Oh June 20, the date many of us look forward to after a long snowy winter in Somerset County. The day that summer officially begins, the hot sun starts to shine brightly and the pool water feels so refreshing. The day when kids trade in their iPads for swim goggles and pool noodles and the dog breathes a sigh of relieve that he is no longer obligated to sit through another virtual learning session but can go outside and run and swim alongside the kids. The day when mom and dad pull together the last details before setting off for their summer vacation.
If you’re a camper, summer vacation usually includes a few weeks spent at Hickory Hollow Campground, the perfect vacation spot for kicking back and relaxing, swimming, hiking and enjoying the summer sunshine and often times a good shade tree. This summer, when you’re planning those fun adventures, remember to include your furry friends too. The reasons to bring your pet along with you camping far outweighs leaving them behind. Your dog is part of the family and if left at home, can sometimes be a source of distraction as your mind drifts back home wondering how “Lucky” is doing. Pets can also keep your camping kids entertained as you catch an hour of quiet time under that shade tree or a few minutes catching up with old friends. Dogs are great for helping to keep the campsite free from fallen hotdogs and graham crackers, and maybe that golden retriever even helps you gather a few fire sticks to start that campfire. You will be able to catch those beautiful sunrises a lot easier if your dog is camping with you, and probably guaranteed a kiss in the morning, or a late night snuggle to warm you up on those chilly evenings as well.
Dogs and cats can be great companions, but unfortunately, not every dog will be a great camper so please consider the following when deciding if you should bring “Barkley” to camp or not. Is your dog a yapper? Remember no-one wants to be woken up by someone else’s barking dog when they are enjoying some down time. Does your dog seem overly protective or aggressive around other dogs, kids or people? Please remember that the campground is full of many little ones, new faces, sounds, and smells so if you have to muzzle your dog to ensure everyone’s safety, maybe leave “Killer” at home this time. Hickory Hollow does have a leash requirement, but will your dog come back when called if he got off the leash? The mountains surrounding the campground are beautiful, but can be very vast and scary for “Bullet” the boxer who is trying hard to get away from unfamiliar activity. We don’t want to have to call Somerset County Search and Rescue to locate our missing friends because of not preparing properly for the animal’s safety. Dogs left unattended in a RV can be very troublesome for neighboring campers as well, with excessive barking and no one knowing if the pet is in danger or just voicing his dislike of being left alone. If your dog isn’t used to being left alone or crated, and you have a ton of activities scheduled that doesn’t include “Fido” perhaps a dog sitter would work better while you’re away from the campground.
July 4th is right around the corner and dogs and fireworks don’t usually mix, so keep this in mind when camping over the holiday. Noise phobia is a fairly common fear in dogs and unpredictable noises like fireworks, thunderstorms, loud laughter, and children screaming can truly frighten them as can bright displays of light from campfires and sparklers. Firework displays around the local area are scheduled to be set off on July 2,3, and 4th from different venues but the sound may carry into the campground on either of those days. Please also remember that locals have been known to set fireworks off at random times during the holiday week, so please have your pet secured at all times for his own safety. Never pull a dog out or try to force him closer to the fireworks if they appear frightened and allow them to hide in their crate or under a bed for comfort. Try to drown out the noise from the fireworks by turning up a radio, keeping your RV windows closed, and turning on a generator or air conditioner to help block out the sound. Noise blocking earmuffs are also available for dogs to help combat the overabundance of noise especially around July 4th.
Noise is not the only safety concern when camping with your pet. For safety reasons, it’s best to never leave your pet unsupervised at the campsite. Keep them away from hazards such as food which is too readily available on the picnic table for them to snatch, hot grills and hot food that they may pick up quickly, campfires and hot coals, lawnmowers, and golf carts. A fenced in dog area, located behind the office, is available at the campground for your dog’s enjoyment to run off leash. Please follow good dog etiquette and dispose properly of all dog waste promptly and be courteous of other dogs and owners while enjoying the enclosure. Lake Ann is an attractive component of Hickory Hollow and dogs have been known to take a dip or two in the refreshing water or chase one of the geese.
When traveling with your pet, make sure you have a checklist of those essentials to bring along. A non- breakable food and water dish, medications including flea and tick preventatives, a reflective leash for night walks, pet friendly bug repellant, tick removal tools, first aid kit, dog brush, and soft clean bedding for inside the RV or tent. Never leash a dog outside during the night, they may protect you, but who is going to protect them from the night critters.
Camping with your dog is a great way to get away from it all and bond with your best buddy. Camping can introduce your dog to many activities that will keep them healthy and mentally stimulated while developing their social skills and build on the relationship you already share as best friends. “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton