Five years ago, a woman and her two golden retrievers went hiking in the hills above Santa Barbara, only to discover no water in the streams. She watched her dogs die right in front of her and has to live with that every day.

This weekend, we went hiking midday up Inspiration Point (a favorite “short” hike) and saw numerous dogs coming down off the trail with owners who had no water. The dogs looked like they were on their last legs and could hardly catch their breath enough to pant. After reaching the Point, we turned around to begin our descent and passed five people carrying their dogs up the trail to the top. Then we came across a man sitting under a tree with his beautiful boxer (both had passed us at a running pace earlier), and the dog was clearly unable to make the descent, supposedly the easiest part of a hike. We gave the dog 1½ liters of our water and she would have taken more if we’d had it to give.

In this hot summer season, if you can’t bring enough water for both you and your dog, leaving your best friend at home when you go hiking is OK. Your dog won’t hate you for going hiking without him or her. In fact, when you get home from your hike, that eager, smiling, puppy face will happily greet you … instead of having been left behind in the dust.

Beth Cleary
Santa Barbara