Ambassador Highlight: Meet Jenny Bruso and Big Judy

Posted by Jenny Bruso, founder of Unlikely Hikers on 17th January 2022

Jenny Bruso and her pup Big Judy are no strangers to adventure. Most recently, they completed a month long road trip from Oregon to Vermont, hiking every place they could together. We caught up with these Kurgo Ambassadors and asked them their favorite tips, tricks, and places they'd like to go.

Jenny and Big Judy looking at eachother on a trail. Jenny is wearing a blue Kurgo hat and black winter jacket. Big Judy is wearing a blue Journey Air Harness.

How did you “meet” Big Judy?

Meeting Big Judy feels truly clandestine and that isn’t hyperbole, especially for what was about to come next for all of us worldwide. It was just a few days before Christmas 2019. My partner, Brie, and I woke up hungover around 2pm. We were both dealing with intense depression that was, at that time, often soothing it by alcohol. 2019 was a year full of tragedy for my immediate family. The cancer and heart failure off-railing my loved ones had me frozen in place most days. Every moment was filled with fear over who I might be losing. That day, I felt like I needed the comfort of my old standbys: Phở at our favorite Vietnamese place and a visit to the Humane Society to love on dogs and fantasize about who we would take home.

Big Judy, not her name at the time, was 2 kennel units in from the door. I kneeled to the ground and looked deeply into her brown eyes while she wiggled and squealed. She was the happiest being I had ever met. I turned to Brie and said, “I need this dog.” Brie started going through the same old story of why we can’t right now and I said it again, “I need her,” and Brie shockingly said, “well, let’s see if we can spend some time with her and see.”

Big Judy bounded into that visiting room and jumped all over us like it was a reunion. I felt like I was being blessed by something so good and pure, like in her eyes, I was really someone.

We found out she had been on the adoption floor for just minutes and we were the first to visit with her. There was nothing, no logistics in the world, that would keep me from taking her home with us and to our two cats that would definitely hate us for a while. I knew I would do absolutely anything for her.

And I did. And she has given us the best reasons to not drink the way we were, so we can be at our best for her every day. Even when we’re sad and depressed, Big Judy always brings us happiness. She is the best part of every day.

Judy is taking a break from playing at the dog park and posing for the camera. She is wearing a blue Journey Air Harness.

Favorite activity with your pup?
Our favorite activity is walking at this giant, thousand-acre dog park with miles of trails and river access near where we live in Portland, Oregon. Well, I walk. Big J is usually running as fast as she possibly can back and forth for her ball or chasing and being chased by other dogs. We go there rain or shine and in the colder months I have to do all I can to steer her away from the river. Sometimes, unsuccessfully. It’s funny because she’s obsessed with water, just like me, but she’s very insecure as a swimmer. It’s something we’re always working on. Her determination is inspiring. I’m so proud of her it often brings me to tears.

Brie (they/them) and Judy (she/her) take a break on a log while hiking on the Leif Erickson trail in Oregon.

Do you have a favorite local hike?
When we aren’t walking at the mega dog park, I take her on wider trails close to home, like the Leif Erikson trail in Forest Park. We are privileged to have access to so much nature. Many people don’t have this kind of access where they live and that makes it tough to exercise a high energy dog. We choose wider trails because she still has a tendency to want to jump on folks out of excitement and as a medium-sized Pitbull mix with big dog vibes, it’s a priority that we’re able to give space to other trail users. How can anyone know that she only wants to love on them? We’re working on her behaviors all of the time and she’s so smart that she often gets new things on the first or second try, but when she sees people and other dogs, her excitement still gets the best of her. It’s important to Brie and I, as her people, to consistently manage this behavior.

Jenny and Big Judy sit outside their parked SUV. It is a bright, sunny, Fall day.
Any outdoor plans you’re looking forward to this year?
We live a very outdoorsy lifestyle so there’s always something to look forward to. Camping, backpacking, hiking, getting out into snow or hanging out on beaches. Recently, I took Big Judy on a month-long road trip and she was a champ! Mostly… We learned a lot of lessons about what to prepare for next time. Particularly on that one pitch-black night somewhere in Ohio when she slipped her harness as we were getting ready to turn in for the night. She ran off out of sight and rolled in some kind of poop. We had to bathe her with the rest of our drinking water on the fly and did I mention we were sleeping in our car that night? Ugh. That was a kind of a nightmare.

Thankfully, we now have the Kurgo Go Portable Dog Shower and we will never be leaving home without it again. We also keep an extra harness, leash, collar and dog shampoo in the car at all times.

Jenny's partner Brie (they/them) poses with Judy (she/her) on a sunny, mountain trail.
What is your favorite Kurgo product?
I can’t pick one favorite because we rely on so many every single day. Our daily go-tos are the Journey Air Dog Harness, RSG Collar, and Humble Dog Leash. In the car, our musts are the Coast to Coast Hammock and Direct to Seatbelt Tether. I also want to add that she looks adorable in the K9 Core Sweater. We’re really lucky that Judy will put up with us putting her in clothing.

Jenny (she/her) dancing with Big Judy at the dog park.
What do you love most about being a Kurgo ambassador?
Honest answer? Showing off my amazing dog. I mean, have you seen her? More seriously, Big Judy’s needs and safety are covered by Kurgo products. I have complete confidence in their durability and performance and that’s a big reassurance for our busy, active girl.

Jenny Bruso (she/her) is the founder of Unlikely Hikers, an outdoor community that features the underrepresented outdoorsperson. You can also follow Jenny and Big Judy's adventures on Instagram @jennybruso.

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