Summertime is the best time for you to head out into the world with your best four-legged friend. Nothing beats the heat quite like a day of hiking through a forests’ trails, a road trip to a new town or the scent of salty ocean water at the beach.

Get ready for an outdoor adventure with these dog-friendly travel and activity tips:


Camping and Hiking

happy Tails tours travel with your dog
Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora, dog tour

Before heading to your nearest national or state park, make sure they allow dogs. Many parks either prohibit dogs or require them to be on leashes. You should also keep in mind the dog’s paws—rocky and hot surface terrains can injure your friend. Store-bought or homemade dog booties help prevent injury.

As with any outing, pack plenty of water, a collapsible water bowl, food, poop bags, and a dog brush. Practice ahead of time so your dog knows not to wander into other people’s campsites, chase after wild animals, or chew on any vegetation along hiking trails. Keep in mind that snakes, ticks, and poisonous plants are all active dangers to your dog’s health. In addition to bringing a first-aid kit, check in advance on where the nearest pet emergency clinic is to your campsite.

When it comes it sleeping, most dogs will be fine with just a wool blanket, but if they seem a bit skittish, a light, fabric-walled crate could provide them the extra security necessary for a restful sleep.


Water Activities

transformational tours with dogs

Dogs love the water, but make sure you’ve taught your dog to be comfortable with being in water before taking them out to do any water activities with you. Also, be aware that some breeds, like bulldogs and pugs, may have a harder time swimming because of their body structure.

Whatever breed of dog you have, when taking them to do water activities like paddle boarding or kayaking, make sure they wear a life jacket and that your board or kayak have the surface area necessary for stability and to avoid capsizing.

It’s also a good idea to get your dog comfortable with your equipment by letting them sniff it out, explore it and learn to get on and off it while still on dry land.


Traveling with dogs

When going on an adventure with your dog, you’ll likely be traveling via driving or flying.

Whether you rent a car or use your own, the process is straightforward. Bring plenty of water so they can stay hydrated during the drive and a safety harness to keep them safe in case of an accident. If your dog will be a frequent passenger in your car, you may want to invest in seat covers specifically made for dogs. Depending on what kind of vehicle you have, another great option is crating or barriers if you have a large trunk space.You should also try a test run to see if they experience motion sickness or nervousness while traveling.

If your travel happens to be overseas or prohibitively long for car travel, you and your dog may have to fly. Make sure you consult the airline you’re flying on before buying tickets to learn about any pet travel rules. Keep in mind that most major airlines also have a limit for the number of pets they can have onboard a plane and that you’ll have to pay a fee for your pet to board a plane with you.


Oh the places you two will go

Dog Adventure
What a satisfying hike! Claudia with Margie and Dozer enjoy the breathtaking views of nature.

The most important takeaway is that you should always think of your dog’s comfort and safety. For example, although many people travel with dogs, most don’t think to use a pet restraint to keep their pet safe. While seeing your dog stick their head out a car window, roam freely down a trail, or splash at fish on a kayak may seem fun and picture-perfect for you, those situations can be potentially hazardous and stressful for your dog. By taking the appropriate precautions in advance, you can help protect them and make the experience so enjoyable that they’ll be running circles around you wanting to go again.

Ready to start your adventure, but don’t know where to go? Check out one of our tour packages!

Taking Your Four-Legged Sidekick On An Amazing Adventure

Hiking invigorates the body, clears the mind and refreshes the soul. Even if you’re not particularly adventuresome, after hiking once, something in the experience just makes you want to do it again. Whether you’re alone or with friends, seeing nature at its finest always feels so wonderful and refreshing. But your best hiking companion is at home, patiently waiting by your door every time you leave! Your dog. Now the question is, where and what’s the best way for me to go hiking with dogs?

Living The Southwest Dream

The Southwest is known for its arid deserts, crimson landscapes, unique mountains and other natural wonders. When it comes to hiking with dogs, this region surely has some of the best places to offer. Read through to find out some bucketlist-worthy hiking spots!

1. Grand Canyon

I know, I know. Most national parks are not super pet-friendly, and the Grand Canyon National Park is not an exception. They allow pets, but only on the paved areas and trails. However, the South Rim of this majestic Wonder of the World welcomes dogs as long as they are leashed. There are miles of paved trails along the rim with the most amazing views you could imagine. Plus you have access to all the essential services nearby that you might take advantage of during your hike, like restrooms, restaurants, post office, and of course the ice cream parlor!

patrick hendry dog adventure in little grand canyon
Dog Adventure at the Grand Canyon
Photo by Patrick Hendry

The South Rim is open year-round, 24 hours a day. There are many trails and viewpoints to explore, with different levels of difficulty! But aside from hiking, there are  heaps of other activities you can enjoy with your dog, such as seeing the sunrise from the Desert View or the sunset from Hopi, Yaki or Mather’s Points. Even after dark, you can’t miss out on stargazing or joining one of their evening ranger programs.

