With the holidays upon us, it's time to connect with friends and family and show our love and appreciation for one another. It's also a great time to pause and celebrate how grateful we are for our canine companions. We are thankful for all of the outdoor adventures and road trips we've enjoyed with them this year. We are grateful for the quiet moments too, like snuggling up by the fire together after a long day on the go. Above all, we are thankful for the unconditional love, acceptance, and companionship these beautiful animals give us every day. In advance of Thanksgiving, we caught up with 6 dogs and their humans to learn a bit more about what makes their relationships so unique.
Laila (canine) and Jen (human) of Granada, Spain/Pacific Northwest, US
We adopted Laila earlier this year, shortly after moving to Spain from the Pacific Northwest in the US. I didn’t want a puppy, but my husband fell in love with her brindled pattern. Actually, he fell for her brother. We didn’t know she was there at first. After driving three hours to go “meet” them, we decided to bring her home.
Laila is a terror! She has an insane prey drive and loves people and other dogs so much that getting her to calm down at the sight of them is nearly impossible. So, we take her to the woods as much as we can and just let her run free. She’ll disappear into the woods for several minutes and we’ll wonder if she’s gone forever. Then she’ll come tearing down the trail the opposite direction from where she ran.
Training her has been a great distraction since losing our beloved dog Sora this fall. I have never trained a dog from the start before and it’s rewarding to see her progress and grow our connection.
Even though she’s a little wild child, I’m grateful for her companionship since our loss of Sora. She’s brought smiles to our faces and joy to our lives, even during our grief.
She is the greatest snuggler and smushes in between us at bed each night, waking us up in the morning with kisses and belly rubs. She’s also teaching me about patience, something I desperately need to practice, and I’m getting great training with her.
I may not have wanted her in the beginning, but I’m sure glad we have her now!
Follow Jen and Laila on Instagram @longhaultrekkers
I found Kobi
and some of her litter mates just over 7 years ago from a home outside of town
on the Indian Reserve. It was late October, close to Halloween and quite
cold. I had planned to find homes for the three puppies. No one wanted
Kobi - she was spoken for twice and declined after the people met her.
After adopting out Kobi’s sister and brother, I found myself wondering whether Kobi was meant for me, especially after watching a lot of Cesar Milan who always said “you get the dog you need, not the dog you want.”
My dog before Kobi died of cancer and left me heartbroken, even seven years later. I wasn’t sure if I could deal with that kind of loss again.
Kobi chewed furniture, refused to poop outside, and basically ignored all attempts at training. We began to walk and snowshoe together and she seemed to finally settle when she could exercise a lot.
Kobi has this early predator detection system built in and early on we started understanding how to communicate with each other without talking. She gives me visual cues about what she wants to do and when it’s safe to go down a trail. The first time I took her to the mountains and we ran together it felt surreal. It was like something in our DNA had been woken up and this was what we were meant to do together. It felt so natural.
I wouldn’t be running in the places I go, including the mountains, or doing half of what I currently do if it wasn’t for her. We paddle in the summer, run all year long together, snowshoe, ski and fat bike in the winter. I couldn’t ask for a better adventure buddy. She never says no and she’s always got a smile plastered on her face when we’re out together.
I’m so thankful no one else wanted her as a puppy. I couldn't imagine my life without her.
Follow Kobi and Angie on Instagram @outdoorrunning
June (human) and Todd (canine), Washington State
I adopted Todd from the Seattle Humane Society in August 2015. He was found as a stray in California, stayed at a shelter there and was eventually transferred to Washington. After months of searching, meeting several dogs, being turned down by shelters despite having grown up with dogs, having the dog I wanted to meet adopted by the person in line in front of me, I finally met Todd.
Toddy is the perfect mix of energy and calm—our favorite things to do are hit the local trails, beach trips so he can chase the waves, and snug on the couch every evening while I catch up on my favorite TV shows. I love falling asleep with him, as he always has to be touching me—he’s the perfect little spoon.
