Anyway, I may have just the thing for you: The Mutt Hutt, from Ruff Wear (www.ruffwear.com), a long-time maker of excellent outdoor dog stuff [reviewed in Outside's January 2003 issue]. It's a real little tent for dogs, keeping them dry and out of the weather, while its easy-access door lets the pooches come and go as they please. Really very clever. Cost is not prohibitive, either$99 for the large size, which probably would accommodate your two mud balls. Weight is a bit of an issue, though, as it'll add four pounds to your load. But it might be just the ticket. If your dogs are crate-trained, they'll probably take right to it. Alternatively, you could pack one of several single-pole tarps, such as the Bibler Betamid, which weighs about three pounds with the optional floor and costs $150. But the Mutt Hutt is much more dog-friendly.
For a sleeping pad inside the Mutt Hutt, get a Camp K-9 dog bed, the pet-specific version of Cascade Designs' long-popular Therma-a-Rest. The medium size should work and costs $90 (www.rei.com). No other pad neededthe K-9 is thick and soft, with a washable plush top.