Meet the Zuke’s Pack!

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Meet the Zuke’s Pack!

We interviewed our 2019 Zuke’s Pack members to learn a bit more about why they go outside with their dogs, how it helps them bond, and of course, which Zuke’s treats they bring along on the trail. You can follow all of their adventures on Instagram for outdoor inspiration.

amber and dog ariel

Amber & Ariel

@ambpitch

Location: Upstate NY

Breed: Siberian Husky, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever Mix

Favorite hikes/activities: Hiking in the Adirondack Mountains, paddleboarding, and camping

Why do you hike? I hike with Ariel because it makes her so happy and her happiness brings me my own.

How have your outdoor adventures allowed you to bond? Our time in nature together has given us both strength, courage, and confidence, and has been where our bond to each other has grown endlessly.

What would you tell other dog parents who are considering getting outdoors with their dogs? Training is so important! It’s our responsibility to make sure our adventure dogs set a good example in the outdoors! Investing time into professional training not only allows for your bond to grow with your dog it is essential to keeping them safe in the wilderness. Training is never ending—always keep treats on you to reward your dog for good behavior while out on the trails.

Any trail tips for fellow adventure dogs? Practicing trail etiquette is so important to me. My biggest tip is to always pack treats to reward your adventure dog on the trail. The most simple courteous act for fellow hikers and especially hikers with dogs— is to recall your dog whenever you see someone coming, step off to the side of the trail, ask a sit and stay, and give your pup treats when they have their attention focused on you. This will help other hikers pass by easily and train your dog to ignore distractions and to look to you for guidance.

Most important piece of gear for outdoor adventures with your dog: Ruffwear Webmaster Pro Harness

Favorite Zuke’s Treat: Zuke’s Mini Naturals are our go to for rewarding good behavior since they are super small, fit conveniently in my hip pocket, and Ariel loves them!

kerri and goose

Kerri & Goose

@dustydesertdogs

Location: Gilbert, AZ

Favorite hikes/activities: Favorite hike is Hackberry Spring trail in the superstition Mountains.

Why do you hike? We both love nature and we both love being with each other.

How have your outdoor adventures allowed you to bond? I think all the long hours spent on the trail has made our bond even stronger we both look towards each other for support and companionship on the trail.

What would you tell other dog parents who are considering getting outdoors with their dogs? Go slow and keep things fun and positive.

Any trail tips for fellow adventure dogs? Always pack snacks and treats and of course plenty of water.

Most important piece of gear for outdoor adventures with your dog: A good set of dog booties.

Favorite Zuke’s Treat: Mini Naturals Rabbit flavor!

nancy gonzalez and dogs

Nancy, Marty & Pablo

@nancythebeat

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Breeds: Marty – Golden Retriever; Pablo – Mixed wire-haired terrier

Favorite hikes/activities: The Bridge to Nowhere is definitely our favorite hike!  But we love city dog parks as well throughout the week. The Pawsadena dog park is probably our favorite.

Why do you hike with your dog? It sounds corny, but it feels like I’m lucky to have them hike WITH ME. Seeing them so happy and free, there’s nothing else like it.  I think watching them appreciate all the little things keeps me grounded.

How have your outdoor adventures allowed you to bond?  I think camping is probably our favorite activity. We’ve done it all alone, without people in sight and it brings us closer. We’ve always been a tight pack, but when you’re out there alone for days at a time, it’s a reminder of how tight we all are. It’s like they watch over me just as much as I watch over them.

What would you tell other dog parents who are considering getting outdoors with their dogs? Bring lots of treats!  My dogs are the best, but even they get carried away sometimes. I don’t think they’re as responsive to anything else like they are snacks. I also make it a point to add a small jingle bell to their collars when we’re going out to the wilderness. It helps me know exactly where they are, even when it’s dark out or when I don’t have eyes on them.

Any trail tips for fellow adventure dogs? Trust your dogs, but leash your dogs! I don’t ever start a trail with my dogs off-leash. I think it takes loads of training and trust to get to that point.

Most important piece of gear for outdoor adventures with your dog:  A camera, of course!

Favorite Zuke’s Treat: Marty goes crazy over the Salmon Mini’s! She knows where they are before I do. Pablo seems to love all of them equally, but he hoards the Mini Trees more often.

katie pollak and dog

Katie, Quinci & Chipper

@trustyourtrail

Location: Mesa, AZ

Breeds(ish): Quinci – Jack Russell Terrier/Chihuahua Mix; Chipper – mutt

Favorite hikes/activities: Hiking, camping, paddleboarding, backpacking and climbing

Why do you hike? Because the 3 of us are most at home in the outdoors. It’s a space where we can play, relax, be ourselves and not have to worry about societal pressures.

How have your outdoor adventures allowed you to bond? We have learned to trust each other, to rely on each other. The outdoors has a way of building character and bringing people (and dogs) together.

What would you tell other dog parents who are considering getting outdoors with their dogs? Have a blast! But first, start slow. Gather knowledge, gain experience, research and always be prepared. Your dogs are counting on you to be prepared!

Any trail tips for fellow adventure dogs? Be creative! Find trails and places to explore that are off the beaten path. Use Google maps, talk to locals, study old maps.

Most important piece of gear for outdoor adventures with your dog: I’m not sure if water can be considered a piece of gear – but in the desert, it’s the most important thing to always have. We always carry too much, and it’s just enough!

Favorite Zuke’s Treat: Zuke’s Power Bone!

jen sitka and dog on beach

Jen & Sitka

@longhaultrekkers

Location: Pacific Northwest

Breeds(ish): Red Heeler mix

Favorite hikes/activities: Trail running, hiking, camping, paddleboarding, and backpacking

Why do you hike? We hike because the trails provide a quiet escape from the day to day life of work. It’s a place where we can be free and experience beautiful places.

How have your outdoor adventures allowed you to bond? When you spend hours alone in the mountains together, it can be intimidating, especially if you’re in a remote location. Being there with my dogs gives me more confidence to try new activities or camp alone that I may not otherwise feel comfortable doing.

What would you tell other dog parents who are considering getting outdoors with their dogs? Practice good trail etiquette! We all want our dogs to be those perfect off-leash companions, but it requires a lot of patience and training. As someone with reactive dogs, the trails can be a stressful place when other dogs come bounding down the trail towards us.

Any trail tips for fellow adventure dogs? Don’t let fear dictate what you do! Spending the night outdoors or hiking alone can certainly feel scary the first couple of times, but it’s one of the most rewarding activities I’ve ever done.

Most important piece of gear for outdoor adventures with your dog: Treats! We never go anywhere without treats because we are always training.

Favorite Zuke’s Treat: Zuke’s Superfood Blend


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About the Author

Jen Sotolongo is a writer, dog mom, and adventure enthusiast. If she's not home, she probably with her dogs trail running in the mountains, hiking to alpine lakes, or camping in thewoods. She is the owner of the blog Long Haul Trekkers, which provides informational articles about adventure travel with dogs. From 2015 to 2017, she bicycled across Europe and South America with her husband and their previous dog, Sora in tow. Originallyfrom the Pacific Northwest, she currently lives in Spain with her husband, Dave and their two dogs Laila, a Spanish mutt, and Riia a border collie.
Jen Sotolongo