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Our dog friends are part of our family, and welove them. Bringing a dog to a gathering carries both special joyand extra responsibility. In many ways, dogs are like smallchildren, and need as much attention and care as children do. Ifyou are able to leave them at home, your gathering will be morespontaneous and worry-free, and your dogs will be much safer.

If you do decide to bring them,attachwaterproof I.D. tags totheir collars with their names, your name, where you are camped,and your home phone number so you can be reunited if you becomeseparated. Be sure they are current on all their vaccinations because there will be many dogsthere, and contagious illness spreads quickly.

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Be sensitive to your dogs' physical and emotional needs. Offer themfood and water often. Make sure shade is available. Even though youare busy, don't forget to give them attention throughout the day.Be patient with them. They're in an unfamiliar environment, and itmay be exciting or confusing. It may take them awhile to learn what"Out of the Kitchen!" means, and you'd probably rather teach themyour way rather than have someone else teach them.

Be considerate of others. Teach your dogsgood manners. When coming to acircle, ask them to lie quietly beside or behind you. Keep them outof kitchens, compost pits, and shitters. Don't let them fight withother dogs. Females in heat can cause serious problems, so leavethem at home if at all possible. Spaying or neutering your dogs isalways a responsible thing to do, and will spare you much hassle ina gathering situation.

Be environmentallyaware. Keep dogs out of water sources and other sensitiveareas. Pick up their poop, drop it in a shitter, and cover it up,just as you would your own. Remember that dogs are essentially packanimals. When they get together in the freedom of the open woods,they love to run. It's not a good idea to let them do it. They canharm wildlife or get into serious trouble by chasing sheep andcattle. Tying a dog in camp for long periods of time can be unfairboth to your neighbors and to your dog. Keep your dog at your side- on a leash if necessary.

As with so many other things at the gathering,respect is the key: respect foryour own needs, respect for your neighbors' needs, and respect foryour dog's needs. We can have it all. It just takes some attentionto detail.

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