2. Kodachrome Basin

From the name itself, the Kodachrome Basin State Park is known for its multi-colored and red-tinged rock cliffs and formations. This pet-friendly park allows dogs on no more than a 6-foot leash. Apart from its naturally colorful aesthetics, the Kodachrome Basin boasts 67 monolithic stone spires, popularly known as the sand pipes.

A day in this park is not enough to cover all the wonderful landmarks that it offers, from the jaw-dropping Chimney Rock, the amazing Shakespeare Arc, and campground, to the different trails that you and your dog will enjoy. They have five trails to choose from: Nature Trail, Angel’s Palace Trail, Panorama Trail, Grand Parade Trail and Eagle’s Landing Trailhead. For your convenience, they have basic facilities that you may need such as parking area, comfort rooms, restrooms, telephone access, picnic tables and more. This year, they have added camper-style bunkhouses and a full-service laundromat for tourists who wish to stay longer.

3. Bryce & Zion

Bryce Canyon National Park, United States
Photo by Luca Bravo

Did you know that it is possible to visit both of these parks in one day? YES! Bryce and Zion National Parks are just an hour and a half drive away from each other. As Utah’s first national park, Zion has definitely preserved its natural beauty along with its rich history. They allow dogs in the Pa’rus Trail, which runs for 1.5 miles from the South Campground to the Canyon Junction. Then you may proceed to Bryce Canyon, a sprawling reserve famously known for its crimson-colored rock formations shaped like spires. Pets are allowed on the paved trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point as well as all paved viewpoint areas.

Zion National Park, United States
Photo by Sapan Patel

Ready for an adventure of a lifetime?

After the successful launch of our tours in Charlotte NC, Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours has expanded into the Southwest with our Coyote 8 Day tour and we are ready to take you and your canine best friend on an amazing adventure. Beyond the happy memories, this once in a lifetime experience will transform your life and your dog’s! The Grand Canyon, Kodachrome Basin, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon are just few of the places we will visit on The Coyote – A Southwest USA 8 Day Tour. If you want you and your dog to be a part of this wonderful experience, join our waitlist at:



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How would you like to go on exciting adventures without having to leave your dog at home?

Owning a dog is not only a privilege but a responsibility that we have to take seriously. Just like having kids, they are dependent on us and we need to make time for them as often as we possibly can. That’s why for dog owners, it can seem difficult to go on long vacations, or even just to take a weekend break away from home. You can always hire a pet sitter, but admit it, you can’t go a day without worrying about your canine pal. Here’s the thing! Now you can have your much needed vacation without leaving them behind. Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours’ The Coyote – A Southwest 8 Day Tour lets you have amazing adventures with dogs and see the highlights of the Southwest all in one journey!

From the 271-mile long Grand Canyon, to the Alice-In-Wonderland-like lunar landscape of Bryce Canyon, to breathtaking Monument Valley, nothing is more memorable than eight days in the Southwest. We’ll take you and your dog hiking, rafting, kayaking, on jeep tours, and other amazing and unforgettable experiences.

Make fun memories with your best canine buddy. Join The Coyote – A Southwest 8 Day Tour waitlist at:

patrick hendry dog adventure in little grand canyon
Dog Adventure in little Grand Canyon.
Photo by Patrick Hendry


Explore the Southwest in eight days!

We start our amazing tour in Las Vegas, where you will be checked in at one of the most dog-friendly casino resort hotels. Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours owners, David Blank and Claudia Fabrega, will brief you on the next eight days’ itinerary. Then you can spend the rest of the evening exploring the Entertainment Capitol of the World with your dog.

On Day 2, we depart Las Vegas and proceed to the Grand Canyon. Along the way we’ll cross over the Hoover Dam, visit Seligman, Arizona (inspiration for the movie Cars), and dine at the wonderful and historic Snow Cap Drive-In with your four-legged pal. After lunch, we depart historic Route 66 and head to the awe inspiring Grand Canyon National Park, where we’ll spend the afternoon taking in one of the earth’s most famous and well-known geologic wonders.


It will be one of the best adventures you’ll ever have.

On Day 3 we depart the Grand Canyon with a stop at the Desert View area and the historic Cameron Trading Post. Here, you will find authentic Indian jewelry, blankets, pottery, rugs and sand paintings, all produced by the local Native Americans. Next, comes the unique beauty of  Lake Powell National Recreation Area. After having lunch at the Antelope Point Marina, we’ll enjoy a scenic hike with our dogs to the Horseshoe Bend.

