Here at Wilderdog, we are ALL ABOUT getting out there with your pups. Nothing makes us happier than those peak-bagging, alpine-swimming, pow-slashing kind of days. But with these big adventures comes big responsibility, and we all need to do our part to become good stewards of our environment - taking care of our incredible lands and insisting others do the same so we have these special places for years to come.
Our (engineer/dog-mom/environmentalist) friend Amber is here with some guidelines for her two-legged and four-legged family members to abide by as stewards of their environment:
Hi, I'm Amber (@brunettetahoette), and I live with my little family of two (Wilder)dogs and one husband here in the Sierras. Holden is our Lab/Bernese Mountain Dog mix, and little sis Bella is a Bernese as well, so we like to call ourselves the Bernese Mountain Family! We relocated here a few years ago from the Appalachians when these mountain were calling our name.
Within a few months of moving we quickly realized the sapphire jewel of the sierras, Lake Tahoe, was our new taHOME. Each weekend we try to take the pups on at least one sierra summit and one alpine swim. The colder the water and the more snow we find, the better for the Bernese family! We love to plan adventure after adventure on the weekends, spanning Mammoth and Yosemite through Lassen Volcano National Park and Desolation Wilderness.
However, with big adventure comes big responsibility. While we enjoy our time in the mountains we do live in an area that brings in hundreds of thousands of tourists per year. Therefore we have come up with some practices that help us reduce ours and others footprint on the trails -
The Bernese Mountain Family’s Guide to Helping the Environment
Whether your doggo has a small footprint or big footprint (like ours), there are some easy ways for pet and pet owner to be better environmental stewards. We’re sure you’ve heard of “The 3 R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle but we can do more than that! Dig into the five ways we’re making a change:
1. Clean Up After Your Pet
We all know that humans have the dirty job of cleaning up after our pets - no one likes seeing piles of dog poop all over the trails. Dog-friendly spaces have also been known to be closed off to dogs from too much poop piling up - don't let that happen to your favorite places.
After our first two years in the Sierras we found that keeping the outdoor spaces beautiful and the waterways clean is a huge responsibility, whether in the backcountry or even just the city. Keep biodegradable poop bags on hand at all times - even in those most unlikely scenarios. Our fam attaches these bags via holder + carabiner to almost every backpack we have for our hikes and long walks. Taking these actions today will also help keep various areas pet friendly for years to come.
2. Practice Leave No Trace
Living near the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) means we have maps and literature galore educating us on outdoor ethics. From local parks to desolate wilderness, we encourage everyone to spread the word about some unspoken practices that have created the framework for human + dog adventures for decades. Study the concepts below and try to incorporate them in your nightly walks or weekend trips.
The Seven Leave No Trace Principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
3. Avoid Geotagging Those Hikes
Adventuring with our furry friends brings out the goodest boy and goodest girl photo ops that the world NEEDS to see. I mean, have you SEEN how clear the water is in Tahoe?!
This is a tough one, because we love sharing special outdoor spaces with others who will also enjoy it. But, sharing specific locations and tagging those photos on social media can have some unintended consequences. Not all hiking and walking areas are designed for heavy traffic and directing social media followers to a specific spot versus a general area can lead to excess littering and trail erosion. Try sharing general locations with furry and human friends instead (i.e. Lake Tahoe versus specific beach name).
4. Invest in Sustainable Brands
Not all gear is made equal! Every time a pet owner pays for goods they are supporting a company’s manufacturing process and business model. Careful considerations for raw materials, durability, and general practices of a company should be considered when shopping, even for our four legged friends! We all just want the best experience for our pets, but sometimes a necessary way to influence environmental change is with our dollar. Our Wilderdog gear is going 4 years strong and has endured farm life, harsh winters, and wet summers.
5. Clean Up After Others
We rarely leave the house without packing an empty garbage bag, and picking up other people’s garbage can actually be FUN for you and your pet!
While we encourage packing an extra large trash bag any day, this Saturday, August 17th we invite you to turn your pet’s walk into a clean up with your community. Regardless of your location, find your nearest waterway (could be a creek, lake, bay, beach, or trail!) and spread awareness for this virtual event using #TheBigClean2019. Post what you find online, and encourage others to join you.
We'll be hosting a beach clean up at Chimney Beach, here in Lake Tahoe this Saturday, August 17th. Find out more information here and we hope to see you there if you're local to Lake Tahoe!
We have been practicing these 5 simple changes for two years now, and we still have a long way to go to make sure they become second nature habits. But every time we get to enjoy a new hike or beach with our dogs, we are reminded just how worth it this journey is! Caring for 190 pounds of doggo can be a challenge for the planet, but with the right planning and gear these two fluffy butts can cover hundreds of miles of wilderness, burden free.