River’s 1st Camping Trip | Adirondacks | New York

Our camping trip this year was supposed to be pet free. But, Surprise, here’s a dog into your life.

We lost our dog Brynn and amidst our grieving the perfect opportunity to add a dog that will hopefully grow up into the perfect outdoor adventure dog fell into our laps. And when it comes to dogs, so often, we take those opportunities that just show up out of nowhere and bring a new dog into our home.

River was just a young puppy when we adopted her. She wasn’t even old enough to be fully vaccinated. By the time we went on vacation she wasn’t going to be old enough to be boarded at the kennel we love. So, our dog less vacation now was going to include a dog.

We have camped with our other dogs in the past, but we have never camped with a dog this young. Our other dogs were old enough that their behavior patterns were pretty predictable and we had a good idea how they would behave during our trip. River was goin to be a completely different story.

River at camp in her dog bed

Taking a young pup on vacation?

As vacation approached River was still young enough that we were taking her outside on leash to go potty to avoid accidents in the house. River was still working on crate training. She slept in her kennel at night, but would sill wake up 1 or 2 times during the night needing to go outside to potty. Or as she got older waking up and just wanting to play and being loud and barking in the middle of the night.

We were really unsure how this was going to play out during camping. On the bright side, for the most part she was going to be outside so having an “accident” wasn’t really going to be too much of an issue. We were more worried about how things would go at night. How noisy would she be. Would she need to get up repeatedly in the middle of the night to potty. Would she have accidents in the tent while we were sleeping. We really didn’t want to be an inconvenience to our neighbors at the campground and be those people with a loud, obnoxious, unruly dog.

River eating at camp

Adjusting to camping

River did remarkably well on this front. She adjusted well to life at the campgrounds. Maybe too well. By the end we were a little worried that it might have undone all the hard work we had all done on potty training her at home. She only had one accident in the tent and that was on one of the first nights she was at camp and was right when she was going to bed, so might have been due to excitement about going into the tent. But other than that she had few problems needing to go potty in the middle of the night. I think the humans got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom more than River did. And she was also very well behaved at camp.

She didn’t make noise in the middle of the night while people were sleeping. She was even mostly quiet during the day when we were at camp. River kept herself busy playing with her toys and sticks and rocks. She would occasionally bark at the random camper passing by our campsite particularly at night, but she was really so much more well behaved than we could have hoped for especially for such a young dog. She may have been the most well behaved dog we have ever taken camping. Fingers crossed that trend continues.

River sitting atop Cascade Mountain

River goes hiking

River was also so young she couldn’t reliably handle a 1 mile walk and here we are planning to take her to the Adirondacks to climb mountains. We would take her on walks to help her get used to it and to build up her stamina but it was often slow going. We bought a backpack specifically designed for carrying dogs just in case she was not up to hiking, but we never even had to use it.

Once again River did much better than we expected. She loved hiking. She had more energy and enthusiasm for hiking than she did for any other activity we did with her. There are always obstacles to overcome with a dog who is new to hiking. Like making sure both human and dog are on the same page when it comes to best route to take and which way to go around an obstacle and other assorted route finding concerns. And there is trying to convince your dog that they don’t actually need to stop and smell literally every patch of dirt, grass, rocks, or trees that they come across. Hiking can be slow going enough without having to wait extra time for your dog to sniff out every scent possible. But as the hiking went on the better she became at all of these things.

River looking out over the scenery from the summit of Cascade Mountain

Everything is brand new

River being such a young pup this trip had to be such an overwhelming experience for her. Almost every single experience was literally a first for her. First time in a tent. First hike. First farmers markets. First time eating out on the patio of a restaurant. First time getting stuck out I the rain.

Trying to lure River into the water with a toy and she sits on the shore trying to catch it without getting in the water

River has not had much experience with water prior to this trip. But, what we learned during this trip is that she is not much of a fan. She experienced almost every kind of water she could and for the most part did not want to have much to do with it. Lakes, not really a fan. We took River to Lake George and there was an area along the beach where everyone was playing with their dogs. All the dogs were out in the water having fun playing with their humans. River had no interest in any of that. She loves sticks but will barely go a step or two into the water to get a stick we tossed for her. The most she would do was dig a hole in the wet sand, watch it fill with water, and then drink it. On our hikes she mostly avoided all puddles and mud. Streams and waterfalls, no thanks. And then there was her arch enemy.


Worst of all was the rain. River did not like going out in the rain at home. The one plus side of a drought was that wasn’t an issue. But we did have a few rainy times during our trip. On one particular occasion we were at Lake Placid. The forecast was calling for rain so we were prepared with raincoats. My wife had stopped to get something to eat at a restaurant, so I was taking River for a walk around town before meeting back up with her. We were standing down by the lake and it started to rain. I zipped up my raincoat and put my hood on. Thinking it would be no big deal, it’s just a little rain, we can continue to walk around.

But River strongly disagreed with that sentiment. River started barking and whining and making all sorts of hilarious sounds at the onset of being rained on. She was not having it. I literally had to seek shelter from the rain to get her to quiet down and stop throwing a tantrum. Once I found a roof to sand under, River was content. I am happy to report that after returning home from our trip the drought has broken for now and we are experiencing a lot of rain. So, River has become quite well acquainted with have water fall on her from above at this point. She doesn’t always want to go out in it, but for the most part she is fine with it. She definitely doesn’t sit outside and bark and squeal and carry on if it is raining anymore.

River chewing one of the many sticks she scavenged from the campsite

Be like a dog

As is typical of a dog, I think some of River’s most joyous moments were the simple moments. The time we spent just relaxing at our campsite was the time River really seemed to enjoy herself the most. She made the most of every moment at camp. Finding sticks to chew. Digging up rocks. And running around playing with all the toys we had at camp for her. She even spent time sitting with us in our camp chairs and our hammocks. Then there are the times River tired herself out and conked out all on her own completely at peace and sleeping.

River not making the most of her dog bed

I need to learn to be more like my dog and enjoy the simple times. Just relax and be in the moment. Find joy just being in the moment even if I am not “doing” anything.

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