MORRISON, Colo. — At the start of the new year, many of us have resolutions to spend more time outdoors. But for some Coloradans, it’s their dogs hitting the trails.
For dogs like Bugatti, Goose and Remy, their weekly hike is a social adventure.
“These dogs really love this and we joke around that I'm the field trip lady,” said Sarah Downey, owner of Adventure Pup Wellness.
When she drives up to their homes in her van, “they just come unglued when they see me. They get so excited,” she said.
While dog walking businesses have existed for a long time, hiking services like Downey’s are gaining popularity in Colorado.
“When they get out on the trail, they get to experience a part of ‘doghood’ that they kind of don't get to in the city,” Downey said.
Unlike a typical neighborhood walk, she said a hike “exhausts them more” through both mental and physical stimulation.
“It's a total pack mentality," she explained. "The same dogs hike on the same day, every week. So, they know their crew. They get really excited about it."
That routine and reliability is good for the dogs and their owners, Downey said. Many of her customers work from home or an office during the day and use the Adventure Pup service to ensure their dog will get two hours of hiking at a new trail each week. For dog owners with disabilities, who are older or otherwise don't have the ability or time to take their dogs hiking, Downey said services like hers can help.
“Working with dogs is the best, but it's seeing how much you are helping these people's families is maybe even better than that,” Downey said.
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Downey started her business four years ago. While helping rehabilitate a friend’s dog, Raja, on a mountain hiking trip, she saw firsthand how hiking in nature could improve a dog’s health.
“It was really rewarding,” she said.
Now, Downey’s "working on filling the second vehicle of dogs. And it's just the best,” she said.
Dogs of all breeds and sizes go out with her group. From their smallest dog, a 13-pound Sheba Inu, to a 110-pound yellow lab named Happy.
As her pack grows, so has her staff. Brandi Calhoun hikes with the dogs on Wednesdays, including with her own puppy Hazel.
“It's just very wholesome to have her come with me, to be able to hike with her friends, and just get outdoors and be active and be healthy," Calhoun said.
“It's 100% worth it,” she said, because the hikes allow the dogs to socialize, experience the outdoors and get exercise that leaves them tired out.
"We enjoy it too. And it's always nice to meet a new friend,” she said.
Adventure Pup Wellness is one of many businesses in Colorado taking dogs on hikes. Here’s a few others: