So on the first hot hot day when you walk the dog down to the kids’ school, the dog stumbles into the bushes like he’s going to faint.

Whattaya do next?  You give him some water (by using the contents of another parent’s water bottle and a grocery bag you brought in case of poop collection) and take him to the vet where you are reassured but told, as you’ve already decided to do, to carry water and a bowl around with you on hot days.

Next, you order the dog his own backpack, like you’ve been meaning to do for so long.  Poop bags, treats, bowl, water, extra water, brush, and an allen wrench I found in the zoo parking lot.  There’s more stuff that will wind up in this dog pack, but that’s it so far.

 REI dog backpack on Roscoe

I had to buy the Large, as my dog is about a hundred and twenty-odd pounds or so, depending on the last vet visit.  If you read the reviews online, the packs seem to run a little large, and lots of folks who thought they’d need a large are using medium sized packs.  The Large is good for mine.  I’ve got about two inches of play left in the rearmost strap.  Aside from that rearmost strap, there are two other quick-release points to deal with.  One of the quick-releases connects into a three-point harness on the dog’s chest.

The fit’s good, after some tinkering, but I wonder if I’ve done something wonky, as the rig tends to end up after a while slightly off on Roscoe’s left side.  That might be because 1) he tends to walk on my right, and go off that direction occasionally to check out stinky things or squirrels.  (right. OR squirrels.  I bet they stink, too) and 2) I have the leash connected to the pack.  I could have the leash on his collar, which would solve the pack shifting to the left, but there’s good reason NOT to do that.  I’ll get to that.

So the pack has a good fit, three-point harness, three quick release buckles, and a clip-in for your leash.  It also has a handle on the top.  I’ve been asked if I could use the handle to pick up the dog.  No.  Roscoe is 125 pounds at the moment.  I couldn’t lift him by a handle in the middle of his back.  I can carry the pack around while Roscoe plays in the lake, though.  Good handle.  I have heard of some people who keep a similar pack on a little Daschund who couldn’t climb out of their canoe.  The little dog wanted out of the canoe to follow their larger dog into the lake, apparently.  And, apparently, the dog didn’t have anything in the pack that couldn’t get wet, ’cause they lifted the dog out and dropped him into the water with the handle.  I was told this story second or third hand while discussing the handle on Roscoe’s rig.  No idea what kinds of things were being left out of the story, or added. DId the dog look like he had little floaty wings on?  Did the owners later say, “Oh, the ziplock on the dogfood in the pack wasn’t closed up very well.  This looks like puke now.”

Back to Roscoe…We haven’t run out of room on either side of the pack, by any stretch of the imagination.  Roscoe has all of his stuff, and sometimes carries the leash in there, too.  He’s also has carried a frizbee, and my jacket.  None of which packed the thing full up, even with a couple of water bottles, two bags of treats and a heck of a lot of those unecological plastic grocery sacks that work well for giant dog poops in civilized neighborhoods.

The clip-in for your leash at the front of the pack is nice.  Without it, Roscoe tends to pull when we first start our walks.  He’s ready to run, and my knees disagree with the right-out-of-the-gate method.  The harness set-up in the pack seems to keep him from wanting to pull.  It’s weird.  You’d think that dragging against a collar around your neck  would be a lot less comfortable than dragging against a chest harness, but there you go.  A dog is not a horse.  He won’t take off and strain at the leash when he’s in this pack.

He likes the pack too.  From the start, it meant adventure, and let’s face it, he’s a German Shepherd.  He likes the sense that he has another job to do.  “I carry the Pack.”  He holds as still as he can (Excited to go!  Going for a walk!  Can’t stand to hold still!  Whine!  Yip!) while I pop the straps on, and he’s learned to hold still while I pop them off.  When I lift on the handle after the pack’s loose, he ducks backward out of it and heads for the yard.  Nice.

So these packs.  Good stuff.  And they’re on sale right now.  Quit carrying your dog’s stuff around.  He or she can do it themselves.