Pull Your Own Weight

I recently picked up two water bottles for Suki’s pack. When you enjoy active pursuits and your dog falls into the size category of small there are often a few challenges that ride along. For me at least, hydration happens to be one of them. For taste and to keep my Camelbak bladder cleaner I like to add a bit of lemon to the water. Suki, however, doesn’t like the taste of it and won’t drink that. If she were a bigger dog I’d have bought the less basic Ruff Wear pack, she’d be toting her own water along, and everything would be fine. However, with a chest circumference of just under seventeen inches, she’s about five inches too small for, well, a size Small. Pack and water bladder bundles aside, it’s impossible to even find a bladder that can fit into a small dog’s pack. There are toddler sized water bottles, and I’ve nearly purchased a Sigg bottle for her on a few occasions, but they’re bulky and aren’t really made for squishing into a pack. I had nearly resigned myself to the idea that when you have a small dog, they just can’t carry their own water.Image

Then it hit me: Nutrition bottles. Small, lightweight bottles designed to slip onto a runner’s belt. How had I not considered that before? I jumped on the Mountain Equipment Co-Op website to check out their running gear, and sure enough tiny little nutrition bottles all lined up and waiting to be converted to small dog water bottles. The nice thing about MEC is that they no longer carry bottles containing BPA, so even though the bottles are plastic that isn’t a concern. I had three bottles to choose from: two Zenergy brand (150 mL and 300mL), the other Nike (177mL). I ended up going with the largest Zenergy bottle because the contoured shape fits so well in her pack. It may not look like it, but even with the 300mL bottles there is still plenty of room for a bowl, snacks, and other essentials.

ImageActually, my main concern was more weight than size. Just like people, dogs should only carry about 30% of their body weight. For Suki, that means she can carry about 1500 grams. Here’s a breakdown of her typical pack contents:

Total possible weight: 1500 grams

  • Approach Pack: 302 grams
  • Water bottles (filled): 332 grams each (664 grams total)
  • Beacon: 37 grams
  • Bowl: 51 grams

Total: 1054 grams

Percentage of weight: 21%

That leaves us with 446 grams left for treats, which is more than enough. On a long trek I may need to carry some of her food though, or keep one of the bottles in my pack.

The bottles are also curved along the back, so they contour nicely to the side of her ribcage and should alleviate any possible discomfort a stiff plastic bottle might otherwise cause.

ImageThe spout of the bottle is also slanted away from Suki’s body, preventing any possible rib jabbing. The curved spout and soft rubber nozzle also makes it easy to use it like a hamster bottle in the event you forget to pack a bowl. And at $2.50 each, adding water to the list of things Suki can carry barely made a dent in my wallet. I’m really looking forward to testing these things out.

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