Dogs...some of the best adventure companions one can find. They are unmatched in their loyalty, they're always eager to be outside regardless of the weather, they're generally agreeable with their owner's sense of direction, and they can provide an additional level of safety in the outdoors. What more can you ask for in an outdoor adventure pal?
In honor of the canine companions that complete our lives and in collaboration with Tito's Handmade Vodka, we're thrilled to launch Outdoor Adventure Dogs. This five-part video series features a unique group of active adventure dogs and their relationships with their owners, who together live a life oriented around the outdoors. Beyond their association as dogs deeply connected to outdoor adventure, all of the dogs featured in the series share another important attribute: They are all rescued animals that come from either a shelter or from some other less-than-ideal situation. Whether it's a look at a photographer's trusty canine sidekick providing creative inspiration, working ski patrol avalanche rescue dogs, or "therapy dogs" that help introduce newcomers to outdoor activities that are outside of their comfort zone, Outdoor Adventure Dogs is a fun and touching window into the lives of rescued dogs that end up doing some rescuing of their own.
Outdoor Adventure Dogs begins here with Episode 1, featuring Jasper and dog mom Whitney Whitehouse, a professional photographer based out of Central Oregon. You can learn more about Jasper and Whitney's story in the interview with Whitney below.
Whitney: Honestly, your guess is as good as mine! The woman at the rescue shelter had guessed golden retriever and malamute. Some of his brothers in the litter looked very much like malamutes, and others looked more golden. Jasper has traits of both breeds: He’s very mellow, loyal, intelligent, obedient and sweet. Whatever he is, he’s 100% perfect.
Whitney: I knew I wanted a big dog who would love the outdoors and protect me when we hiked and camped alone. I’ve also been drawn to fluffy dogs, so that was an added bonus. Jasper is absolutely the perfect adventure dog. He’s happiest when he’s outside, just like me!
Whitney: Jasper is a very calm, well-mannered dog who reserves his energy bursts for the trail. He’s extremely loyal and listens to everything I say, and he’s so smart that sometimes he’ll know what I’m saying even without me saying it. He loves all other dogs. He is very shy around people he doesn’t know, but he shows a ton of love and affection once you’ve put in a little time and won him over. People are always so happy when they get to that point! He’s a mama’s boy, and he’s always cuddling me, licking my face, wagging his tail for me and showing me he loves me, which is the best feeling in the world.
Whitney: I got Jasper in July of 2014 when he was four months old and 32 pounds. Now he’s just over three years old and 78 pounds.
Whitney: I was randomly looking on Pet Finder one night for rescue dogs. I wasn't sure I was ready for a dog, but I hopped on to see what pups needed a home, and his huge smile and wonky ears stole my heart right away. He was at a rescue in Eastern Washington, which is about seven hours from where I live, and I called the foster mom to ask her about Jazz. She told me he was very calm, loving and had "an extremely special heart." I drove the next day to get him, and it was the best decision I ever made. The day I picked him up was insanely hot, about 107 degrees in Eastern Washington, and the AC was going out in my car. Jasper was clearly hating the heat, so I stopped at a park and tried to get him to lay in the shade for a minute. He wouldn’t move; he sat in one spot and smiled at me, but wouldn’t walk over to the shade. So I picked him up and carried him across the park to a little creek, hoping he’d get his paws wet and get some water. As soon as I put him on the ground he dove face first into the creek and started swimming around. At that moment I knew he was going to be a great adventure companion! To this day it’s still impossible to keep him out of the water!
Whitney: I know that he was found in Riverside, California, in a hoarding situation. I think the woman had over 20 dogs and wasn’t taking care of any of them. Animal control came in and rescued Jasper and his seven brothers, and they were unable to find a local rescue to take them, so Night Song Husky Rescue in Washington transported them up to be adopted out of their rescue. That’s really all I know.
