Tails from the Trail: Prepping for 'Patagone'

Tails from the Trail: Prepping for 'Patagone'

Zuke’s is proud to support ambassador Stevie Anna Plummer as she and her pup, Darcie, embark on Patagone, a 1,000-mile exploration through Patagonia on horseback. By traveling via traditional horse packing, Stevie Anna hopes to inspire others to embrace slower travel, i.e. making the most out of every moment on an exploration, while respecting and understanding the local culture. Over the next few months, she will document her solo journey as she and Darcie explore the people and stories of this last wild frontier. Keep reading to learn more about how Stevie Anna helped prepare Darcie for this journey of a lifetime! – The Dog Blog

The Patagonian summer is fast approaching here in the southern hemisphere and with that, the completion of all the final preparations for our big adventure ahead. It’s been nearly two years in the making. My adventure dog Darcie and I will cross over 1,000 miles Patagonia’s wilderness with my two horses, a.k.a. my bigger dogs, Sundance and Bandido.

Darcie, Sundance, Bandido and Stevie Anna Plummer

Darcie has been my co-pilot though 26 states and several countries, all the way from Alaska down to Patagonia. Much like her owner, she lives for the road, the trail and the fresh new scents of all the rugged landscapes this world has to offer.

I named the project Patagone. The native word here in Patagonia for foot, paw, or hoof is pata, and since we’ll be traveling by all three, Patagone suited the journey perfectly. The trip will take approximately four months and cover just about every type of terrain, from dry steppe to high mountain passes. I have to start considering things like sore paws, horse kicks, puma, highways, dehydration, heat stroke, and just about everything else a dog lover hates to imagine encountering. I also trained (with a few bags of Zuke’s treats) Darcie and my packhorse to allow Darcie to ride on top of the pack saddle in case of injury, busy roads or sore paws.

Through the years we’ve gone through a lot of gear and even a few makeshift solutions of our own, but there’s just some things that the trail can’t teach you. For that, I turned to Andrea, the local veterinarian here in Patagonia, who has been so gracious train me on emergency care for dogs over the past few months.

I started with Adventure Medical Kit’s Working Dog First Aid Kit as a base and then customized it specifically for our expedition. Together we came up with practical trail solutions that are easy to find in this part of the world and are often multipurpose, a word so dear to any traveler trying to lighten their load.

Here is a detailed outline of everything I’ll be taking for Darcie along the Patagone expedition:

While you can buy or even make many items that will keep your adventure pup safe outdoors, one should note that a lot of safety comes with the trust and bond you build with your dog, mutual respect, and some intense time spent in training. Commands can be one of the biggest lifesaver and preventative measures you can take in insuring your pet’s safety.

When training your dog to be off-leash, it’s crucial that they know how to behave. Dogs shouldn’t be allowed to chase after or bother wildlife. One of the first lessons I taught Darcie in Alaska was our "safe distance" and to "check back" with me. This can be easily taught even to young pups. Start in a smaller, protected space such as a fenced yard with the dog off leash. As soon as the dog wanders off too far (always in sight of you), turn and start walking the opposite direction of the way your dog is headed and then reward the dog with a tasty treat when they come to you.

Sometimes even hiding for a moment to let your dog frantically search for you is another good training tactic. This teaches your dog that they are responsible for staying with you, and that you’re not going to play babysitter and chase after him if he wanders off. Now, no matter where I am, Darcie always checks back with me and goes no more than 50 or so feet ahead of me on the trail.

Darcie; image courtesy of Stevie Anna Plummer

Keeping your dog with you on the trail is one of the biggest forms of safety. If they’re allowed to wander, you always run the risk of them being left to their own devices. A few of the many dangers are encountering porcupines or other dangerous wildlife, stepping into a foot trap or consuming poisonous materials, getting overheated, exposing themselves to dangerous terrain or even worse, getting lost.

Having your dog at your side drastically increases their safety, plus, adventures are always better shared. So here’s to happy trails and wagging tails!


About the Author

Stevie Anna Plummer

Stevie Anna grew up in the woods of Oregon, the deserts of Texas and ended up in the heart of the wilderness of Patagonia with her adventure pup, Darcie. An avid adventurer, she spends her time traveling the world to explore other cultures and has traveled 49 states, with Darcie by her side for 26 of them. The two have gone everywhere from Yosemite to Colorado, all the way to Alaska and back. Stevie Anna fell in love with the vast, wild land that is Patagonia and never left. In November 2017, she embarked on her project, Patagone, a 1,000+ mile journey across Patagonia by horseback with her adventure pup. Follow their travels on Instagram at @stevieanna and visit www.stevieanna.com.