Our beach trips normally start by early April, but the weather has not been on our side lately. During this year’s wintry and rainy spring, we managed to find one nice day for a lake trip. The prep work for the trip was a reminder of just how much time I spend preparing for my nearly daily lake trips in the summer – without dogs it’s not so bad. At least one dog goes 3-4 days per week, and 2-3 dogs would go last summer if both of us were taking them.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, coverup, flip flops, ID, keys, human and dog towels, long leads, water they’ll refuse to drink instead of the lake water, collapsible bowl, a toy or two, potty bags, training treats, a bag to keep phones dry, car harnesses, now-broken swimming/running harness, tie out stake if 1 person trip without a large tree nearby, Gambit’s favorite stick, and oh wait, let’s make sure no one had topical preventatives in the last 24 hours and that there’s still a towel to cover the car seat.
Now dogs, we couldn’t hide the getting-ready-for-beach process since the beach bag contents change depending on the number of dogs and humans making the trip, but please don’t get overexcited. Drive to the beach, wait for everyone to stop being noisy so they can get out of the car, grab a couple more bags from the dog walking station because all of ours are at the bottom of the bag, lug a heavy, overstuffed bag or two of gear down a forested walking trail while the dogs go wild, do as much training on loose leash walking as possible before shoulder starts to hurt, inevitable stops to clean up after the dogs, peering down favorite paths to the lake to make sure other dogs aren’t hanging out there, discovering that the lake finally being full after a year of docks sitting on dry ground means that all of last summer’s favorite beaches are gone rather than shrunken and the current beaches’ paths are overgrown.
Securing dogs so long leads can be unraveled, sort out long leads, stash coverups, tether at least one lead, pour dog water, wait for dogs to behave well enough to get beach-enjoying privileges, race for the water, jumping incoming leads, playing fetch, cooling off in the water with the dogs, high tailing it out because a 5 minute isolated thunderstorm is about to start.
Just thinking about it makes me exhausted. We persist with this routine because that fun with the dogs is absolutely worth it. Everyone goes home tired and happy after a couple hours – unlike a one person or one person + one dog trip, the prep time for bigger trips mean that a 30 minute lake trip doesn’t make too much sense.
But what if, somehow, we could make the prep time shorter, haul less stuff, and calm the dogs down all at once? This is our last summer on the lake, and our lake days will end in early August instead of late September. Clearly, we need to make the most of it!
We’ll make our first test run soon, but the boys got a new tool to help us reach all of those goals. What do you think they got?