I had a lonely eight-month gap without having a pup and eventually I knew I was ready to rescue a dog and give it all the love I could. When I adopted Toddy, I had no idea how much he would change my life.
He helped heal part of my very broken heart after having to suddenly put my family dog to sleep. He got me out of a relationship I didn’t need to be in. He’s always so happy to see me that no matter how terrible my day was, and it’s instantly better once I’m with him. He’s introduced me to many amazing Instagram friends and shops that I would have never crossed paths with otherwise.
Todd is the reason I started talking to my fiancé. Because of him, I discovered my love for the outdoors once I started hiking and adventuring, just to watch him see the world.
I’m so thankful to have found this little street dog. He’s shown me effortless loyalty, companionship and true love. I am thankful that Toddy is my very best friend and heart dog.
Follow June and Todd on Instagram @june_and_todd
Nick (canine), Emily (canine) and Dawn (human), Talent, Oregon
Emily came home on my birthday in October 2010 and we brought Nick home this past September. Both dogs came from a rescue.
Together, we enjoy hiking, trail running, camping, backpacking, and dog agility.
In the summer of 2018, Emily and I hiked 1200 miles over three months on the Washington, Oregon, and Northern California sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. We walked together for so long that we forged an incredibly strong bond. She feels like an extension of myself, my heart beating outside my body.
I am so thankful for so many things about them! I am thankful for the constant companionship, no matter what adventure we are enjoying. I am thankful for the continued motivation to always get out and move to meet their exercise needs. I am thankful for all the assistance Em provides when my neurological issues flare up. I am thankful for Nick bringing joy and laughter back into our lives after losing our beloved dog Butters earlier this year.
Nick and Emily are always up for anything and I am grateful for the way their love continues to expand my heart.
Follow Dawn, Emily, and Nick on Instagram @thehikerpup
Oliver (canine) and Jasmine (human), Chino, California
After looking for a dog who could keep up on backpacking and camping trips, we found Oli from a breeder near Sacramento. I had fallen in love with cattle dogs, but the Aussie’s beautiful colors stole my heart fast!
He is definitely a Velcro dog. It’s amazing to me how much a dog can resemble yourself. Oliver has issues in new environments and I guess that’s how I feel sometimes. He lacks confidence in unfamiliar places, but in the outdoors, he is such a different dog.
Oliver was a really easy puppy, though I learned quickly how much stimulation and exercise he required. I have always loved the outdoors, but since getting Oli, I’ve learned to appreciate the small things, like the meadows or creeks we stumble upon during our hikes.
I’m thankful for his resilience. He has tough moments, but he always pulls through and that’s so motivating. I’m also grateful for how much he loves. When he loves someone, he loves to the fullest extent.
Follow Oliver on Instagram @oliblueboy
Clementine (canine), Sachi and Josh (humans), Brooklyn, New York
We adopted Clem in the fall of 2015 at a pop-up event organized by Best Friends. She came to the US after being rescued by the Soi Dog Foundation, a Thailand-based organization that rescues dogs from the meat trade industry. We had no idea this industry existed prior to adopting Clem.
We love traveling, exploring, and eating ice cream together.
Together, we have taken cross-country road trips across the US and Canada in search of the best street art, beaches, and ice cream, of course. Along the way, we made friends, created memories, and had the best adventures.
We are thankful to Clem for her love and companionship, her curiosity with the world, and her ability to adapt easily. What she went through before we became a family makes me feel like I, too can overcome anything. Her brave spirit pushes me to be stronger, not only for her, but for myself. Her curious nature gives me the drive to see and experience more of the world.
Follow Clem and find the best places to share ice cream with your dog @darling_clem
Jen Sotolongo is a writer and photographer and runs Long Haul Trekkers, a blog about independent, responsible travel with a pet. Over the past few years, she and her partner have taken their dogs around the globe including a cycle tour spanning across Europe and South America, proving that adventures can include your dog, no matter where in the world they may be.