Unleashing Possibility with Theresa & Cassie
As 2023 picks up momentum, we're sharing stories of dogs and humans finding ways to Unleash Possibility together. Theresa and Cassie show that with a bit of that eagerness to explore that comes so naturally to our dogs, there’s no telling what adventure you can unleash next with your dog by your side.
Whether it’s a new activity to try together or a new perspective on a well-established routine, we invite you and your dog to get out and #UnleashPossibility with us this season.
I grew up with dogs, but my family wasn't particularly outdoorsy, so we didn't do things like backpacking, camping, or hiking with them. I picked up almost all of the outdoor hobbies I do these days as an adult, and I was still relatively new at a lot of them when I started getting outdoors with Cassie.
Our first big outdoor adventure with Cassie was a 3-day backpacking trip in Goat Rocks Wilderness in 2016, just a few months after we'd adopted her. Backpacking in general was still relatively new for me and my husband (Mack).
Mack and I had only started backpacking the year prior, so adding a dog into the mix was something we were both nervous and excited about.
I was actually surprised it went as smoothly as it did. Although we'd spent a lot of time getting Cassie out on trails in the months prior, this trip was the first time she carried her own food and water, as well as the first time she slept in a small, cozy tent. She took to all of it really well.
That first backpacking trip made me realize that Cassie could start joining us on non-technical overnight/multi-day backcountry trips more often. At the time, Mack and I tried to plan 3 or 4 backpacking trips a year, so we were elated that Cassie would be able to join us for a lot of them based on how well she did on the Goat Rocks trip.
Her ability to cover large mileages in single pushes (always with prior training to keep her from developing injuries) also made it possible for us to bring her on longer (sometimes ultramarathon distance) trail runs, too.
Even before that first bigger adventure in Goat Rocks, Cassie had racked up a good deal of mileage and outdoor time through hiking and trail running. Since we adopted her in early spring and trained her for summer trips and adventures, the next step we took was getting her outside in winter. We started with snowy hikes on snowshoes and eventually graduated to snow camping with her. A few years later, we also started taking her on mellow ski tours once we got comfortable on AT skis.
It's really wonderful having so many activities that we can safely and enjoyably do with her. A bit of extra planning, prep (particularly when it comes to Cassie's gear), and research goes into these activities when we decide to bring her into the backcountry.
We allot extra time, adjust mileages, change objectives depending on conditions, etc. We take things at her pace and go into these activities with the mindset that her enjoyment is both our priority and our goal.
As Cassie gets older (she is nearly 10 years old now), she has started to slow down a little bit (although you wouldn't guess it watching her fetch a ball or chase waves at the beach). She tires more quickly on trail runs. Sustained uphill is a little more difficult.
When we first adopted Cassie, we were set on getting her outdoors as much as possible. We wanted an adventure dog capable of joining us for epic days outside. Growing with Cassie over the past few years has really shifted that perspective.
For me, "unleashing possibility" means stepping outside of the "epic adventure" box and truly appreciating any and every moment I get with Cassie. From backyard fetch sessions to lazy morning couch cuddles, these small daily moments are the ones that comprise the majority of our time together and they deserve to be savored as much as our time in the mountains.
Our big adventures together are fewer these days, but creating wonderful memories hasn't wavered in the slightest.