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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

With summer’s warm weather upon us, we all need to be extra aware of the hazards of dehydration — not only for us, but also for our pets. A lot of people take their dogs with them on Volksmarches, and dogs can develop problems also. We don’t have any four-legged friends here in the Netherlands with us, but our friend Jennifer West is an expert on Volksmarching with dogs. We think now is a good time to repeat advice she has shared with us in the past for keeping dogs safe on the trails.

• Just like humans, dogs need to be conditioned to walk long distances. Build up your dog’s stamina before taking him out for that first 10-, 20- or 42-kilometer trail. Additionally, dogs must be acclimated to hot weather. If the weather is extremely warm and your dog is not used to the heat, consider leaving him at home for the day to prevent the risk of heat stroke.

• Carry plenty of fresh water. If you’re chugging water between control points, just imagine how thirsty your dog is. Remember, if you have a smaller breed dog, his legs are working harder and faster than yours just to keep up with you.

• If you eat food along the trail, then imagine how hungry your pet is. Carry dog snacks or a zippered baggie of food especially on those longer trails to help your dog keep up his strength, too.

• While dogs should be on a leash at all times, some people remove them in open areas so the animal can run free. When you see another walker and dog, replace the leash immediately. While you know that your dog is friendly, the other owner doesn’t and would feel much more comfortable knowing your pet is under control.

• Ensure that children are old enough and strong enough to capably handle your dog in case he gets anxious, excited and/or uncontrollable.

• Check your dog’s feet for cuts or other injuries especially if you’ve been walking through rough terrain or on trail sections consisting of large, sharp rocks. If feasible, carry your dog over these dangerous areas. If he is too heavy or the area is just too large, slowly navigate a less hazardous path to the other side. I can say from experience that it’s a terrible feeling to see your dog leaving traces of blood each time he takes a step because he cut one of the pads on his feet.

• Carry a small pet first-aid kit with you consisting of at least non-stick pads, gauze, cotton and a bandage. More information about pet first-aid kits can be found in Pet First Aid, published by the American Red Cross and The Humane Society of the United States. Contact your local Red Cross office if you are interested in this extremely handy dog and cat emergency guide.

• If you’ve been walking in tall grass, be sure to check your dog’s entire body for burrs and insects, including ticks. Keep him well-groomed to reduce the chance of ticks and fleas and to maintain his health.

• Keep a spare towel or blanket in your car in case of inclement weather. These will help keep you from having to clean the inside of your car when the wet and muddy pooch decides to shake himself clean!

• One last piece of advice that I cannot stress enough: Be constantly aware of your surroundings. Throughout the past several years, I have seen hundreds of dogs on Volksmarch trails. I have rarely encountered a walker’s dog that was not well-mannered and under control, and I have always felt very comfortable. It’s the dogs running free in the towns and surrounding areas that concern me most.

If you take Fido walking on a hot day and you carry no water, or if you drag him behind you for 10 or 20 kilometers because he’s out of shape, you run the risk of injuring, or worse yet, killing him. Can you reconcile that in your heart? Are you willing to take that chance?

If you’re like me, your dog is a valued member of your family, a responsibility that you accepted when you brought him into your home. To express his love and gratitude, he will faithfully follow you to the ends of the earth just to be with you. As his owner and guardian, you have to make those tough decisions and sometimes say, for his own good, “You have to stay home today.”

I hope these tips will help keep your four-legged family member healthy and happy and keep you from making the mistake(s) that some of us have made and regret.

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On Saturday morning, look for Bob at Malmedy, Belgium, and in the afternoon at Trois Ponts, Belgium. This is in the heart of the Battle of the Bulge area. Two years ago Bob did this combination of walks and enjoyed both thoroughly. The town of Trois Ponts had a citywide flea market and we’re hoping they have it again this year. Between the walks, Bob probably will drive to the nearby village of Baugnez to check out the Historical Center being built there in honor of the American POWs murdered there in 1944. This new building is scheduled to open on Dec. 18, 63 years and a day after the murders took place.

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Please let us know if the German postal codes in the accompanying chart are helping you locate walks. Comments will be shared with the editors so they can judge the response as well. Contact us at two.walkers@yahoo.com.

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Mahalo nui loa to the contributors of this week’s column: William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, Manfred Dahl, Bob Gambert, Egon Hatfield, Wayne Henry, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, James Kelly, Tim and Luchi Lynch, John and Patty Marsh, Pat Patterson, Mary Jo Piccin and Nancy Shawley.

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Miscellaneous notes about this week’s Volksmarch events:

• At Manderbach, Germany, pick up a vase for completing the 5-, 10- or 20-kilometer trails.

• The prize for the Königsberg, Germany, walk is a hanging flower ornament.

Here’s what we hear from Clark Soeldner, our expert on walks in Italy:

• “For me, the highlight of the Bordano walk is the dozens of butterfly-themed murals painted on the houses in Bordano (found on all trails) and Interneppo (found on the 14K and 21K routes). The 7K is flat, while the 14K and 21K are in the hills. With a start card, you’ll enjoy reduced admission to the House of Butterflies. To reach the walk, exit the A-23 at Gemona- Osoppo in the Trasaghis direction. Look for the sign to Bordano to the right.

• “If you go to the walk in Gambugliano, make sure you register for the walker’s lunch when you buy your start card.

• “A warning about the Piancavallo walk; this walk will find you traversing the summer cow pastures. Beware of biting flies and the ‘decorations’ left on the trail by the cows!”

E-mail Volksmarch schedule information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. brochures to The Huffakers, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.


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