On a Saturday morning In May of 2000 I adopted the first dog of my own as an adult, Max. He was an 18 month old, 45-pound Australian Cattle Dog. He’d been in a shelter in Delaware for 3 months minus a few weeks with a family that didn’t work out, and was scheduled to be euthanized Monday morning at 6 am.Three weeks later Max and I took off on a 1 year journey through the US, Canada and Mexico. We traveled, camping and exploring, for over 20,000 miles by motorcycle. Max rode in an airline kennel mounted onto the back, and he was the best friend and companion I could have asked for. Only twice did he refuse to get up onto the bike.
Over our 13 years together, Max, who was joined by Dozer in 2005 and Margie in 2008, traveled with me through ten countries in North, Central and South America. He and Dozer protected me at night when we camped out. They chased off the police that tried to rob us in Mexico. They have been rafting, kayaking, and tubing on the Rio Grande. They are well known amongst many of the indigenous groups we worked with in Panama and have been in many areas of the jungles that few non-natives ever visit, and they are in more tour client photos than I have.
Max was my friend and constant companion. He saved my life and he changed my life. In 2010 I took a couple of ladies on a private camping tour to a small private island off the coast of Panama, inhabited by only one family. I had always taken the three dogs, Max, Dozer and Margie on all of my tours and this was no exception. When we arrived to the coast to meet the boat for the trip to the island, I unloaded the equipment, luggage and dogs from my truck. That was apparently the first time since we had left Panama City 2+ hours earlier that the ladies had noticed the dogs. They were polite but visibly concerned. “Do you always take your dogs?” I replied that I do. “Does anyone ever complain?” I had to think back but the answer was no, never.
Over the years so many people who had seen me traveling or who had been on my tours had expressed how much they wished they could travel with their dogs, and I was grateful for my good fortune to be able to do so.
After three fantastic days on the island, the ladies approached me. They wanted to let me know that although the snorkeling was amazing, the food delicious, the island gorgeous, the people friendly, the guide excellent, and the ice cream a huge treat (I had made homemade ice cream the last night), “ … the best part of the trip was your dogs. We really enjoyed them. Thank you!”
That is when the idea for Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours was born. I knew that I had to come up with a way to help others to travel with their best friends. And, now it’s finally coming to fruition. They say that humans are attracted to pets and especially dogs because they give us unconditional love, but for me I think its because they give me the opportunity to love unconditionally!
So keep the rubber down, the wind in your hair and the tails wagging! The best is yet to come.