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The mountains called, and you answered. You splurged on a climbing rack, an inflatable paddleboard, and a tent that weighs less than a green chile breakfast burrito. Now you need a best friend with whom you can share it all.
1. Get yourself on an adoption list ASAP—it can take half a year or more to get your name called for your ideal dog by a reputable service such as Dumb Friends League. Things to consider: size (longer legs go farther), age (younger pups go harder), and majority breed (retrievers like water, hounds like squirrels, and herders like going and going).
2. Come up with a good name. Dog trainers often recommend two-syllable monikers beginning with consonants for more clarity when you’re yelling, which you will be when your pup sees a chipmunk and slips her collar at the climbing crag. Just beware of outdoor double entendres, such as Timber or Bear, that could confuse other adventurers.
3. Your floof doesn’t need a doggie daypack or doggles to get the most out of trail time. Instead, stock your pack with Fido-friendly first-aid supplies (such as tweezers to remove cactus spines), extra water and a collapsible bowl, and a roll of pickup bags. Get a leash that can lash to your belt and plan on using it—outside of dog parks, off-leash areas are rare on the Front Range.
4. Assemble a roster of trusted dog sitters and leave your pal at home whenever the forecast calls for extreme weather or if you’re traversing whitewater, avalanche terrain, or any place necessitating a rope and harness to travel safely. If you’re in a pinch, online pet-sitting services like rover.com can salvage an otherwise inflexible backcountry camping permit.
5. From rattlesnakes to cyanobacteria, the Rockies are filled with stuff that can send your pup to the ER. Create a line item in your budget (and strongly consider pet insurance) for veterinarian visits, so there’s no hesitation if your hiking partner has a run-in with harmful plants, wildlife, parasites, or yet another puddle of mystery-green water along the trail.