On day 4, you and your canine companion are in for a wonderful treat as we navigate through the slot canyons of Lake Powell on our Private Power Boat Tour. We’ll take you to a nice sandy beach to enjoy play time in and out of the water and have a picnic lunch with our fellow adventurers. After nature comes culture. We will then immerse ourselves in the rich cultural heritage of the Dineh people in Monument Valley. A Navajo guide will take us on an amazing scenic tour within the Valley to a variety of famous filming locations.

Lake Powell, United-States Photo by Rainer Krienke
Lake Powell, United-States
Photo by Rainer Krienke

Explore nature and culture on The Coyote – A Southwest 8 Day Tour. Join our waitlist now at:


We’re just halfway through what the Southwest has to offer!

On day 5, we visit Dead Horse Point State Park where we’ll have another picnic lunch with our dogs and see some of the most spectacular views of the region. Next is the nearby Arches National Park, which serves as a home to 2,000 named arches. We finish the amazing day with an afternoon Jet Boat Ride on the mighty Colorado River through spectacular red rock canyons followed by a BBQ dinner on the banks of the Colorado River.

You have an option to go on a hike at the Grandstaff Canyon on the sixth day of our tour, which is one of the best trails for your dog. You are also free to enjoy the rest of the day exploring Moab and experience pet-friendly outdoor activities such as rafting and canoeing.


More sites to explore on our Southwest tour’s last two days.

On day 7, our first stop will be the Goblin Valley State Park, where wind and water have carved amazing goblin-like sculptures, creating a unique landscape that plays with the imagination. Plenty of rocks and coves are also available for exploration. Next, we’ll proceed to the Capitol Reef National Park for a delicious picnic lunch under the shade of towering cottonwood trees. Then we’ll enjoy a drive at Scenic Highway 12, the crown jewel of the Scenic Byways System. The rest of the afternoon will be spent exploring the beauty of the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park.

For our eighth and final day, we’ll take you to Zion National Park, where 2000-foot temples can be found. Mischievous spirits are said to live in these towers, adding to the thrill of our Southwest tour. Then we can enjoy a walk along the Pa’rus Trail, a wonderful, dog-friendly trail with a distance of 3.5 miles (round trip). In the late afternoon, we’ll travel back to Las Vegas for a final chance to experience its glitz and glamour.

Adventure in Horseshoe Bend, United-States Photo by Drif Riadh
Adventure in Horseshoe Bend, United-States
Photo by Drif Riadh




If an eight-day tour with your furry pal appeals to you, join the waitlist now for Happy Tails Tours’ The Coyote – A Southwest 8 Day Tour! Subscribe here:


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Looking for Halloween events near Charlotte? Come join us in this exciting tour.

We have just entered the first week of October, and for a lot of us, this month means Halloween. We love to dress-up as different spooky characters and prepare goodies for the kids’ trick-or-treat. For this Halloween, though, isn’t it nice to give your dog a treat too by taking them on an horrifyingly fun adventure? Because we love your dog, Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours, in partnership with PetWants Charlotte, takes Halloween to the next level with our Canine Halloween Hiking & Wine Tasting Tour and Costume Contest.

cute dog in a halloween costume
This cute lil guy is excited to join the Dog Halloween Costume Contest

We’ll start the day with a “hair-ofying” hike at the “spooktacular” Pilot Mountain State Park, where we can you can enjoy the amazing views from above the winery rich Yadkin Valley, the vast Sauratown Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains to the northwest, and the skyline of Downtown Winston Salem to the South. Rising abruptly 2,400 feet from the valley floor, Pilot Mountain has long been a navigational and recreational landmark, offering miles of trails of different difficulty levels from super easy to challenging.

Are you and your dog up for this challenge? Tickets are limited! Book our Canine Halloween Hiking & Wine Tasting Tour and Costume Contest now:


Dog Halloween Event
Put on your dog’s scariest costume. Prizes at stake!

Happy Tails wants to make this Halloween a memorable one for your dog and you!

Hike “survivors” (spooky halloween laugh here) will then proceed to RagApple Lassie, one of Yadkin Valley’s most dog-friendly and award-winning wineries, for a picnic lunch and wine-tasting. Experience local culture and savor the richness of their award-winning wines. We also make sure to give the best treats that your four-legged monsters may devour.

Then comes the main event: the HOWL-O-WIN Costume Competition, where both dogs and humans can showcase their scariest costumes. Prizes will be awarded to the:

  • Best Dog Costume
  • Best Human Costume
  • Best Human/Dog Combo Costumes
  • Best Homemade Costumes

Of course, you can’t go to Yadkin Valley just to visit one winery. After the costume contest, we’ll take you to the super dog friendly Misty Creek Winery to cap the day off with dessert and more fine wines, to be followed by the announcement of the winners and awarding of the prizes.

