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We've got a trip on the Middle Fork coming up at the end of July and would really like to bring our pup. He's pretty solid on our cat and we've got a spot set aside for him that's stable and right behind the captain. He gets a bit nervous through whitewater but he swims great and doesn't jump off the boat or get in the way.

We've never run the Middle Fork so don't know how friendly it will be at low water. Solid Class 3+/4 boater and the rest of the crew is about the same. At this point we're planning on bringing him but have someone to watch him if the weather looks nasty or the water bumps up big for some reason. We spoke to our vet about it and they gave us the green light, even provided us with an extended doggie first aide kit for the trip which was nice.

What's your conditions on when or when not to bring your dog with you? Particularly on this stretch of river or a trip of this length?
 

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Dog on MFS

I do not have a dog or have been on trips with dogs in tow however, especially this year you will likely see flows at or below 2' at the end of July. I have a July 18 launch and am forecasting the same. Keep in mind that many either cancel or fly into Indian creek beginning at 2'. A lot of threads exist on low water on MFS. I will not go into further discussion. What that means to you may be weight and problems associated with pin balling down the upper section with possibilities of hang-ups and potential for wraps. With my 17 trips from 1.56' to 6', every level has its own considerations.

Hope that helps.
 

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We do the MFS in the fall at low water most years. We fly in to Indian Creek. Our river dog has been flying in with us since she was a year old. She started as a pup on the Main Salmon. She's a Lab, so a very mellow temperment on the river and in the airplane on the fly-in. The pilots always comment on how well behaved she is. She has gotten pitched out of the boat only once on the MFS. We could see it coming, since she was standing up on the stern gear pile when her human bumped a rock. He got her back in the boat quickly and she learned to lay down in the rapids after that. As long as your pup has been acclimated to your raft, has basic obedience down, and has a good CFD, then it should be ok. But your judgement of your dog's readiness for whitewater is something only you can decide.
 

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MFS

I think one of the bigger issues with bringing your dog is the poison ivy. It really sucks to have the dog come back to camp covered in poison ivy oil and pass along the love. I would talk to the TL and see what they think about it. Cheers
 

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I think one of the bigger issues with bringing your dog is the poison ivy. It really sucks to have the dog come back to camp covered in poison ivy oil and pass along the love. I would talk to the TL and see what they think about it. Cheers
I hear this concern all the time, but in 10 years of rafting with a dog have never seen it happen. We take no extra precautions with the dog in regards to poison ivy, and really don't even think about it. Have you actually had a dog pass poison ivy to a person? I wonder if it really happens or if its just a river "old wives tale?" I'd love to know if people have had a real experience with cross contamination from a dog. Maybe we are just extremely lucky?
 

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We take no extra precautions with the dog in regards to poison ivy, and really don't even think about it. Have you actually had a dog pass poison ivy to a person?
I have and it was not good for the dog owners. There were ok but it may have to do with their sensitivity as well. I used to think I was immune to the stuff but have found in recent years I am not.

As for bringing your dog. Go for it. Clean up after them. That may be easier said than done though. Our golden who went down with us at four times in the fall specialized in sneaking away to do his business. At least he went far out of camp. I think we only found him pooping once in those trips and we really tried as I hate to step in dog poop.
 

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I hear this concern all the time, but in 10 years of rafting with a dog have never seen it happen. We take no extra precautions with the dog in regards to poison ivy, and really don't even think about it. Have you actually had a dog pass poison ivy to a person? I wonder if it really happens or if its just a river "old wives tale?" I'd love to know if people have had a real experience with cross contamination from a dog. Maybe we are just extremely lucky?
I have indeed seen cross contamination from dogs. The oil can stay active for days. It is amazing what people who raft with there dogs do not see them do. If your TL is cool with it (ASK THEM ) and you want to spend time with the dog then go for it. I have seen our dog LUNA lose access to Westwater , and Desolation in the last 5 years and we sure miss bringing her. The MFS and others may not be far behind. Cheers
 

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The dog will be fine unless he's a big sissy, which some dogs are. If it rains, the dog won't care. It would take a biblical deluge to take the MFS from current projections to levels high enough to start getting more difficult than normal summer flows. Low water is your issue. You'll be pinballing down the river a good portion of your time and if your dog isn't down in the boat or being held on to he'll swim. Then you'll have to try to go get him with your oar blades hitting bottom in shallow water and gravel bars in the way... You will most likely be stuck multiple times too, so doggie has to be fine with you stepping out of the boat to grunt, groan and grovel in shallow water.

