo of how to take your pet’s vitals via their pulse in their leg ‘pit’, pants per minute and body temperature. Once you’ve got that as a baseline and saved to your pet first aid kit you can compare them in a stressed situation to determine if they are in trouble.

We practiced on the live, class cat and a resusci-rover but it would have been sweet to have our own animals with us, thereby completing the class with the bonus of having our own personal vitals confirmed by a more-experienced EMT.

We talked about personal safety when approaching an injured pet and how to minimize risks by creating a make-shift muzzle from a cloth or rope. We covered a wide array of pet emergencies including bleeding and bite wounds, choking, burns, poisoning, and trauma, and finished out the night learning doggy and kitty CPR. Did you know that to administer CPR correctly (and who would have thought a dog could even be given CPR) you have to break his ribs?! It’s either that or let him die the tech told me.  Gulp.

The biggest concerns (other than ticks and sore paws) when you are outdoors with your dog, however, are heatstroke and hypothermia. If your pooch has rapid panting, drooling, vomiting or collapses, she needs shade and cool wet towels to bring her temperature down. If he’s shivering, drowsy, and has a weak pulse, he needs warm blankets and hot water bottles to his torso.

Finally, it’s always a smart move to carry a pet-specific first aid kit in your pack (or your car if you don’t want the weight). You can create your own with a list like this one and stuff it in a Granite Gear Air Zipddity:
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Or make life easier by grabbing something basic like the Trail Dog Kit< from Adventure Medical. It’ll cover immediate cuts or paw injuries that might happen on a hike with dressings, bandages and a splinter/tick remover.

AMK Trail Dog_LT

Bark At The Basin Brings Best Friends To The Hill

We should all grab the leash and regularly hit the trails with Fido but judging from the robust turnout at this weekend’s Bark at the Basin at Snowbasin we need a tad more nudging.

I get that people need events to motivate them. You want to trim down and get in shape by running, you look for marathons to enter and train for. I can’t seem to kayak unless I hear of a Whitewater Club meetup. A dog, however, needs no excuse. Bark at the Basin, therefore, was more for us than them.

Canines of all shapes, sizes and breeds eagerly bounded around for a gorgeous day in the mountains. What’s not to love about cool breezes, fresh air, gourmet treats, exercise and new butts to sniff?

The $25 registration fee benefitted Best Friends Animal Society and all participants collected a super cool T-shirt modeled after one of the original Snowbasin Resort logos, a water bowl with a fresh-baked dog biscuit that smelled good enough for human consumption and a bar of soap shaped like a dinosaur (Sinclair Oil’s mascot). There were only a smattering of loyal sponsors at the inaugural event but no matter. The true attraction was the shaded singletrack loop to the north of the resort. Twice around made it a 5k and the water buckets at the end added the perfect cooldown.

The bands for Snowbasin’s Sunday Blues, Brews and BBQ didn’t start playing until after 2 p.m. so we made a day of it, Takoda and I. This was my first visit of the summer and as I sipped on a homemade blackberry lemonade ‘shaker’ I wondered what took me so long. Snowbasin is killer day trip to beat the heat of Ogden and Salt Lake Valley’s. They have loads of dog friendly biking and hiking trails, disc golf, weekly live music and amazing food.

Perhaps you need an event to motivate you?

The Wildflower Trailfest for women bikers and runners is this Thursday. If you didn’t register early, however, the price is a bit steep- $100- but includes massages, dinner, raffle, and the event.

Other motivators:

July 31- Blue Moon Viewing. See the first Blue Moon in 3 years from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. at Needles Lodge. Gondola rides are free for season pass holders or $10 and food will be available. Telescopes will be provided by the Ogden Astronomical society.

Sunday Brunch at Needles, Midweek Bike Races on Wed., guided bike rides on Saturday and Blues, Brews and BBQ on Sundays.

Milkbone’s Top Destinations For You and Your Dog

If you’re planning a trip with your dog this summer but aren’t sure where to go, Milkbone and the Big Heart Pet Brands family is here to help. They’ve created a guide to the top 50 destinations for you and your pooch.

The list evolved by cross referencing online review sites with data on dog-friendly restaurants and hotels.

The only spot for Utah was Dinosaur National Monument (Maybell, Utah) at #44. Perhaps they were hurting for suggestions? Personally, the Manti-La Sal National Forest surrounding Moab is rocking for dogs. At DNM, pets can only hike on the Cold Desert Trail, Plug Hat Trail, Iron Springs Bench Overlook Trail and Echo Park Overlook Trail. They can’t go into the buildings, hiking trails within the monument, along the Green or Yampa Rivers, or in the monument’s backcountry.