Dress up your dog on our Canine Halloween Hiking & Wine Tasting Tour and Costume Contest. Limited slots only! Book now:


Happy Tails Tours dog costume contest
Celebrate this year’s Halloween with your best canine buddy. Happy Tails Tours has got you covered.

Your participation will go a long way.

Ten percent of the proceeds from all tickets sold will go to either PetWants Give Match Feed Program to help feed the animals still impacted by Hurricane Florence, or to the Humane Society of Charlotte. Not only are you going to make your dog happy; you’ll be able to help other animals as well.

Humane society of charlotte logopet wants charlotte logo


The Canine Halloween Hiking & Wine Tasting Tour and Costume Contest will be on October 21, 2018, at 8am-7pm.

Celebrate Halloween for a cause with Happy Tails Tours and PetWants Charlotte on our Canine Halloween Hiking & Wine Tasting Tour and Costume Contest. Book a slot HERE.


Canine dog halloween costume contest
Help an animal in need. Book the Canine Halloween Hiking & Wine-Tasting Tour and Costume Contest now.


  • Traveling with your dog!
  • Hiking in pilot mountain state park
  • Incredible mountain views
  • Wine tastings
  • Transportation to/from Charlotte
  • Wine tastings in 2 wineries
  • Picnic lunch, snacks, drinks, & dog treats
  • Tour guide
  • Prizes


To find out more about our tours:

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If you’re looking for Asheville tours, or just planning for the next adventure with your dog, then you have come to the right place!

After the successful launching of Howl At The Moon and The Fox adventure tours, Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours yet again kicks off an amazing tour that your four-legged canine pal will surely love. Two days of pure fun and relaxation with just you, your dog and like-minded adventurers on The Hound – Asheville 2 Day Tour.

From Charlotte, we will head westward and upward, into the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chimney Rock State Park. Admire the amazing 75-mile vista overlooking the Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Following an invigorating morning hike, have a picnic lunch with your canine buddy and relax in the presence of nature. Then we will proceed to Asheville, where more adventures await.

Let’s hike at the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chimney Rock State Park on The Hound – Asheville 2 Day Tour! Book now before slots run out:

Hiking with Dog
Living the life! Our canine buddy is on top of the world – literally and figuratively.

Why Asheville?

You’ll never have to worry about the welfare of your dog – Asheville ranks second in the USA’s most pet-friendly towns. With its great climate, fine dining, wineries, breweries, and wide variety of outdoor adventures to choose from, your dog and you will definitely be living the dream.

Discover public art and shop to your heart’s content in Asheville’s walkable downtown. Happy Tails Tours will also take you to the finest, dog-friendly pubs and breweries, where you can spend a laid-back time with your canine pal. Then for dinner, you can pick any location you want. This growing city never runs out of delicious and unique restaurants to try, for tourists and locals alike. Dogs are welcome too!

After an exciting day of hiking and exploring Asheville, rest your tired feet and spend the night at one of Asheville’s most pet-friendly hotels. Happy Tails Tours got you all covered.

What’s a dog-friendly city like? Book our The Hound – Asheville 2 Day Tour to find out:

Asheville Tours
Having a blast in the snow. The cold never bothered Margie and Dozer.

The second day will be just as fun as the first one! A variety of activities are in store for your dog and you.

David, the owner of Happy Tails Tours himself, will take you on a guided walking tour around historic parts of Asheville. You can also explore downtown or paddleboard with your dog on the French Broad River. Then we’ll take you on a leisurely trip back to Charlotte after lunch. Depending on the season, we can finish off this amazing tour with apple-picking or wine-tasting at one of North Carolina’s award-winning, most dog-friendly wineries.

Top Dog Tours
“Row faster, dad.” Margie and Dozer having the time of their lives with David.

Sounds good? We only have TWO SCHEDULES LEFT FOR THIS YEAR (Oct. 3 & Nov. 7)!
What are you waiting for? Book now:


To find out more about our tours:

Don’t forget to share this article with your dog lover friends and like us on our  Facebook page:

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This will be one of the best dog adventures you’ll ever experience!

Imagine hiking on the Pilot Mountain, taking in the greenery and the spectacular views of nature. After this hike, you are to proceed to the finest wineries in Yadkin Valley, where some of the best wines are produced. Now, imagine experiencing this whole adventure with your canine pal. Sounds wonderful, right? We have a great news for you! Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours brings this idea to reality with our The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting tour.

