I’ve always been a dog person, but no animal has ever captivated me like Luna. A friend gave her to me after college when I was going through a hard time, and the bond was instant. She has a pack mentality and always has to know where I am, so I began taking her with me on road trips around the Sierra, Cascades, and Canadian Rockies.
She’s pretty low-maintenance and happiest when we’re going somewhere for a hike or camping. I’ll park the car and open the door, and she immediately jumps out, ready to explore. But even if Luna’s off-leash, she stays by my side as we seek out hidden waterfalls and climb hard-to-reach peaks. When I get lost, I let her lead the way; when I’m tired, she uses body language to remind me to slow down.
Once, I was getting ready to go back into the truck after a rainy hike at Coquihalla Summit in B.C. when Luna decided to roll in dead salmon. I was annoyed as I rinsed her off in the freezing river, and then suddenly the light broke through the clouds, shining on everything that had just been kissed by the rain. It was as if she knew I wouldn’t want to miss capturing this moment. It was pure instinct, and it was perfect.
Alain’s advice for hitting the road with your pooch
GEAR: If car rides make your dog nervous, bring a favorite toy or outfit her with an anxiety-quelling thunder jacket ().
FIND: Many national parks, restaurants, and hotels don’t allow dogs. To learn where your pup is welcome, check Bring Fido ().
GO: Start with a two-hour excursion close to home and progress from there. If your dog is trailing behind, she may be tired or scared.