Friday, June 12, 2015

Camping with a Service Dog

So Isaac and I went camping recently.  A friend went with us.  It was my first time camping since I was a little kid and I felt better having another person with me the first time.  It went really well and Isaac and I will be trying it on our own at the end of this month.

What's camping with a service dog like?  Well, this was very much like camping with a pet dog, I imagine.  The campground was pet-friendly and in fact we saw a number of other dogs, most of which seemed to be well-behaved and under the control of their owners, to my delight.  Isaac did not wear his vest around the campground or when we were hiking.  The campground didn't charge any extra pet fees, so there was no need to mention to anyone there that he is a service dog.  He did pick up things for me at the campsite and do other tasks when needed, but it was kind of like when we are hanging out at home or on a hike at a park, when he is off duty unless I need his assistance.

It rained a lot the first day we were there and was very chilly that night.  In the morning, it had stopped raining but was damp and cold.  We decided to drive into town and get pancakes instead of trying to make breakfast at out campsite.  Isaac wore his vest in the restaurant.  And we stopped in a little country store for something and he wore his vest then.  But most of the trip, I think it was like camping with a nice, well-behaved pet dog.

Many, many campgrounds seem to be pet-friendly, including most state and national parks (or maybe all, but I haven't checked with every single one in the country).  That means Isaac doesn't have to be "on duty" while we camp.  If we stayed at a campground that didn't allow pets, I might feel the need to keep his vest on more, so that all the other campers didn't think I was sneaking my pet dog in.  I do that when staying at hotels that don't allow pets, put Isaac's vest on when we enter and leave the hotel, just so it's obvious he is a service dog.  And I would put his vest on if I was going into any areas of the park that don't allow pets, like an office or laundry room or gift shop or whatever.

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