Meeting A Dog While Camping

He enhanced an already incredible experience
By Karen B. London PhD, July 2018, Updated June 2021

This past weekend, my family and some friends were camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in an area with only a few other people around. The one trio of people we met had a dog with them, and he was a delight. They walked by our campsite when we were playing cards in the shade.

Meatball, a friendly Boston Terrier, wandered over to us, and his people called, “Meatball!” to encourage him to return to them. All of us in the card game immediately called out greetings of welcome to Meatball and he popped over to visit with us instead. (The one person in our group who was napping at the time was very puzzled that we were all suddenly saying, “Meatball!” in ridiculously cheery voices.)

The dog walked around meeting each of us, wagging his entire backside the whole time. He licked most of us, which may have been an indication of his friendly nature but could also be explained by the tasty layers of sweat and dirt that we each had this late into our camping trip. After he had sampled all of our delicious legs, he went on his merry way with his own people.

Later that evening, we saw Meatball as our two groups watched the sunset at a nearby lookout point. He hung out with us even more than with his own group, which I wish we could take as a compliment. In reality, he was more comfortable with us because our perches for watching the sunset were easier to reach and did not involve any steps that were too large for a Boston Terrier to manage easily. Still, we enjoyed our additional time with him and all discussed later that meeting him was one of the best parts of the trip.


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Think about that for a moment: We were camping, enjoying being out in nature and watching the sunset over one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Yet, meeting and enjoying the company of a dog we just met was still a highlight of the experience. Even with my great love of dogs, that is something of a revelation, if not an outright surprise.

Can you relate to this realization that even an unknown dog can be among the best parts of already incredible experiences?

Photo by Evan Hofstetter, courtesy the author

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life