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Dude Ranch Delight – Dog Friendly Guest Ranches

Dude Ranch Delight – Dog Friendly Guest Ranches
BARK Magazine, July/August 2009
By Rebecca Wallick

Hankering for a taste of the Old West? Want to take your canine companion along on a fun-filled and unique summer vacation? Consider a dog-friendly dude ranch. More dude ranches – or guest ranches, as most are now called – are catering to those of us who can’t imagine a vacation without our dogs. Each has different rules and expectations for dogs, so contact any ranch you’re considering visiting and speak to them about the specifics of their dog-friendly policy before setting out, and ask about the specifics of their dog-friendly policy before setting out, and ask about extra fees. Make sure you and your dog will enjoy the setting; you want a fun, yet safe, stay.

There’s something so elemental and special about heading down a trail on horseback, your dog happily trotting alongside. If your dog is fit and ell behaved, and won ‘t chase the horses or wildlife, he or she is the perfect dude ranch candidate. Even the older, more retiring canine can still enjoy these ranches, staying behind while you ride, joining you later for a swim or stroll, far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Don’t ride horses? That’s fine; most guest ranches offer a multitude of activities, from fly fishing and rock climbing to hiking or hanging out by he lake or pool. You might even learn to square dance! And don’t forget the down-home, family-style meals.

At this relaxed high-country getaway, set at 8,000 feet near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, canine guests may be off-leash as long as they get along with kids, horses, goats, sheep and other dogs. While trail rides here are supervised, owner Ellen Morin says, “We’re not a nose-to-tail outfit. Groups are small – no more than five riders per wrangler”, so each group rides at its best pace. Is your dog a little pokey? Borrow a crate and let him snooze safely in your room while you’re riding. (http://www.sundancetrail.com)

At the end of your dude ranch stay, all of your cheeks will be sore – those on your butt from bouncing in the saddle, and those on your face from grinning ear to ear as you watch your dog have the time of her life.