Women and dogs make the best adventure buddies.
After all, I found my true self on the top of a mountain and at the boop of a snoot.
Since I first launched my dog photography business in Spokane six years ago, I’ve met so many other women who have stepped into their power and their confidence because their dogs showed them their true selves.
We’ve always been that dogs are a man’s best friend. Women get diamonds.
It isn’t a fair shake, I don’t think.
From pug to St. Bernedoodle, boys, we’re taking our dogs into the woods without you.
The longstanding bond between women and dogs
Once a gal falls in love with four legs and a wagging tail, it’s over.
We’re all in for our dogs.
“Naw, Shep doesn’t seem to be pooping, right. I’d better stay home.”
More often than not, I used my bubba as an excuse to avoid the madding crowds of a night out in Calgary.
Shep, 9 times out of 10, was fine. I just didn’t want to go out and needed a way to say “no” without the prodding and cajoling that usually followed.
Eventually, the invitations stopped and that was OK.
For both me and Shep.
There’s even recent science behind the bond women and dogs share. A 2021 study out of Washington State University, just down the road from me, found women have a “special” relationship with dogs.
Jaime Chambers, a WSU anthropology Ph.D. student and first author on the cross-cultural analysis, surmised in the Journal of Ethnobiology that women have also had a greater impact than men on the dog-human relationship.
“Humans were more likely to regard dogs as a type of person if the dogs had a special relationship with women,” Chambers wrote. “They were more likely to be included in family life, treated as subjects of affection and generally, people had greater regard for them.”
She and her co-authors learned that even in the earliest human settlements, women gave dogs names, let them sleep indoors and mourned when they died. Men used dogs for hunting and other tasks, but we’re the ones who showed them love.
Fitting then, don’t you think, that they repay us with some of the greatest lessons we stand to learn.
7 reasons why we belong together in the outdoors
Some studies suggest women now comprise around 45-55% of participants in outdoor activities like hiking and camping. According to the 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report by the Outdoor Foundation, the number of females participating in outdoor recreation has increased by 20 million since 2015.
And when we lace up our hiking boots, throw a couple of Clif bars into the backpack and head for the trailhead, our dogs belong by our side.
They allow us to feel more confident and empowered. Here’s how:
Dogs are naturally protective. Their presence can act as a deterrent to potential threats. While Bella may look like a gentle fuzzball, I know she can turn into a raging bitch in a hot second, ready to defend me. Wildlife isn’t even my greatest concern. Since I’ve had a Maremma sheepdog in my life starting in 2004, I don’t get approached much by unwelcome two-leggers of the male persuasion.
On the flip side, the topic of “dog” is a great icebreaker for a friendly face on the trail. A stop to say hello can be a nice way to catch a breath on a tough incline. (Just make sure you ask first before putting your hand within reach of a dog you’ve never met before.)
We have to look out for each other on the trail but ultimately how the day goes is all on me. Do I keep her on leash or not? (Yes.) Do we go down that extra trail? (Yes.) Is she safe, does she have water, is she happy? These are decisions we have to make, particularly while adventuring in the outdoors. We also have to make daily decisions about food, exercise and care. That responsibility gives us confidence in our abilities to care for another living being. Seeing that positive impact on a life can resonate into our own sense of self-worth.
4. Emotional support
Sometimes, we head out to the woods to escape the stress and trauma of daily life. Women find comfort in their dogs, often the only beings who are willing to listen without judgment and advice. They allow us the space to be head and work our shit out by ourselves. That alone empowers us to face the world with greater confidence.
I might never have become a hiker, camper, adventurer if it wasn’t for the recognition my dog needed a bigger life than what we would find in urban Calgary. I know Shep was happiest when we were in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, breathing the fresh air and drinking in the magnificent views of the Bow Valley. Our dogs can motivate us to stay active and be healthier.
Watch a dog in the great outdoors. She sniffs, she observes and she steps intentionally. The great outdoors is a huge playground and dogs have a natural curiosity and enthusiasm to explore every last inch of it. They can take us down new trails, discover hidden gems and encourage us to embrace the spirit of adventure. Women and dogs create unforgettable memories together in the outdoors, giving us purpose and relevance in a world where we often feel lost and unnoticed.
7. The Bond
Dogs are more capable of love and affection than some humans I’ve encountered (including one I see in the mirror sometimes). When women and dogs explore nature together, we learn new ways to trust each other. That in turn strengthens our bond, creating a connection that transcends words on a screen. They allow us to feel loved and when we realize we are worthy of that, we start to soar with new levels of self-esteem.
All around the circle
It is awe-inspiring to witness dogs in the outdoors, embracing their natural instincts and just being a dog.
They are innately connected to nature and when they are given the freedom to roam and explore, their joy is infectious.
And historically – as research indicates – women and dogs belong together.
Sooooooo … sorry, brodudes. Be champs and make us a couple of sandwiches to throw in our backpacks, eh? And have the beer cold for when we get home.
Now, y’all go check out my friends in the pet photographers blog circle, who are writing about best friends, like women and dogs.
Click the link at the bottom of Gina’s post to continue through the circle. When you find yourself back here to women and dogs and adventure, you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.
And if you’re looking for an adventure that’s close to home, download my hiking guide: