Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Bugging Out for Your Furry Buddy with Ruffwear

Bugging Out for Your Furry Buddy with Ruffwear

Often we focus on the cool tools and accessories when it comes to bugging out. We usually forget about what our pets need to survive an extended separation from home. Unfortunately, we assume because our domesticated pets are animals, that they could easily switch back into wild survival mode. Every recent natural disaster around the world has proven that this is certainly not the case. Domesticated animals have a hard time foraging for quality food long-term and end up usually dying from infection or intestinal parasites.

If you are at all humane, the last thing you will do is just cut Rover loose and wish him the best when a crisis arises. With a little planning, your pet could join you during evacuation, or could be easily reunited even if separated. Here are several keys to ensuring you and your pet survive even the worst of crises.

Your dog needs many things to survive, but why should you have to carry all that stuff. As a general rule, dogs can carry 15%-25% of their weight in a well fitting quality pack with training.  Obviously you want to work them up to that weight.  We are quite active with our two Dobermans and have run through about three packs… most are junk, fall apart, chafe the dog, or are insecure.  If you are going to be doing any serious hiking, you owe it to yourself and your dog to consider the top of the line Ruffwear line of dog packs. This are premium quality performance packs that are equivalent to the best human packs are the market. I chose a Ruffwear Approach and Palisades pack from my XXL male and XL female.

The Approach is a great premium quality pack for day hikes and overnights which allows for all the basics from food and reserve water to medications, a couple toys, and basic first aid to be stuffed into the pack.

The Palisades is an expanded sized waterproof expedition level pack for dogs. Its fuller featured with three pouches per side extra attachment points and includes two 1L water bladders and all waterproof zippers. The Ruffwear Approach pack has an integrated and attached chassis, however the Palisades has a base chassis with removable packs which I found very handy.  The Palisades delivers the ultimate pack fit and weight management for a dog while still maintaining 100% of their mobility.  Due to that tiny little waist and giant chest, Dobermans are among the hardest dogs to fit packs to, however after providing the dimensions to Ruffwear, their customer service provided me with the the sizes for the perfect fit.  

Another feature of these packs is that they provide a secondary leash attachment point and handle. The handle is so handy I have considered having permanent handles glued onto both dogs.

I am not a “let’s cloth our dogs” kind of guy however in this case it makes a lot of sense for the dog to carry his own burden of gear and the packs also make the “wonder twins of destruction” far less menacing looking which allows me to take them places without people recoiling in fear.  If you travel, hike or plan on bugging out with your furry buddy, this is one of the best investments you can make.

This is a situational based decision, however generally if don’t leave under your own control rescue will not take pets as we saw in New Orleans. Those who left prior to the storm were able to get family and pets to safety, however those that waited were left no other choice than to leave their pets behind.

According to the ADA - Americans Disabilities Act, no one can ask what your disability is or deny you service based on your disability. A rapidly increasing service dog segment is Therapy Dogs. Therapy Dogs do not grant access like Service Dogs, however most people do not know that. This creates a grey area where a person with a dog with an attached service dog ID and/or coat may supersede hotel or other lodging or transportation regulations.

The challenge is that airport security requires doctor prescribed proof of a service animal requirement, however to my knowledge no other transportation does. In the past I have traveled with my previous dog at some of the top hotels in the country without so much as a question or deposit however I know that there are some that claim they have needed a Service Animal ID. In some states it is illegal to masquerade a pet as a service animal to gain building, lodging or transportation access, so you should check first.  A $30 service animal ID may be the one thing standing between you and shelter when a crisis hits.

ID for your pet goes beyond just having your pet microchipped and a collar with Rover’s name on it.  Tips for pet recovery are to have a custom pet tag made (Petco has a machine that does this) which says the name of the pet, the owner(s) names and phone numbers and preferably the city and state you live in. A lost recovered pet with this info attached to the collar can usually be home the same day as it is lost. Without it, you dog is just an orphan until someone can make a determination who this dog belongs to.  In disaster situations, pet chip scanners are usually in short supply.  Great ideas are hi-viz reflective colored colors to present them from being hit at night. My father used to spray paint and X on his yellow lab with safety orange paint during hunting season… but I am sure you can come up with a better solution.

It is critical that you keep your pet up to date with all immunizations including rabies and Bordatella which are typically required for any pet who ends up in a shelter situation. If your pet does not have clear proof of these immunizations, they may be isolated or put in an pen/area with other pets which may have these issues.

Get copies of all current vaccinations now and maintain multiple copies.  If there is ever an issue you will be glad you had them. Also keep copies of certificates of completion for all training classes your dog has completed. It is one thing to say a kid provoked a mean doberman an it nipped them, on the other hand its quite another to show proof of six good citizenship dog classes the pet has completed which would indicate it really was the kids fault. 