The adventure starts with a morning hike at Pilot Mountain state park, where you can enjoy the amazing views from above the winery rich Yadkin Valley, the vast Sauratown Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains to the northwest, and the skyline of Downtown Winston Salem to the South. Rising abruptly 2,400 feet from the valley floor, Pilot Mountain has long been a navigational and recreational landmark, offering miles of trails of different difficulty levels and camping areas. Because we care for your dog, we organize hikes that are guaranteed dog-friendly.

Hike with us and see the world in a different perspective on The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting tour. Book now before slots run out:

Best dog
This is the life! This furball and his dad makes it to the Pilot Mountain.

Happy Tails makes sure that you and your dog are given an experience of a lifetime!

After the hike, we’ll have a picnic lunch at one of the award winning wineries on the days itinerary. We pack treats for your four-legged buddy as well. These are all part of the The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting tour package, making sure that every experience is not only dog-friendly, but also dog-focused.

The fun doesn’t end there. As a highlight of the afternoon, we are taking you to two of the finest wineries in Yadkin Valley. Experience local culture like you’ve never had before and savor the richness of their award-winning wines. Whether you are with a group or just traveling with your furry companion, this is surely an experience you would never want to miss.

Discover the best local dog-friendly wineries in Yadkin Valley on The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting tour. Book now before slots run out:

Pet Friendly
Time for wine. Our fur parents enjoy a laid-back afternoon in one of the best and most pet-friendly wineries in Yadkin Valley.

Happy Tails proudly specializes in unique small-group tours with a highly specialized service and great attention to detail.

We are meticulous in terms of tour preparations. We commit to providing the best adventure tour service and at the same time transforming the lives of each client through a shared meaningful experience with their dogs. Our passion for dogs and adventures makes The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting a tour with a heart and purpose.

For this year, we have seven tours left on our schedule for The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting. These are on September 3, October 7, 14, & 21. Book now before it’s too late!

Hiking With Dog
It’s a day of pure bliss for these dogs and their humans. Adventure + dogs made possible by Happy Tails Tours.
  • Traveling with your dog!
  • Hiking in Pilot Mountain State Park
  • Incredible mountain views
  • Wine tastings
  • Transportation from Charlotte
  • Wine tastings in two wineries
  • Picnic lunch and dog treats
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour guide with 20+ years experience

Take your adventures to a whole new level on The Fox – Yadkin Valley Hiking & Wine Tasting tour. Book now before slots run out:


To find out more about our tours:

Don’t forget to share this article with your dog lover friends and like us on our  Facebook page:

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Happy Tails Tours is about having fun while building a deeper relationship between dogs and their humans.

It is every dog owner’s responsibility to take their canine pals out on a regular basis, for exercise as well as for their necessary functions. And while we love our dogs very much, we can’t deny that sometimes it can feel a bit tedious and routine to have to walk them. If dogs could talk, they would tell you that it bores them as much as it does us. But what if I were to tell you that there is a fun way to get their furry legs moving? If you’re living in or around Charlotte, we’ve got you covered! Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours can bring your dog and you on a night full of adventures and amazing experiences. This blog about our Charlotte Tours will give you insight on what to expect and how you can take part in this fantastic and life-changing experience.


Charlotte Tours: Howl At The Moon - Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure
Two of our friends, with their canine pal, explore the river under the full moon.


LAST CHANCE TO JOIN The Howl At The Moon – Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure tour for this year!
Sept 21 & 22, 2018  Book Now:


We offer a variety of wonderful tours, and one of them is the Howl At The Moon – Full Moon Kayak & Stand Up Paddleboard Adventure. Yes, you’ve read that right. Happy Tails is taking you to the Catawba River to enjoy different water activities while bathing under the full moon. Kayaking and SUP are no longer just for humans; dogs can now enjoy them too.

Charlotte Tours: Howl At The Moon - Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure
These furballs are having a wonderful, relaxing time on their mom’s lap.

As a tour guide for 20 plus years who bring my dogs on every tour, our co-founder David and his wife Claudia always see to it that the safety of my tour companions is given the utmost importance. Hence, for this Howl At The Moon – Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure tour, which begins at Tailrace Marina at 7:00 in the evening, we start off with a dog and human meet and greet and snacks for all. Next, we have a safety briefing and then get everyone set up in their kayaks or on their SUPs, with all the needed equipment, and then get going. The real fun begins after this, as we paddle and explore the river with our canine best friends.


Charlotte Tours: Howl At The Moon - Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure
Not scared at all! This brave soul is ready to conquer the river.


Whether kayaking and SUP is your thing or not, there is nothing to worry about. We can teach you how to get on your boats and paddleboards. Or you can explore the beauty of nature with your dog under the full moon’s natural light. This is a rare opportunity for your furry buddy and you to marvel at the nocturnal beauties around the river. You can also have a picnic with your four-legged buddy while basking in the incredible view of nature.

