A Sort-of-not-so-Great-Guide to Leaving Your Pet Behind

I remember the day I brought my son home. He puked in the car, tucked his tail, and refused to look at me for the rest of the drive. Countless socks, sticks, and flies have fallen victim to playtime since.

He’s devoured heads of broccoli in one sitting (broccoli is his favorite).

Neighborhood squirrels cross our yard with caution, fearful of the day the Guardian of the Garden catches them between his powerful jaws, ripping them to shreds.

Bunnies flee at the opening of his doggie door.

He’s a scream! A witch’s fondest dream! He makes wounds ooze and flesh crawl! (The Nightmare Before Christmas, anyone?)

Meet The Terrifying,

The Grisly,

The Sinister,





I’ve always been one of those people.

When people ask what kind of dog I have, “purebred angel” is my typical response.

My parents call Scout their grandson – at my request, of course. Mom was reluctant at first, but I ignored her until she complied.

Everyone who has a dog understands there are two connotations behind the word “dog”.

There’s the way dog people use the word dog: “Scout is my dog. I love my dog.”

and then there’s, “please get your dog off my couch.”

See the difference?

I can call my dog a dog. You cannot.

Scout is my sidekick. Having a party? We’re there. No dogs allowed? That’s fine. He’s not a dog. We’re offended.

If you’re “not a dog person”, what kind of person are you really? Probably not the kind I want to bring my child around.


I mean, honestly. Seriously.


How could you not love this face?

When I started planning this thru-hike, I had every intention of taking Scout with me. After all, we’re a team. He sleeps in our bed and somehow fills every empty space available. I can’t imagine sleeping for 4 or 6 months without feeling his lifeless body plopping down, right on my stomach, knocking me awake while pinning me down, unable to move – not wanting to move – because I know he’s comfortable.

Cameron and I have decided to leave him with Cam’s parents. Scout’s been living here for 6 months already. He’s comfortable. He has friends here. He loves it here. He wants to stay. I’m trying to convince myself, not you.

It was more so Cameron’s idea, and then his job to convince me that bringing Scout along would be a shit show. He’s a beagle, if you can’t tell, which means he is a wonderful pest. He howls at the things that go bump in the night. He chases squirrels up trees while dragging his flailing mother behind. He’s a good boy, but his nose gets the best of him at times.

Additionally, hiking through the Smokies and Baxter State Park, we’d have to board him. Scout has serious kennel-issues. He hates the K word, which is entirely at fault of my piece of shit ex-boyfriend, AssHat.

I was on deployment when we broke up, and he had been caring for Scout – who was technically “our” dog at the time. After we split, I guess he started to resent Scout, because a neighbor and life-saver messaged me shortly after to inform me that AssHat had left Scout in his kennel for an entire weekend. Like, he left a bowl of food and water for him, and just left. Didn’t come back. For days.

I immediately called my landlord, had AssHat removed from my lease so he would (hopefully) leave (he did), and asked my neighbor to care for Scout until I returned home, which she gladly did. Scout is fine now, but kennels still scare him. He shakes, cries, and will sometimes get so worked up that he pukes.

So no, boarding Scout is absolutely not an option.

With that being said, I’m struggling a bit. And by a bit, I mean a lot. So I’ve made myself a sort-of-not-so-great-guide to leaving my child behind while I’m on the trail.

First things first, give that lil’ baby one kiss for every step to Katahdin (I hear it’s 5 million, but I plan on taking small strides, so that’s 6 million kisses). 

Take pictures of him sleeping. Take pictures of him not sleeping.

Give him endless broccoli, carrots, and ice cubes.

Let that pupper jump right onto the couch after his 4th bath this week, because for some reason it’s storming in February, and he loves to jump in puddles.

Let him jump in puddles.

He still doesn’t get to dig holes in the yard.

When the cashier at Whole Foods exclaims, “NO DOGS ALLOWED”, calmly explain to her that this is your 2-year-old son. We do not appreciate the “dog” word. We’re offended. We will not be shopping here anymore, even if your sushi is made with responsibly farmed salmon.

On second thought, we still want the sushi. Scout loves sushi.

Share your food with him. All of it – not just the portion you didn’t finish. He deserves it all. You get nothing.

Give him your cotton socks to chew to pieces. You’ll only need the wool ones anyway.

Let him stay up past bedtime. Give him the comfy pillows.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Stand up straight. Straighter than that, you mopey pile of poop.

Look yourself in the eye, look yourself in the soul – if you even have one – and repeat after me,

“I’m a bad mom.”

Cry. Hug your dog. Cry harder.

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Comments 3

  • Mary : Feb 12th

    The horror of leaving fur babies behind. I have two oldies: one has 3 legs and the other has arthritic hips, so no way I can take them. ???

  • Sacha Greer : Feb 12th

    Thank you for posting this! I’m leaving behind three kids, one who is a permanent staple on my lap, and who greets me with the most heart-rending whines when I come home, even if I just left to get the mail from the mailbox at the end of our driveway. I’m gutted about leaving them for 4-6 months, even though they will be left with my super non-asshat boyfriend who will lavish (almost) as much love on them as I do. I do indeed feel like a bad, selfish mom.

  • Stef : Feb 15th

    This is why I ended my thru-hike attempt in 2014. I love my furkids too much. They’re worth more to me than any amount of steps I could take on a trail. And they live such short lives. 6 months away from them would just feel like a lifetime. The trail will always be there.


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