Today's post is something new! Over the next year, I will be featuring local pet businesses, rescue groups, shelters, and dog gurus - stay tuned, lots of great information and stories about Houston's dedicated dog community coming your way...
Today's interview is with Amy Pelkner from Canine Adventure Company. She is smart, energetic, and passionate about improving the physical and mental health of dogs through exercise. Let's meet Amy!
Me: Tell me about Canine Adventure Company. What do you offer and what makes it unique?
Amy: I offer 1- or 2-hour hiking excursions for dogs. Canine Adventure Company is similar to a dog-walking service, but with more vigorous exercise. We typically hike in Memorial Park in groups of up to four dogs of similar weight and energy level. It's great for dogs who need exercise while their parent is at work and for dogs who may not thrive in a doggie daycare setting. Pick-up and drop-off is included and does not cut into the hike duration.
Me: Why did you start Canine Adventure Company?
Amy: I used to work long hours as an architectural engineer, sometimes up to 60-70 hours a week. My dog Sammy suffered from separation anxiety, and I would often come home to accidents, damaged window blinds, and a nervous dog dripping in drool. So Sammy and I started running in the mornings before work, and the exercise and a calming supplement made a huge difference in his ability to cope when I while I was away: he was relaxed and no longer destroying my house. Eventually I left my engineering job, and Sammy and I took a 2-month, 9000-mile road trip throughout the western U.S. where we hiked and bonded. And this is where the idea for Canine Adventure Co was born.
Me: That road trip sounds amazing! What were the most memorable stops along the way?
Amy: Two places stand out to me. The first was the best dog park I've ever been to, in Missoula, Montana. The dog park is an island in the middle of the river, and it has a diverse terrain with fields, trails through tall brush and trees, and shorelines. [Ed note: it's Jacobs Island Dog Park if you're ever in Missoula.] Another favorite place was Olympic National Forest in Washington state. We completed a 10-mile round-trip hike with 3500-ft gain through a beautiful moss-covered rain forest, then rocky terrain and flowered hillsides, and finally alpine meadows with snow-capped peaks. And of course, Sammy loved every single minute of our road trip!
Me: So did you always like running?
Amy: No, until I started running with Sammy, the most I had ever run was a mile. I started running out of necessity and then came to enjoy it. Our morning runs were special one-on-one time together. In addition to running, I also dabble in rock climbing, kettlebells, and spartan races.
Me: I want my dog to go hiking. How do we get started?
Amy: First, contact me via phone, email, or the inquiry form on my website and we'll set up a free consultation where I can meet you and your dog. The next step is the evaluation, which is a 30-min individual walk/run with your dog to evaluate his energy level, leash manners, and general behavior around other people, dogs, squirrels, etc. The evaluation is important for placing your dog in a hiking group where he will be safe and happy. After the evaluation run, the fun starts and your dog enjoys regular group hikes!
Me: What's your favorite thing about your job?
Amy: I love helping other dogs and owners who are in the same situation Sammy and I used to be in. I get to improve dogs’ health and alleviate stress through exercise while giving their parents peace of mind that their dog is getting the proper exercise they want and need. And an added bonus: I get to spend more time with my own dogs throughout the day instead of sitting at a desk for 60 hours a week!
Me: What's your least favorite thing about your job?
Amy: It's a dirty job. While I don't mind the hot and sweaty summers and layers of dog slobber on my face, sometimes I get dog poop on my hands.
Me: What exciting things do you have planned for Canine Adventure Co in the next year?
Amy: As a certified Pet Tech Instructor, I now offer two Pet CPR, First Aid, and Care classes:
- Pet CPR & First Aid (5 hour class), which covers analyzing an emergency situation, CPR, rescue breathing, choking, heat/cold injuries, snake and insect bites, bleeding protocols, the snout-to-tail assessment, and more.
- PetSaver (8 hour class), which covers everything above plus caring for elderly pets and dental care.
These classes include a mix of lecture, demo, and hands-on skills and are perfect for pet parents, pet foster parents, rescue groups, and professionals.
Me: What tips would you give dog parents about walking or running with their dogs?
Amy: My safety tips are:
- Keep hydrated, both you and dog. Carry water in a backpack and bring a collapsible water bowl.
- Carry a simple first aid kit with gauze, tape, rolling bandage, and Benadryl (and know your dog's dosage!).
- Carry a small air horn. If you are approached by an unfriendly, unleashed dog that attacks, the sound may startle or scare the dog giving you time to react if necessary.