Charlotte Tours: Howl At The Moon - Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure
David (red kayak), guides and bonds with the group and their four-legged buddies.

While it is a dog and human-focused tour, you do not need to bring a dog in order to participate.

We understand that you might just want to hang out with like-minded adventurers and their canine pals. We could even offer you a dog-for-the-day if you would like!

Our dogs are special, and they deserve to be treated and pampered at least every once in a while. So, join our next Happy Tails Howl At The Moon – Full Moon Kayak and SUP Adventure this September 21 & 22, 2018.

You can book it here

Don’t miss out because these are the LAST HOWL TOURS OF THE YEAR!

Charlotte Tours: Howl At The Moon - Full Moon Kayak & SUP Adventure
This dog surely loves the river.


Book the tour now to explore the light of the full moon kayaking & SUP with your dog ? this coming Sept 21 & 22, 2018

To find out more about our tours:

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Traveling is always a great idea. It gives us a whole new perspective that can never be found within the four corners of the office, or even at home. It allows us to start new friendships and renew bonds among old friends. Most importantly, it helps us reconnect with nature and transform our lives for the better. However, for some fur parents who can never leave their beloved dogs alone, traveling seems to be a far-fetched dream.  But hey, news flash: Traveling is not just for humans anymore! We at Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours offer you fun things to do in Charlotte NC and a chance to spend time with your four-legged buddies in nature, rather than having to leave them at home. Not only are we dog-friendly; we are dog-focused. We want them to get as much out of the experience as you are!

Demetria Mosley of the Gaston Gazette writes about fun things to do in Charlotte, NC, and in her article about our Howl At The Moon Tour, writes about our humble beginnings and the common love for dogs and adventures that made Happy Tails Tours what it is. It’s an honor to share how our three cherished canine family members transformed our lives and helped us reconnect with nature. We want you to experience the same too, and for that we are organizing a Howl At The Moon tour by North Carolina’s Catawba River. This event will be on September 21 & 22, 2018.


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There are many things that have shaped who I am and how I interact in the world, but none more so than travel, at least not until I started traveling with dogs.

In 1993, Trek America changed my life. I was 24 years old when after a few weeks of training they handed me the keys to a van, 13 young people from all over the world, and $4000 and essentially said “Drive safe, have fun, and bring everyone back in one piece!” I did, and I was hooked, both on guiding and on travel. In 2000, when I loaded my dog Max on the back of my motorcycle, my life took its next big turn! That’s when I began traveling with dogs and really experienced the transformational power of combining travel and animals, and, once we got into the Canadian wilderness a week later, the trifecta was complete! The power of traveling with dogs in nature, and the connection that resulted, was unparalleled in my experience.

Trek America 2018 Reunion Group Picture
Trek America 2018 Reunion Group Picture

Last week I spent 4 days in the Redwoods of Northern California at a reunion of some of the most wonderful people that I’ve been privileged to share my life with. It was reunion where everyone was family, yet almost no one was related. The reunion was of Trek America tour leaders. There were guides from the early 70’s all the way up to folks who have only been with the company a few years now. Everyone there agreed that Trek and travel had had an amazing, undeniable positive impact on their lives and on the lives of the passengers who it had been their privilege to guide for the past 46 years.

And everyone was supportive and thrilled with the idea of Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours. Because we are all intensely passionate about travel and sharing that experience to transform people’s lives for the better, everyone felt instinctively that traveling with dogs was definitely the next step in the genesis of travel and its power of transforming lives.

David Blank of Happy Tails Tours in the Trek America Reunion at Redwoods California

I could go on about what a great experience it was connecting with old friends as well as making many new friends. Or about how Jack, who hired and trained me in 1992 and put the whole reunion together is an amazing person, role model and inspiration for me and many of us who were there. Both of those things are true and I’m incredibly grateful to Jack and everyone for their love, support and energy!

dog hammock adventure tours

But what I really left the reunion with was clarity about the incredible transformative power of traveling with dogs in nature and an inspiring certainty that Happy Tails Tours is the most revolutionary, most appropriate and most important project I have ever worked on. Happy Tails is a culmination of my years of international travel, adventure guiding, studying dog training and learning about people and nature. It’s continued growth and success is a result of not only hard work but also trusting that the roads life has taken me down have been the right ones.

As a guide I have been blessed. I’ve gotten to experience so many amazing new and wonderful things, from cities like New York, San Francisco & Vancouver, to Bison in Yellowstone, to hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail, to spending time on a small uninhabited Panamanian island in the Caribbean watching the Pleiades meteor shower, to the northern lights in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Even better, I often get to experience those things more than once. And better still, by sharing those incredible things and places with clients, I get to re-experience everything again as if for the first time because I am experiencing it through their eyes. I get to experience the wonder and amazement and excitement, and sometimes even fear, all over again, and it just keeps feeding my soul!

