Happiness is a warm puppy. ~Charles M. Schulz (Snoopy’s Dad)
By golly it certainly is!
Everyone warned me about getting a puppy, “It will change your life! You won’t be able to do all the things you once did. Raising a puppy is very hard. You’ll be glued to your house for the next 6 months. It is unsafe to take your puppy anywhere until he’s had all of his shots!”
And to that I say, “It really isn’t that hard. And screw that, I am taking him everywhere!”
I grew up in the country with lots of wide-open space and the best dogs ever and I promised myself that I would never get a dog until I had a lot of space. Well than life happened as it often does and I found myself homeless, sad, and lost – which it turns out is the best time to get a dog!
Two days after receiving the keys to my new apartment, I welcomed baby Kangaroo dog into my life. I had no bed, nowhere to sit, no forks, not much of anything, but I had a little adorable face watching my every move.
From the beginning, I took him everywhere and had him meet as many people as possible. I found a great vet that told me the risks of not properly socializing a dog are much greater than the risks of Parvo and other diseases. She encouraged me to take him everywhere (except dog parks) and to not hold him back one bit. “He’ll tell you what and how much he can do – you just need to listen,” she said.
At 10 weeks old, I took him on his first camping trip to the San Rafael Swell. He loved it to say the least. He discovered sand, cactus, redrock cliffs and so many different texture of rocks and sticks. He learned that a 3-hour car ride in his crate takes him to a happy place and that sleeping in a tent is just like one giant comfy crate.
Roo rocked puppy school later that week when he was introduced to ladders and tents and hula hoops. Other puppies hesitantly approached the different surfaces while Roo crashed through all the obstacles like a rabid dog.
At 12 weeks, I felt it a crime to not take him back to the desert where he can run and play and just feel free. Roo returned to the desert and knew exactly what to do. He dug in the sand, chomped on Juniper sticks, explored the perimeter of our campsite never getting out of my eyesight, and hopped into the tent all by himself when he needed a rest.
We took him for hikes into slot canyons, through sandy washes, and atop a butte for the sunset to which the Internets say absolutely NO HIKING until at least 6 months to a year. We took plenty of breaks, carried him every so often until he whined and squirmed to get back onto the ground, and rewarded him often with turkey snacks and salmon treats. I listened to him and watched him carefully and never forced him to do a thing.
At 13 weeks, Roo eagerly hops into the car, does pretty darn well with basic obedience commands, and gives so much love and happiness to everyone he meets.
I can’t claim that I know anything about training the ultimate trail puppy, but what I can say is the Internets are wrong when they say to not take your puppy camping or hiking or pretty much anywhere until they are six months old.
My parents took me camping for the first time when I was two months old and instilled a sense of adventure and love for the outdoors in me from the very beginning. I am just trying to do the same for Kangaroo Dog while also keeping him safe, healthy, and happy.