But Moab’s extensive network of bike and hiking trails and backcountry terrain make for some awesome canine carousing year round. There are more than 75 pet-friendly lodging properties (but only about 10 hotels) and at least four patios where you can cool off with your dog. I appreciate the Silver Sage Inn. There’s a $10 pet fee and it’s not high-class, but it’s clean, they have free wifi, fridge, micro and coffee maker.

Here are Milkbone’s top 10. For the rest of the list, Click Here.

#1: The Original Dog Beach (San Diego, California) (50 Milk-Bone biscuits))
#2: SF Golden Gate Park (San Francisco, California) (49)
#3: Fort Tryon Park (New York City, New York) (48.5)
#4: Runyon Canyon (Los Angeles, California) (47)
#5: Acadia National Park (Mt. Desert Island, Maine) (46)
#6: Pike Place Market (Seattle, Washington) (45)
#7: Carmel (Carmel-by-the-Sea, California) (44.5)
#8: The Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina) (44)
#9: Central Park (New York City, New York) (43)
#10: Buckskin Joe Frontier Town (Cañon City, Colorado) (42.5)


If you see a patch of open space you need to make sure you know who it belongs to. Here’s a breakdown in a nutshell.

National Parks

In general, dogs in national parks can be “anywhere a car can go.” Basically that’s, roads and parking lots. They can also be in picnic areas and campgrounds. Some parks actually allow leashed pets on those short trails around the Visitor Center but you’ll need to check with the individual parks you’re visiting. In Canada, however, most national parks extremely dog-friendly.

National Monuments
Some allow dogs on most trails while others like Devil’s Tower or Cedar Breaks ban them entirely.

National Forests and National Grasslands
National forests open their arms to pet owners. Most every trail is accessible. Usually the land surrounds national parks so you can let him run after you’ve left him back to explore the excluded places.

National Recreation Areas
Humans and dogs, ATVs and mountain bikes; usually everyone is welcome. Check the boating rules, however. If the NRA is a lake, dogs may be restricted to beaches or picnic areas.

National Seashores

The rule is pretty much no dogs on trails but ok on the beach, year-round. National lakeshores, however, allow canine hikers on many trails.

National Wildlife Refuges
Leashed dog are usually ok.

National Historical Parks, National Trail Systems
Get out and explore a bit of American history with your dog. It’s all good. Just check before setting off on a multi-day adventure if you are crossing private lands to make sure your dog can legally join in.

Bureau of Land Management Lands
Those 262 million acres of “nothing” are “something” for dogs. He’ll adore you for the romps stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast.

Keep the Windows Up and The Doggy Down


“That’s so cute,” Sage laughed as we headed south on 700 East. “That dog looks like a sheep!” She was referring to the large fluffy head of a poodle mix that was straining its head out the back window and staring back at us. We laughed together yet what I thought about were all the warnings I’ve heard about letting dogs drool in the breeze.

I get it. I usually take my guy everywhere with me. But my AC works and he stays home if it looks like he’d have to stay in a parked car in the summer. But what if your AC is broke? What’s a good mom to do when Fido’s nose presses against the window? What you don’t do- according to several authorities- is roll it down. The law is unclear in Utah. Most people seem to think you can get a ticket for an unrestrained pet but I’ve scoured the web and can’t find a single Utah law to back that up.

Only a handful of states make it illegal to let dogs roam freely in moving vehicles and usually those laws actually apply to dogs in the back of pickups. New Jersey cops can pull you over and slap a $250-1000 ticket on you for disorderly conduct under animal-cruelty laws. Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut use distracted-driving laws to get you.

State Farm Insurance is using “The Pet Lifestyle Coach” Megan Blake to remind you that in the summer your pets are your kids. “Dogs, like children, should never be allowed to ride with their heads out the windows,” says Megan. “Flying debris, including bugs, could harm them, and their lungs or ears could be injured from high-speed wind. Unrestrained pets in cars pose serious potential risks, including becoming a major distraction to drivers; and unrestrained pets can easily be seriously injured, killed or even lost after being thrown from a car.

Good advice to keep the windows up as we head down the road or meet at the trail head. Here are a few top items for keeping your four-footed kids safe en route:

Ruffwear LoadUp Harness– Leash her down and feel confident she’ll stay put even in a crash. The harness attaches to existing seatbelts for a universal fit. Can also be used for short walks. $80

Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength HarnessWith five adjustments points, it’s easy to get a near custom fit for any dog. It can also be used as a no-pull walking harness. $36

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