Trek america 2018 reunion with all the tour leaders

Now, with Happy Tails, I get to go deeper! Not only do I get to share the world with people, but also with their dogs. Not only will I be able to experience things again through the human eyes, but also through the pure eyes of man’s best friend. And most importantly, not only have I been so deeply blessed as to have a relationship with my dogs that has transformed my life and who I am, but I’ll be doubly blessed to be of service by helping other dogs and their humans live a fuller life, together, as they have that same intense transformational bonding experience that makes life so much richer. Guiding people traveling with dogs – what more could any one person hope for?

Simply book one of our amazing tours at and show up with your dog. Nature, your dog, and Happy Tails will take care of the rest!

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How a special dog’s life helped inspire an entrepreneur to launch an adventure tour company that includes man’s best friend.

By Lisa Cedrone

Sometimes a story grabs hold of your heart, and that’s exactly what happened to me three years ago when I read about David Blank and his dog Max in Wendy Cooper’s animal communication e-newsletter ( When I later reached out to David to share his story in Transformation Coaching Magazine, he wanted to wait until launching an adventure tour company that was inspired by his world travels with Max. Time rolled along, David and I touched base occasionally, and the original email held a steadfast place at the bottom of my inbox, never forgotten.

Good stories, like successful business plans, take time to come together—and this one did when David and his wife Claudia Fabrega, along with their dogs Dozer and Margie, opened Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours in April 2018 ( The Charlotte, NC-based business offers a wide range of canine-friendly outings and trips from a four-hour “Howl At The Moon” full moon kayak and paddleboard tour to an eight-day adventure throughout the U.S. Southwest.

“Max was and is the inspiration for a lot of things in my life. He was a true part of me.” – David Blank

A professional tour guide and canine trainer, David has been to all but one of the 50 U.S. states and 45 countries since starting his travel guide career in 1993. He has lived and worked in countries including Panama, Ecuador, China and France, and he even once hitchhiked from the United States to Guatemala to learn Spanish. While in Panama in 2007 he met Claudia, a native of the country and an attorney with a master’s degree in Maritime Law. At the time, both Max and Dozer were part of David’s family, and Claudia fell in love with them all.

Claudia and David married in 2009, but this story actually begins in 2000, when David was laid off from his job in marketing at Rosenbluth International, a large Philadelphia-based travel management company, not long after completing his MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management. David was looking for a new job when Max entered the picture, and he helped David to change the direction of his career, fuel his lifelong passion for travel and adventure, and plant the seeds for Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours.

“I had known for years that I wanted an Australian Cattle Dog,” says David. “The rescue organization wouldn’t give me one because I lived in an apartment, but they knew I had done my research. Then one Friday, a woman from the rescue called me about Max. He had been in the shelter for three months as a stray, and no one knew his background. He was about 18 months old and 48 hours from being euthanized, and from the minute we left there together, Max never willingly left my side or let me out of his sight.” 

A few days after bringing Max home, David was offered a job with a new company. It was an excellent opportunity with a stake in the business, but it would require up to 80-hours per week at a desk. David accepted.

Later, when he returned home, David found that Max had destroyed some of his favorite things. David was upset but, after almost two years in a corporate job, he realized that Max was trying to tell him something important: He didn’t want to spend all of his time inside working in an office. And the dog was right. David called the company back and said he had reconsidered and…

instead of becoming chained to a desk, he took off on a one-year motorcycle journey through the United States, Canada, and Mexico with Max in a large crate on the back of his bike.

…They traveled over 20,000 miles on that trip, and it was the beginning of a heartfelt relationship that lasted until Max crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” at 14 and a half years old.

This quote, from the original story posted by Wendy Cooper (, puts it into perspective:

“Max traveled with me through 10 countries in North, Central and South America. He has been rafting, kayaking, tubing on the Rio Grande, and he flew to South America. He protected me at night when we camped out. He attacked the police that tried to rob us in Mexico. And he was my friend. Max saved my life, and he changed my life.”

“Pets often come into our lives as our spiritual guides, best friends and constant companions.”

They can inspire us—and they also can serve as life coaches or even business partners, as in David and Claudia’s case. I had the chance to ask David some questions about his love of the outdoors and animals, what our pets can teach us, and how he turned his soul’s calling into an entrepreneurial business venture. Here’s what he has to share:


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Transformation: Tell me about your passion for exploring/traveling and the outdoors?