Whitney: I’m a photographer and work in marketing. My schedule allows a lot of flexibility, so I’m able to spend a ton of time outdoors with him. It also allows me the skills to share our story and spread the message about the importance of dog rescue.
Whitney: Yes, and he’s literally the most photogenic subject I’ve ever taken photos of. I have so much fun with it that even if it is for work, it never feels like it.
Whitney: Jasper and I are always outside! We love hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, paddleboarding, he LOVES to jump into rivers and lakes (think dock dog status), anything outdoors that we can do together, that's what we love. Jasper has spent hundreds of nights in a tent with me in the backcountry, and those are some of the best nights we've ever had. He's totally content anywhere, but he really comes alive and thrives when we're outside, doing what we love. The smile on his face and the prancing down the trail show how much he really loves to be outside.
Whitney: The beauty of the Oregon coast is so diverse and dramatic. We have white sandy beaches, sheer cliffs, and rainforests all along the coast, so anywhere you go it will be beautiful. It’s also a public coast, so the entire coast is public land that you can explore and adventure on. Most states have houses lining their coasts, and only a few people get to enjoy it. In Oregon, it’s everyone’s coast.
Whitney: To be honest, we’re totally not planners. We usually decide what we’re doing one to three days before we do it and just take off in any direction. We love being spontaneous and always love going to places, but don’t plan it out too much!
Whitney: The definition of family doesn’t end at human family members. Dogs are family too, and if you do it right, you love them like they’re you’re own, because they are. Jasper taught me how to love, how to put another being before me, how to sacrifice in order to make someone else’s life better, and my life is so much better because of it!
Whitney: How do I even begin to describe what Jasper means to me...he's my life. I don't know how I was surviving without him, but I never want to go back to that life. He brought me happiness I'd never known before, he showed me how to love something more than I've ever loved before, and he's encouraged me to spend way more time outside and adventuring. I want to spend my life with him, visiting all of the beautiful outdoor places that there are to see. He's the best adventure companion because he is happy to go anywhere I go, he's content as long as he's by my side, and I'm happy as long as he's by mine. We have a relationship that you don't see everyday. We can look into each other's eyes and know what the other one is saying without saying a thing. Every day before I leave for work I tell him that I love him more than anything in the world, and I can tell you, I mean that with all of my heart.
Whitney: Rescuing animals is so important, I can't emphasize that enough. Every animal just wants to be loved, they want to be a part of a family, and they want to make someone's life better. There are thousands of animals who were given a life that they did not choose. They never asked to be homeless, and they are filled with so much love and compassion that they just want to give to their forever parents. If you rescue an animal, you're saving their life. And most likely they'll save your life in return. All pets are good for your health and can make your life significantly better, but when you get a rescue, you save an animal's life, you fight puppy mills, you get to take care of a new best friend, and you're going to change their entire life for the better. There's no better feeling in the world than knowing you saved their life and that you are giving them all your love and living out an incredible adventure with them by your side.
Whitney: Make sure you’re ready to invest your time and energy into the dog. You’re going to have to make a lot of sacrifices and make a lot of changes to your lifestyle, so make sure you’re ready and willing to do that. For example, you’ll need to take them outside every day, get them exercise, train them (maybe a lot), love them, pass on some restaurants that aren’t dog-friendly, and you won’t be able to visit as many national parks and state parks with them. You might sacrifice a lot, but the love, the connection, the companionship, and fun you will get to have with your dog will be so worth it!
Whitney: Having a dog as an adventure companion is the best, but make sure you’re always taking care of them. Be sure they have enough food and water on every adventure. Make sure they’re kept safe: For example, if your dog tends to take off, keep them on a leash at all times. Make sure they have a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Just be aware of your dog’s needs, and be sure you’re always tending to those on every adventure.
Follow along at Outdoor Project this summer, and again in November and December, for more inspiring stories about the roles our furry friends take on as beloved adventure companions. Watch the other available episodes and learn more about the dogs in the Outdoor Adventure Dogs series here: