Even man's best friend can enjoy a good hike 

Dog Days

My dog Charlie suffers from performance anxiety. He will not pee in public.

Which is why I decided that drastic measures were in order. Charlie was going to go to the bathroom somewhere other than the confines of the backyard, or it'd be the glue factory for him, or whatever the doggie equivalent of a glue factory is.

The solution: a major league walk in the woods.

So, Charlie and I headed out to Francis Marion National Forest, more specifically the Buck Hall Recreation Area in McClellanville, for a stroll, and a test of just how long the dog could keep from peeing before he had to make that most fateful of decisions — do I let my bladder burst or do I finally just let my neuroses flow out of my body?

In preparation for the hike on the seven-mile-long Awendaw Passage, I packed plenty of water for the two of us (and our two companions), a water dish, and snacks for hikers of the two- and four-legged variety. And I read up on the do's and don't's of hiking with your mutt. Do: Check to make sure that the dogs are allowed on the trail. (They are.) Don't: Take Fido out on a gruelling trek unless he's used to the physical exertion required. (Charlie was.) Do: Pack the poop bags. (Not that we'd need them.) Don't: Load your dog down like a yak in the mountains of Nepal. (Charlie don't backpack.)

For those of you who've never hiked the Awendaw Passage, it's a pleasant enough trail that crosses over creeks and marshes, and as expected, it's pretty much flat the entire way, a particularly mild jaunt for a newbie four-legged hiker. However, in many places it's as soggy as a half-eaten bowl of Frosted Flakes left on the counter for two days. So be prepared for a wet and muddy slog, as well as a dirty floorboard in your car once you get back. (A bath and a tick check will also be necessary once you get home.)

Although Charlie doesn't normally speak for himself, I think he enjoyed his hike. Sometimes he took the lead. Sometimes he hung in back. Sometimes he freaked out when the wind blew through the trees. But he always had a goofy-ass grin on his face, the one that says, "This is the best day ever."

In case you were wondering, over the course of the three-hour hike and the hour-and-a-half drive there and back, he never peed. But all of that changed when he was back once again in his domain. It was well over a full minute. I counted.

The Outdoors Issue

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