David: I have always loved to travel. When I was in college in Boulder, Colorado, I did a lot of road trips around the Southwest to climb, ski and camp. When I was 20, I went to Europe for four months by myself and backpacked. Then the travel bug really hit me when I was backpacking through East and South Africa in 1992 with my friend Celine. We met a 7-foot tall New Zealander named Rob who was an overland tour guide, and once I learned that I could get paid to travel I was hooked. I began working for a company called Trek America in the United States in April of 1993.

A friend once asked me why I do all the crazy things I do. After some serious consideration, I responded:

“I do the things that others are afraid to do because I’m afraid to do the things that others do!”

I’m not made to sit at a desk. I grew up on a farm and I guess that my love of animals, and being outdoors is part of me.

I remember my first week of graduate school. They put us in cohort groups, and the first day we had to tell the person next to us who we were in two minutes, and then that person did the same, and then we introduced each other to the rest of the group. My partner Aaron stood up and said: “This is David, and I don’t know what else to say about him other than he’s been doing what we all wish we had been doing with our lives for the past three years!”

At that moment I felt the weight of the world come off of my shoulders. While living the life of my dreams, traveling all over North America, I had been hearing my father’s voice in the back of my mind saying, “That’s great! I’m glad you are having a good time. But when are you going to get a real job?”

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the confidence or self-awareness at that time to realize that what he should have said and—more importantly—what I should have said to myself was,

“You seem to be really good at this, and you obviously love it! Why don’t you see if you can figure out how to make this gift your life’s work?”

It would be another six years before I would go back to guiding, working as a raft guide and ski instructor in Taos, New Mexico in 2003.


Transformation: Tell me about your relationship with Max and dogs in general?


David: Animals are incredibly powerful beings that help us to connect with nature and with our true and often better Self. People often say of rescue animals, “Who saved who?” There is no question that Max transformed my life. Taking off on a motorcycle with him one month after the adoption was an amazing adventure. I don’t think anything can be a better bonding experience for a dog and a human than traveling together.

Dogs in beach adventure tours
Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours founders David Blank and Claudia Fabrega, along with their dogs Dozer and Margie (in front)

Dogs, like humans, are pack animals. They are always testing us to make sure that as the leader we can be in charge and take care of things. It’s in their nature. They do it in their own packs in the wild. In the Mask of Masculinity, Lewis Howe writes: “If you don’t [project an image of strength or confidence that other people can lean on], the people around you feel anxious, scared or unprotected.”

A weak leader is a danger to the pack, just like a weak mind is a danger. Over the years I’ve often heard that negative voice in my head, which I see as a self-protective construct that develops in childhood. It’s always testing to see if it needs to protect; if I am not in charge, it can and will take over—and nothing good seems to come from it. So it is with dogs. Many times dogs’ behavioral issues develop because we don’t know how to communicate clearly to the dog: “I have this. It’s no big deal. Everything is cool.” That’s why Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours is so transformational. It’s all about building that strong relationship through clear communication with our dogs and our true Self—and really connecting.


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Transformation: How was Max the inspiration for starting Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours, and what other factors played into starting the company?


David: Max was and is the inspiration for a lot of things in my life. He was a true part of me. But the company is bigger than even Max because it’s about our relationship and about helping others to have that same type of experience, that type of relationship. It’s about my amazing wife Claudia and how we are creating our vision of spending our life traveling with our dogs and sharing our passion with others, transforming their thinking and their lives. It’s about me finally coming out of hiding, letting go of trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be and do, and instead embracing who I am as an adventure travel guide and a person.

I have been blessed in my career as a guide to frequently have clients tell me things like, “You were the best guide we’ve ever had.” For me, being a good guide is easy because I love it so much. However, I never really took those compliments and my gift into my heart. I guess I always felt I was doing something inferior because I wasn’t in an office making big money, living up to my “potential.”

“I never realized until now that doing what I love and utilizing my gift is actually important and is a service of great value to people.”


Transformation:  What advice can you give to other people looking to merge their passion with purpose into a business?


David: Never give up on your dream and never quit. I’ve tried a lot of things in my life. I gave up a lot. Recently, I realized that the only way we could fail with Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours is if I give up. I keep reminding myself that successful people move from one failure to the next with enthusiasm. And they write—a lot. Write about why you want to do it. I’m not talking about a business plan. Just write and eventually your true passion and dreams will come out.

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Lisa Cedrone is the editor of Transformation Coaching Magazine and a freelance editor, writer and graphic designer based in Sarasota, FL. She also currently serves as the executive director of the C. G. Jung Society of Sarasota and was an editor in chief for two of the “Top 10” business-to-business publisher in the United States. Contact her at Lisa@

View this article in Transformation Coaching digital magazine July 2018 issue.