Although I've done it myself plenty, I still say dogs and cats don't mix well. Everything has to have it's own singular place on a rigged cat and my dog likes to move around. He doesn't want to sit in his spot for hours on end with a hand on his lifejacket.
 

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Although I've done it myself plenty, I still say dogs and cats don't mix well.
Dammedest thing I ever saw was a guy who showed up for a spring MF trip ( under five feet but still) with a husky looking dog. He hadn't asked me about the dog and I had the permit so I was a bit bent but the dog seemed very well behaved. Actually turned out to be better than the owners but that is a whole nother story.

This dog rode on an aluminum table behind the rower....with nothing on it. From what I saw he never even came close to falling out. He moved around a lot back there and seemed to enjoy sliding a bit and surfing the table. If the owner got on the boat while the dog was being a dog on shore and then noticed, that dog would dead run to the boat and launch onto that table sliding to a stop in position behind the rower.

I would raft with the dog again, not the owner.
 

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Just got off the MF. I saw really good dogs on the river and during the ranger speech. This is classic river trip. There will be no time for the boatman to do anything but row. it won't be pretty if you have to try to get the dog back in the boat. If our friendly dog has trouble with whitewater, watch out at a rapid named RUBBER & all others. Have fun and take care of that great dog.
 

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Looks like we have just been lucky with the dog & the PI. I have a great video of the dog lounging in the PI on the Main Salmon. The video clip is set to MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This."

I always joke with my rafting buddy that his dog is responsible for more river trip invites than he is. Everybody loves her.
 

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Just got off MF, and there was a dog that had run away during one their many t'storms up there. They had to move on and hope he walked miles back to putin. Sad. Our trip had a dog on it, and it also had hard time when thunder happened. Did not run off, but ran into open tents and shook. MF is going to be so low this year by July, I think you will have to fly into Indian creek - it is only 2.2 now. If I was you, I suggest leaving the pup at home rather than loosing him. Also, MASSIVE amounts of poison ivy the dogs get into, right by camps, and they rub it on to you and gear if not careful.....
 

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MF is GREAT for river dogs (level, dog, rower, and level dependent). We just had 6 dogs on one trip (got off yesterday) , with our 3 goldens with us on our 14' raft. It was dog heaven. 3 pups on their first multiday trip and 2 river veterans. It was Lil's 3 MF trip! We had quite a load in our dog groover by the end of the trip...... best trip ever!

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We just got off the MFS and there is a lost dog out there...so keep that in mind.
That would be horrible. I heard one had been lost then found. I hope another is not lost. Life has many risks, and each must assess the reward individually. Those risks include the whitewater, snakes, noise, and other dangers. Even the intoxication state of the owners can be bad for the dog. Definitely be careful but enjoy if you and your dog are prepared.

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Just got off MF, and there was a dog that had run away during one their many t'storms up there. They had to move on and hope he walked miles back to putin. Sad. Our trip had a dog on it, and it also had hard time when thunder happened. Did not run off, but ran into open tents and shook. MF is going to be so low this year by July, I think you will have to fly into Indian creek - it is only 2.2 now. If I was you, I suggest leaving the pup at home rather than loosing him. Also, MASSIVE amounts of poison ivy the dogs get into, right by camps, and they rub it on to you and gear if not careful.....

Not sure if this is the same lost dog, but our trip launched on the 10th, and one of the dogs jumped off the boat and swam to shore in the first hour. I came within inches of getting him back--but he ran off. We ended up camping at gardells instead of trail flat so we could look for him. He was spotted, but spooked. We had no choice but to move on after many hours of trying.

Sat phone BOLO was sent out via challis ranger district. The dog was reunited with his humans after our trip. He ended up at boundary.

According to the rangers this is not uncommon. Please know your pups disposition!


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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all the words of wisdom folks!

We are the TL and ultimately making the call, but the internet is a mighty tool with lots of stories to share.

Hadn't really thought about Poison Ivy so we'll have to keep a serious eye out for that. He would never run off away from us under any circumstances. He's more than a little attached to us...if his ma and I are on separate boats he starts to whine. Comes skiing and mountain biking with us all the time, listens well and knows to catch an eddy. He's been in some heavy whitewater and some low flows bouncing off rocks and he'll have his very own platform on the back of our cat similar to a post above. Essentially he's the best dog ever ;-)

After taking all this in, it's really going to come down to if he makes the weight cut or not. 75lbs of dog is like a whole nother person...plus i guess we have to bring food for him....damn freeloaders
 

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I would bring booties too. All 6 of our dogs had pretty tender feet by day 3. I have never had that happen on a river trip before. 2 of them wore a boot each for about a day and were fine.

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