Ode to Adventure Dogs
Story and Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Mallory Paige
Maybe it was all those times watching Old Yeller as a kid, or maybe it was somehow ingrained in my DNA all along, but I always had this dream of tackling life’s adventures with a yellow lab sidekick. As a child I imagined we’d go everywhere together. Laugh together. Cry together. Explore together. Do most everything together.
And when Baylor came into my life a decade ago, I knew that dream would finally come true.
He was there when I graduated college. At my side as we moved across the country full of hope and love. And again when we fled sad and heartbroken.
He was there when I summited my first Colorado 14er, when I learned to guide a raft down the raging rivers of frigid mountain snowmelt and when I bicycled across town. He was game to go fishing in Alaska, happy to road-trip through the California redwoods and just as content snoozing at my feet.
He’s happily lived in a crowded co-ed apartment, a cramped city house, a vintage VW van, a tiny home on wheels and, for the past year, a tent on the back of the motorcycle-sidecar.
There are times riding across North America when we travel alone for months on end. Days when the only person I speak to is Baylor. Countless times when I opt out of activities, completely change plans because Baylor, a dog, is not allowed to participate. The truth is I plan my schedule around his needs and worry more often about his comfort than my own.
Some people think I’m crazy for dedicating such time and attention to an animal. They shake their head in confusion and wonder why I don’t just leave him home while I adventure into the world.
But you, well I know you get it.
These dogs of ours aren’t just animals. Certainly not mere pets. They’re our best friends, adventure buddies, trusted confidants and go-to sidekicks.
Sure it takes time, effort and care to share our lives with them, but at the end of the day they give back so much more than they ever take.
Day after day they greet us with unmatched enthusiasm. Sit stoically through repetitive rants. Forgive our shortcomings and love without bounds. They make us laugh uncontrollably in the good times and cheer us up during the hard ones. They adventure with enviable vigor – running down trails, sprinting after bikes, floating down rivers. Follow us without pause. Look at us with trusting eyes and happily leap into the unknown at our go ahead as if to say, “I believe in you. We’re in this together and if you say it’s okay then it must be.”
So here’s to all the furry friends that keep us going. To the dogs – big, small, wicked smart, ultra silly, young, old, mischievous and loving – that are friends and family. This is to you.
Because my dog is so much more than just a pet. My dog is my CoPilot and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mallory Paige is a Storyteller and Adventurer. As creator of the popular Operation Moto Dog adventure, she has spent the past 18-months traveling and camping her way across North America on a motorcycle-sidecar with Baylor the Dog, proving you don’t need to be fearless or perfect to live your dreams.