There are many things that have shaped who I am and how I interact in the world, but none more so than travel, at least not until I started traveling with dogs.
In 1993, Trek America changed my life. I was 24 years old when after a few weeks of training they handed me the keys to a van, 13 young people from all over the world, and $4000 and essentially said “Drive safe, have fun, and bring everyone back in one piece!” I did, and I was hooked, both on guiding and on travel. In 2000, when I loaded my dog Max on the back of my motorcycle, my life took its next big turn! That’s when I began traveling with dogs and really experienced the transformational power of combining travel and animals, and, once we got into the Canadian wilderness a week later, the trifecta was complete! The power of traveling with dogs in nature, and the connection that resulted, was unparalleled in my experience.
Last week I spent 4 days in the Redwoods of Northern California at a reunion of some of the most wonderful people that I’ve been privileged to share my life with. It was reunion where everyone was family, yet almost no one was related. The reunion was of Trek America tour leaders. There were guides from the early 70’s all the way up to folks who have only been with the company a few years now. Everyone there agreed that Trek and travel had had an amazing, undeniable positive impact on their lives and on the lives of the passengers who it had been their privilege to guide for the past 46 years.
And everyone was supportive and thrilled with the idea of Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours. Because we are all intensely passionate about travel and sharing that experience to transform people’s lives for the better, everyone felt instinctively that traveling with dogs was definitely the next step in the genesis of travel and its power of transforming lives.
I could go on about what a great experience it was connecting with old friends as well as making many new friends. Or about how Jack, who hired and trained me in 1992 and put the whole reunion together is an amazing person, role model and inspiration for me and many of us who were there. Both of those things are true and I’m incredibly grateful to Jack and everyone for their love, support and energy!
But what I really left the reunion with was clarity about the incredible transformative power of traveling with dogs in nature and an inspiring certainty that Happy Tails Tours is the most revolutionary, most appropriate and most important project I have ever worked on. Happy Tails is a culmination of my years of international travel, adventure guiding, studying dog training and learning about people and nature. It’s continued growth and success is a result of not only hard work but also trusting that the roads life has taken me down have been the right ones.
As a guide I have been blessed. I’ve gotten to experience so many amazing new and wonderful things, from cities like New York, San Francisco & Vancouver, to Bison in Yellowstone, to hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail, to spending time on a small uninhabited Panamanian island in the Caribbean watching the Pleiades meteor shower, to the northern lights in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Even better, I often get to experience those things more than once. And better still, by sharing those incredible things and places with clients, I get to re-experience everything again as if for the first time because I am experiencing it through their eyes. I get to experience the wonder and amazement and excitement, and sometimes even fear, all over again, and it just keeps feeding my soul!
Now, with Happy Tails, I get to go deeper! Not only do I get to share the world with people, but also with their dogs. Not only will I be able to experience things again through the human eyes, but also through the pure eyes of man’s best friend. And most importantly, not only have I been so deeply blessed as to have a relationship with my dogs that has transformed my life and who I am, but I’ll be doubly blessed to be of service by helping other dogs and their humans live a fuller life, together, as they have that same intense transformational bonding experience that makes life so much richer. Guiding people traveling with dogs – what more could any one person hope for?
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