July Dog Tale of the Month – Adventure Down the Grand Ronde Brings Back Memories and Creates New Ones

from: Will

location: Grand Ronde River, Eastern Oregon

On a recent multi-day trip on the Grand Ronde River in eastern Oregon, I remembered why I moved from the city to central Oregon and went to work for an outdoor recreation company. Like so many others, I was in search of what some have coined the work/life balance. For me, that balance results not from working less, but in a job that blends work and play.

Back in 2001, my pregnant wife and I packed up our belongings and loaded up a U-Haul with our two dogs, Dakota and Moose, by our sides.  We headed to Bend, Oregon with a vision in mind of our ideal lifestyle, but the path wasn’t exactly clear. In hindsight, I liken the experience to running a river for the first time – anxious, but excited for what lies around the next corner.

Fortunately for me, shortly after moving to Bend, I came across a kindred spirit whose passion for whitewater recreation was equal to mine. He also happened to own a really cool company in Bend by the name of Ruff Wear.  Patrick and I met on a paddling trip down Upper Quartzville Creek in the Cascade Mountains.  We gained a respect and trust for each other on that first river trip and two weeks later I started working for Ruff Wear.

Our goal wasn’t to get rich, but to build products that facilitated outdoor adventures with our four legged companions – the type of adventures that feed the soul and strengthen the spirit. The ones that come from sharing group meals and laughter around the campfire, where the canopy of stars is your roof and the morning dawn light your alarm clock.  For me, it’s on the river that the part of my brain that is constantly thinking slows down and I tune into the natural harmony of my surroundings.

Grand Rhonde River, Oregon
Grand Ronde River, Oregon

On the Grand Ronde, eight adults, eight kids, and Sally, our mindful Australian Shepherd, pushed off from the town of Minam with three rafts, a driftboat, and a slew of kayaks strapped to the rafts.  We headed into the spring runoff with a goal of sharing the joys of a pristine river with our children.

We quickly settled into a routine of group meals, group parenting, and group exploring.  We found a few snakes and lots of stone flies, we threw rocks into the river, and created miniature diversion dams for our foam boaters.  We also paddled a few strokes with our kids and came across other rafting groups sharing the trip with their dogs. To my delight, most of them were geared up in Ruff Wear’s K-9 Float Coat.

After five days on the river, Sally was a little fatter from cleaning up camp scraps, the kids didn’t want to leave, and the grown-ups drove away with content souls, having nourished their inner river-rats. If this is your first time looking to experience an outdoor adventure with your dog or if you’re a seasoned professional, we welcome you into our community and look forward to hearing your stories of adventure for years to come.