No matter how stressful life can get.
No matter how painful life can be.
No matter how troubled relationships become.
There is always one solution for me: a walk in the woods.
A study of Japanese university students found that a two-night camping trip lowered the students’ level of cortisol, our stress juice. The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.
And then there’s the experience of being outdoors with your dog. Y’all know there is no adventure for me unless there’s a dog involved. One in particular, of course.
Adventures with your dog exponentially multiply the benefits we already derive just by having a dog in our lives.
Why take adventures with your dog
I never feel closer to Bella than when we’re out on an adventure. That special bond we share becomes even more wild, carefree and soul-fulfilling.
We aren’t necessarily peak-baggers. After all, she’s turning 9 in March and our 10-mile hikes are behind us. Our doctor at Pawlouse Rehabilitation Therapy in Spokane Valley, Dr. Julie Sowa, assures us we’ll be hiking again after TPLO surgery but, considering her age, we have to look for 3- and 4-mile trails.
When we get there, I’ll be looking forward to the:
1. Physical stimulation
We both get our heart rate up and burn calories. That’s a good thing, because we’re both eaters. Bella and I are both on a see-food diet. We see it, we eat it. Keeping the weight off gets harder as we both get older but for Bella it becomes even more important now that her right hind knee has been rebuilt. Extra weight creates undue pressure on all the joints but especially one that’s held together with a plate and screws.
2. Stress reduction
Just like those students I mentioned already, both humans and dogs can reduce stress and anxiety by getting out into the fresh air. Because dogs are natural explorers — particularly enjoying the smells of everything — they are mentally stimulated by the great outdoors. Time spent in nature is also shown to increase levels of serotonin, our natural happy juice.
3. Vitamin D
When I tell some people I’m in Washington state, they naturally assume I’m close to Seattle where, more often than not, it’s wet and gray. On this side of the Cascades, though, we bask in blue skies and sunshine. Not every day. We have our share of gray but the climate in Eastern Washington is far closer to semi-arid desert. All that means we get our heaping, healthy doses of Vitamin D, which help us — both humans and dogs — keep strong bones, teeth and muscles. It can help reduce the risk of certain issues, like arthritis.
4. Memory improvement
This one is more for humans than dogs and at 51 with a few concussions under my belt, I’m pretty sure I’m a lost cause in this department. However, time spent in the outdoors can help improve your short-term memory. Marc G. Bergman at the University of Chicago compared two study groups, one that took a walk in nature and one that took a walk on city streets. A follow-up memory test showed the group that walked in nature performed better.
There will never be a day that goes by when I don’t fall deeper in love with this girl, this soul dog who has stolen my heart. She’s demanding, opinionated and defiant, three of the things I love most about her and the Maremma sheepdog in general. When we’re out on a hike, though, we take it to a whole other level. She becomes my guardian and we’ve learned to trust and respect each other by being together on the trails.
Why you should hike with an adventure dog photographer
If you take adventures with your dog, you probably stop frequently to take photos or videos with your phone, maybe even snapping a few selfies for prosperity’s sake.
The experience will change when you take a professional photographer along with you.
1. Immortalize the experience
The moment is fleeting. They always are. And the moments we spend outdoors with our dogs are always too short. If you’re at all like me, you’ve found a few locations where you might set up camp … forever. Having high-quality photos of that place, that experience, that moment gives you a picture-perfect record of the time you were there and the memories you created. Together.
2. Celebrate that bond
No matter how many selfies — cellfies? — you take, you must see your relationship through the eyes of another, the eyes of an artist, the eyes of someone who has trained herself to see The Magic Moment. Our dogs bring such joy, companionship and love to our lives and by allowing a professional photographer to share in that moment means you will have a lasting tribute to your special connection.
3. Bring the adventure home
As a photographer whose home is decorated with metal prints of her own adventures with her dog, I believe in the power of printed artwork. And I have access to the highest-quality art labs in the United States. Your adventures with your dog should be on display in your home. A glance at the wall brings a smile to your face at the end of your long, stressful day, transporting you back to that moment when you felt such joy, such abandon, such wildness.
4. It’s only yours
Sure, others have walked these trails. Others have taken photos at this location. Others have Instagrammed the shit out of this spot. But this is your adventure with your dog. Your relationship is unique to you, your moment is unique to you, and your artwork is unique to you. So instead of having a Live, Love, Bark stencil from Home Goods on your wall, have a big-ass, kickass print that says, “This is us. This is how we dog.”
Adventures with your dog are moments you can treasure for a lifetime. If you’re ready to take me on, get on my calendar for a chat about where we’ll go and what we’ll do. And how we’ll create epic images that stop your friends and family in their tracks.
All around the circle
Oh yeah, I’m getting itchy for a good, ol’ walk in the woods. I’ve had two sessions at Mirabeau Point Park in the last few weeks but it just isn’t the same.
We’ll be having X-rays done on Bella on March 13 to make sure her knee is healing properly. I wish it was sooner but this experience is helping me get a lot of behind-the-scenes work done and improve my tolerance with patience, that one virtue I’ve been missing my entire life.
In the meantime, my fellow pet photographers are blogging about whatever the hell they want this week. It’s sure to be a circle of variety.
Click the link at the bottom of Nancy’s post to continue through the circle. When you get back here to Desi’s play day in Spokane Valley, that’s when you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.