Who said our pets don’t enjoy the spender?

Mason and Olympia taking in the Grand Teton from the parking lot

There are sound reasons from predation to disease, to general nuisance, to exclude canine (and human) exposure from the protected domain of wildlife and equally good reasons to restrict untrained and disrespectful “owners” from bad supervision of their pets. But the National Parks seem determined to alienate visitors with pets from recreational and esthetic enjoyment of the Parks. It seems an unnecessary irritation, perhaps the federal rule is to impose the hope that pet and owner will depart and never return. For example in the Grand Teton leashed dogs are allowed at the parking lots and on paved roads, but at overlooks there tends to be a very short paved path nicely marked with a dog symbol with a red line diagonally slashed through it. Lots of observers said, go ahead, no one’s watching but I choose to respect the little red slash. Dog and owner can watch buses packed with gum chewing, food spitting, foot tramping hordes, cameras in hand racing for the treat. The pet cannot by regulation remain within the vehicle, nor be tied or penned for even a moment in a safe and neutral location unattended, so one cannot enter that precious piece of tarred black surface to actually obtain the view or to go into a building. Oh look at all the nice cars and RVs, wow isn’t that an interesting pair of shoes along with a plethora of gear popping.

The Park kindly provides a map of “pet exercise” areas, i.e. parking lots and roads which if they ever existed no longer exist. I spent hours chasing down the designed roads without success…. Must have been one of those without a sign and nicely boarded and closed to traffic.

Dear National Park how about some compromise? Would it hurt to allow pets on paved and asphalted walkways around the bend to see the view? How about requiring vaccinations and canine good citizen certificates for dogs entering the park? Special leash and halter? How about providing one or two nice walks for visitors with pets? How about available (by the hour) pet sitting at the Lodge or at an easy access point as opposed to a list of distant kennels with the notes that these may have changed or no longer be in service.

Not all pets should visit National Parks, however there are increasing numbers of traveling dogs and cats too. . . some full-time, some part-time, oh yes and they come with their inquisitive humans.

My two canine visitors were widely photographed by happy tourists.

On another note we were walking on a paved road alone (no one walks on those except pet owners) and I was thinking, what if there was a bear around here….. I turned to look behind me pretending that there might be such a creature and there he was! My dogs freaked, they’d never seen a bear; they decided running fast in the direction of the LT where we’d parked was a good idea. I held tight and made myself look big, waving my arms with clamped leashes attached and banged my water bottle on my thigh further disturbing the dogs for good effect. The bear didn’t think much of the commotion and ambled back into the brush. It took much longer for my two to calm down.

A moment when the smoke lifted!