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By Jane Cassie
(For Travel Writers’ Tales)

When our suitcases come out of the closet, our Schnauzer, Kalli, goes into panic mode. She neurotically shakes, scurries and gives us the occasional whimper. There's no need for conversation. Her pleading brown eyes clearly relay her thoughts: "Do I get to come along or are you leaving me behind?" As we transfer our travelling possessions from the house to RV, she has the answer. And she's the first one in the driver's seat.

Over the next few days, while we're nestled into the grove of pines at Lake Okanagan Provincial Park, our girl enjoys sniffing out scents, pawing a few paths and cuddling with us by the campfire. But before hitting the open road, there are a few things we need to consider and pack for our fur baby.

Rules and Regs - Prior to booking any campsite, we do an etiquette pet check. Is there a size or breed restriction or a limit to how many four-legged companions can tag along per party? Does the campground have a dog park where she can freely tromp and romp.

Nix the Ticks - Theses parasitic arthropods that hide out in the Okanagan's wooded areas would love to pounce on our precious pup. And they'd stay latched into her skin folds, around her ears or inside her legs until they’ve finished their blood meal. Prevention is the best protection for tick trouble. Before preparing for departure, we pick up some anti-tick remedy and give her a dose.

Identification Check - Although our girl probably won't roam from her RV home, her permanent tattoo and dog license will likely assure her safe return. If not, the new personalized ID tag that she now wears on her collar should do the trick.

Pet Essentials - Dog dishes and food (except when we're crossing the border to the US, as many pet food products are prohibited), leash and harness, treats and toys, poop bags and immunization papers. And while en route: a good water supply and her favourite lambskin blanket to keep her cozy. All necessities are packed and the three of us are ready to go!

(pic 1) Lake Okanagan Campground

Lake Okanagan Campground, located between Peachland and Summerland, is rimmed by a swim-safe beach and canopied by lush deciduous trees. It's divided into two parts. The sites in the South section snuggle together on a lake-shore jetty and those in the North terrace on a tree-riddled hillside. Three months earlier, we had checked out the pics and other perks at Camping and RVing BC Coalition and had opted for the latter. And now we're all living our Lake Okanagan dream!

(pic 2) Kalli is feeling right at home

Soon after setting up camp, Kalli feels right at home. Although leashing is a must at all times, her extended rope line gives her room to roam around our spacious site. Generous grassy plots and shade trees between us and our neighbours assures privacy and coolness. And from our perched platform, we have an awesome lake view.

(pic 3) Kalli loves plodding the lakeshore trail

Brent and I could easily chill out and relax for the entire stay but our pup would rather plod and play. And there are lots of local trails where we can appease her canine spirit. The two campgrounds are linked together by a kilometer-long lakeshore path and as we saunter this strip together, she sniffs the scents of regional wildflowers and scurrying chipmunks.

(pic 4) Playing with other pups on Sunoka Beach

The nearby city of Summerland also offers a plethora of dog-friendly walks. She loves strutting along the lakeshore boardwalk near Rotary Beach and listening to nature's symphony on the Rotary Route, where the Adams Bird Sanctuary thrives. But her favourite romp during this trip is the dog park at Sunoka Beach. With puppy-like abandon, she whimpers with glee when coming nose-to-nose with three other active and happy hounds.

(pic 5) Viewing Trout Creek Railway Bridge

On our final day, we stroll through Summerland's Ornamental Gardens, a horticulturist's delight that's located high above Highway 97. Spanning its bordering gorge is Trout Creek Railway Bridge, a trestle of metal that hangs 73meters (240 ft) above the canyon floor. And on this remaining section of preserved track, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, a 1912 fully-restored locomotive, shares the scenic sites of today with rail travel from a bygone era. Although we have to bypass this tourist attraction due to our four-legged tag-along, Kalli seems quite content to replace it with a little campground bliss. Cuddles around the campfire, games at the picnic table, basking in the sunshine, staking claims to her space at turndown. It's certainly a dog's life, even when we're on the road!

(pic 6) Cuddles around the campfire

(pic 7) Games at the picnic table

(pic 8) Staking claims to her space at turndown

Suggested photo captions -All photos taken by Brent Cassie

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