In some jurisdictions, fines will be issued to recovered pets which are recovered that are not current on shots, and in most cases animals without identifiable rabies are automatically quarantined. Make sure you have documentation of your pets vaccinations to avoid you fully littled loved one from being taken, quarantined, or even put down.

Unfortunately you cannot stockpile immunizations as they have a very short shelf life of a few days, however you can have a couple extra heartworm and flea and tick treatments on hand. Bug out situations can be hard on humans and pets which can include allergies and stress and new food induced colitis (pet diarrhea). Some pet allergy meds and Metronidazole for colitis is highly recommended to have on hand to assure your pet is still in tip top positions.

A couple leashes and collars are a must, however other items are critical as well. A small single bed sized blanket or large beach towel is key to handling a wounded or over excited pet without getting bit yourself and makes a perfect dual purpose bedding and handy if they need bathed. Consider also that your pet may be crammed into tight confines with odd people and other pets in a rescue situation. Even a calm friendly pet may act irrationally and bite or nip someone - just enough to get you or your pet kicked off a rescue vehicle. Generally animals showing aggression are either left by rescuers or are occasionally put down immediately to avoid potential safety issues (usually with far too little thought).

Leashes are key however assure you have both a long leash like a Flexi-Leash and a short standard sturdy leash. The Flexi-Leashes are great for allowing your dog to exercise, however I can attest first hand that they are not the strongest when your pet decides to go nuts.

The smarter thing to do is keep a pre-fitted muzzle and calming aids. I suggest a soft muzzle as it looks a lot less threatening that the cage style. The muzzle will calm the pet, provide you with significant more control and also prevent any unforeseen issues which would otherwise get your or your pet kicked off a rescue vehicle.

Calming aids are all dependant on your pet. Generally it is a good idea to pick up a perscription of sedatives for your pet in case they are required, especially if your pet is a neurotic mess. I highly recommend against giving a pet sedatives in a situation where they need to function in a walking and responding situation as these generally just knock a pet out.  The better alternative is to use some of the natural options such as Dr Foster Ultra-Calm bites, a blanket over the head, or a favorite toy that always settles them down.

If you have the ability to transport your pet(s) in a cage in a vehicle, do so to guarantee the safety and control of your pet. Many vets believe most physical trauma to pet during accidents could be prevented if people transported their pet in cages. Generally it is a good idea to place a pet identification pouch with copies of the pet’s ID and vaccinations on the outside of the cage. Print live animal on the top of the cage.

All the basics still apply of gauze and tape, however skip the Bandaids and go with a roll of athletic tape and a lot of gauze, peroxide, saline solution, and neosporin. Hydrocortisone spray and antiseptic Betagen spray are critical in my book to have if you have a pet as 99.9% of scrapes, rashes, and lacerations can be treated with just these two topical sprays. Other more odd items are also handy such as a bulb syringe for ear, anal, and wound irrigation, quick release tourniquet, hemostat and tweezers to pull out hair, burrs, or splinters and good for needle sutures, and blunt tip surgical scissors to cut out hair, bandages, or others items caught in the pet’s hair. I also keep a couple standard 1cc syringes and needles to drain fluids from infections or administer treatments or immunizations. 

If you expect your pet to suddenly go wild and drink from lakes and eat wild game, also expect to take care of a sick pet. Outside farm cats are obviously better at this than dogs, however most will be riddled with parasites and disease in no time because their systems are not used to those food and water sources. Ruff Dawg has a great 100% USA made rubber water and food dish that can be smashed folded and crushed into a dog pack.  I highly recommend it. A set of simple water bladders and ziplock bags of food can be placed on each side of the pack for equal weight distribution.

If the only time your pet has been out of the house is to use the bathroom and an occasional vet visit, then you will likely have a really tough time in a bug-out survival situation with your pet. Expose your dog now to lots of people, kids, other pets, situations, and experiences. If your family suddenly has to bail into the truck to survive the end of the world, the experience will not be so weird for the pet.

Keeping your dog entertained is essential to relieving stress for both your dog and you. A chewing toy and exercising toy are two must have items in a pack.  Sure dogs seem to find a random stick a wonderful universal toy, however consider a 100% US made Ruff Dawg AstroBone or “Stick” as light and simple options to keep you dog happy and the carpet clean. With two Dobermans in the house, we go through a lot of toys and the Ruff Dawg line has been outstanding. I highly recommend their “Peanut” toy to stuff food into for a fun incentivized game.

FINAL THOUGHTS Unless you have a street smart, free living, outdoor dog that depends soley on you for an occasional pat on the head, Bo Bo the wonder dog needs you to give them a helping hand when its time to bug out.  Just like us humans your dog needs a great pack to bug out with.  With a little planning your dog can have the right food, water, security, medication, ID, and even a little fun after all they deserve it.


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