Today Margie, Dozer & I spent the morning Stand Up Paddleboarding with my friend Jamie and his awesome canine sidekick Keystone at the US National Whitewater Center. Jamie and I have a lot of interests in common, especially dogs and adventure activities, even though we come from pretty different backgrounds. The important thing is that we both have learned that any adventure activity, including traveling with your dog or canine sidekick, can be intimidating if not downright scary at first. Some of us start off slower and some dive in head first. There’s no right way.
Jamie has turned into a very active backpacker and outdoor adventurer even though he didn’t grow up doing it. I grew up on a farm, rode my first runaway horse at 5 years old, and spent most of my college career road tripping around the southwest camping in any open space, and eventually ending up backpacking and hitchhiking through east & South Africa before becoming a professional guide.
Jamie and I both agreed that the key to being comfortable with any adventure activity, whether traveling with your dog or not, is to start off only as far out of your comfort zone as you can handle without making it an entirely unpleasant or traumatic experience for you, or your canine sidekick. Each of us has our own boundaries and we have to be able to take care of ourselves. Sometimes that means getting some help.
For example, when I was 20 I planned a 3 month backpacking trip to Europe with a college friend. At the last minute he had to cancel, and no way I was going alone. Luckily my mother suggested a tour. It was a brilliant suggestion. I spent 2 weeks with a group doing a kamikaze 7 countries in 14 days. After that I was much more comfortable and confident and spent the next 3 months on my own, having an amazing time. Sometimes we just need an opportunity to get our feet wet before we dive in.
It reminds me of my days teaching skiing in Taos, New Mexico. Taos is steep and deep. Its one of the toughest mountains in the US. One day I watched a lady in her 50’s arguing with her husband about going down a very advanced intermediate run. She was still at the top with the option of taking the easy run to the left. He was about 30 feet down, yelling to her: “Come on baby! You can do it!” She kept responding that she wasn’t comfortable. I skied over to her and with my back to him asked if it was her husband. “Yes, it is.” I asked, “Do you love him?” to which she replied yes again. “Do you want to stay married to him?” i asked, to which she said yes, yet again. “Ignore him and go the other way. The runs come together again half way down.” And I skied away back to my friends.
Her husband kept encouraging her even though she was obviously terrified. She kept looking from him to me, and finally turned her back on him and skied away, ignoring his calls. A few hours later at lunch, she found me on the deck and came up and thanked me. “That was the best advice I’ve ever listened to. Thank you!” Like I said, sometimes we just need a little help. She was already pushing her boundaries pretty hard just skiing at Taos. She didn’t need to prove anything and certainly didn’t need to push so much that she’d quit skiing altogether.
That’s a big part of what we want to provide to people, a place to start. We created Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours because we have seen the incredible benefits that result from experiencing travel, adventure, and especially traveling with your dog. We want to share that and help others. Whether you are a novice who wants to gain the skills and knowledge to travel with your dog on your own, or if you just want to bring your awesome canine sidekick on a series of fantastic Happy Tails Tours adventures, you will know how and that you can. Our goal is to help create that relationship between you and your dog so that they trust you, you trust them, and you both have the confidence to explore that relationship and the world in depth, together.
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