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Ben got to experience a couple of different kinds of camping this week.

We spent two nights at state park campgrounds this week on our way to and from friends who live in upstate New York. We took Ben out overnight once before, but that was a tiny campground and we were the only people there. A busy public campground is a very different matter.

For the most part, Ben had a lot of fun, watching all the people, trying to figure out what everyone was doing. We tied him with his long line to the picnic table, so he could move around, but wouldn't disturb the neighbors or play in the fire pit. At night he settled into the back of the truck with us well. (We have a long bed p-u with a cap.) Our only problem was around 1 a.m. when a group drove in and set up camp next to us. Ben could hear them, see the lights flashing, but couldn't see them. He barked off and on until they settled down.

The next stay at a campground on our way back from New York he was really good. A family with little girls kept coming by to pet him every time they passed the site on the way to the bathroom and he loved that. It rained all evening, so we spent most of the time in the back of the truck except a short walk in the drizzle when we first arrived and again just before bed, but he was great. No midnight alarms, fortunately.

We also took him for his first backpacking trip this week. My husband and I maintain a short section of a trail in northern PA called the Mid-State Trail. We are responsible for clearing downed trees, cutting back branches and new growth and painting blazes to mark the way. Our section is very remote, and about 4 1/2 hours from our home. We didn't get there until mid-afternoon, so we decided to pack in, spend the night at the far end of our section and finish working our way out the next day. It started off badly: Jim slipped on a loose rock, dropping Ben's leash. Ben took off at a run. He could hear running water, and I think he decided to go check it out. He raced past me. I dropped my pack and took off after him. I was picturing him gone forever in that remote corner of the mountains. However, before I reached the creek, he came running back. I was so relieved! He was just happy and excited to be out in the woods after the long drive and needed to burn off some of his energy.

Ben loves hiking, but couldn't quite understand why we were walking so slowly and why we kept stopping to lop saplings and clear branches off the trail. After a while he decided to help us, by chewing branches for us or digging them out of the ground. Mostly he learned that when we dropped our packs and got out the saw, it was time for him to take a nap in the ferns. I was really happy he was sleeping when I spotted a rattlesnake asleep on the log I was trying to clear out! Jim swept the snake off the log and it slithered into the brush. I was a lot more nervous after that. Every stick looked like a snake to me. The only snake Ben did spot was harmless and Jim pulled him away before we could find out if black snakes bite.

There was a stream at our campsite, so we all got a bath. Ben grabbed my bra, ran off with it, shook it hard and dropped it in the water; it probably needed washing. :) Fortunately, he still had the leash on, so he couldn't go far and I was able to retrieve it, only slightly damaged. He was ready for play and I was ready for bed. Next time, he gets to wear a pack!

We tied Ben to a tree so he could be near us, but not near the stove while I fixed dinner. At dark we all went inside the tent, and though Ben was a little restless, he soon calmed down, until midnight, when something yowled outside the tent - maybe a bobcat, maybe a couple of raccoons mating, maybe a rabbit being eaten. Whatever it was, Ben wanted out of the tent. Now! He tore right through the mesh window. Fortunately, this was a very cheap tent we had bought to see how Ben adjusted to camping. Oh well. We zipped the rainflaps and spent the night a lot hotter than we were with open windows, but at least he couldn't go through them.

The next day we slowly slowly worked our way out. Ben rested while we worked and spent his time looking for squirrels and deer and an occasional pool of water. At the end, I think he was more exhausted than we were, and that's saying a lot. New experiences are always tiring. But all in all, both our camping trips were successful. We'll need to fix the hole in our tent, but at least we learned we can share a tent happily. Ben really loved sleeping with us, since he doesn't usually get to do that. By morning, he had his head on my pillow and was curled up close.

Since we came home from our busy week, he has done nothing but sleep. I think he had fun, but I also think he's really glad to be home.
 

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We want to take Davis camping. Sounds like you had a great time. Loved reading your post! Can you offer any tips for our future trip? Oh and did you get to take any pictures? Share them if you did!
 

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We went camping for the 4th. We have a trailer so I am unsure if that is still camping to some people. We were about 10,000 feet. There was snow still and water everywhere. So...water = mosquitos. We went through a lot of bug spray. The girls had a blast and slept for 2 days when we got home. They saw their first moose and maybe for about 1/2 a second they thought about "playing" with him. Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed.
 

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I asked before about how to introduce Ben to camping and was told to do it a little at a time. i.e. introduce him first to picnics where you cook outside and then introduce him to the tent, etc. The first time we camped out, he wouldn't settle at all. We had brought his bed to sleep on and he didn't have the slightest interest in lieing down. He was too interested in exploring his new environment. This time he seemed to understand that he needed to rest when he could as the trip was going to be a busy one. Some campgrounds you are surrounded by people and some give you more privacy. Go for the more private ones. I'd suggest making sure your long line is a strong one. Ben managed to break his leash when we were backpacking and he was tied to a tree. Fortunately, he just ran from where Jim was clearing out a blowdown to where I was lopping branches, but at a campground or if there had been wildlife about, that could have been a problem. Don't forget towels to dry him off it rains. We put painter's plastic on the floor of the tent to protect it from his toenails and made a nice bed for him on one side. Same in the truck. He didn't stay in his bed, preferring to cuddle with us, but at least he had his own space with his own blanket. And don't expect to get a lot of sleep. He jumped up at every odd noise. I think that would change as he got more used to the experience, but the first time at both the public campground and in our backcountry campsite, he was feeling very unsure of all the strange people and noises. He's a good guard dog.
 
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