Rachael Rodgers does not see breeds. She just sees dogs. Big ones, small ones, old ones, and young ones – they are all dogs and deserving of love.
You might already stumbled across Rodgers’ instagram account called @trailsandbears – it is an unforgettable sight – those fuzzy faces and big noses, looking adoringly at the camera. Most of these pups are shelter dogs waiting for their furever home. Likely they are sad and nervous, but then this woman comes and takes them for a walk, hike or paddle in the Canadian Rockies. For a day, these pups lives are absolutely perfect. They smile and believe in humans again. It is clear from their expressions that Rodgers so excellently captures, that these dogs are worthy, loyal and loving.
Rodgers didn’t really set out to set up an IG account of rescue pups. It just happened naturally. She had been volunteering at shelters and she was also a photographer.
“I always try to think of better ways to do things (that goes for everything in life), so at some point I realized I had value to give to dogs at shelters with just a camera and an Instagram account” Rodgers tells us.
“People are always so surprised to find out that I take dogs out hiking from shelters. A lot of people have signed up to volunteer once they realize how easy it is to have a huge positive impact on a dog’s life.” Rodgers tells HIKE365. “If you’re a dog lover but can’t have your own dog, you can still have dogs in your life! Just sign up as a volunteer dog walker and next time you head for a hike, you can just stop in at your local shelter and take a dog with you. Trust me, they want to go for a walk.”
Rodgers’ lives the HIKE365 lifestyle. She shares this life with rescue dogs, which is something she has encouraged us all to do as well.
We sat down with Rodgers and asked her about her love for the mountains and dogs.
HIKE365: What do you love most about the Canadian Rockies?
RR: The ability to live and work in civilization while being able to escape every day to mountain tops and pristine turquoise lakes.
HIKE365: What is your favorite hike to take pups on? How do you decide which hikes are best for which pup?
RR: My favorite hike is one that I haven’t done yet. I love exploring new places (otherwise hiking seems a little tedious to me). Almost every pup can do any hike I’d do, but if they are really mellow and happy, I may try a paddle or skijoring.
HIKE365: What do you wish more people knew about the mountains?
RR: How much of an impact our presence has. As the world populates more and more humans, we need to be more responsible with our consumption of wild areas.
HIKE365: What do you wish more people knew about shelter dogs?
RR: Dogs are amazing. Each one is so unique. The only thing that makes a dog a “shelter dog” is choices that humans have made. Any dog can find themselves in a shelter at some point if his or her human sees it as the best option (for reasons that often have nothing to do with the dog).
HIKE365: Do you know how many dogs have been adopted from people who saw them on Trails and Bears?
RR: I always hear from the smaller shelters, but the big ones don’t tell me. Some adopters contact me directly after (and sometimes before and during) the adoption process. It makes me so happy to be able to follow the Instagram accounts of people with dogs I know from volunteering. I see them everyday in their loving homes living the lives they deserve and it motivates me to get up and go meet another dog who’s waiting in a shelter.
Follow Rachael at - @trailsandbears rachaelrodgersphotoworks.ca
And if you would like to adopt a pup or take one on hike – please visit the local shelters below!
AARCS - Calgary http://aarcs.ca/ Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation - Calgary https://pawsitivematch.org/ Cochrane & Area Humane Society - Cochrane http://www.cochranehumane.ca/ Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue - Calgary http://www.rockymountainanimalrescue.com/ Garcia Rescue - Cochrane https://m.facebook.com/Garciarescue/ EJ Rescue Canada - Airdrie https://m.facebook.com/EJRescueCanada/ Rocky Organization for Animal Rescue - Rocky Mountain House https://www.roarsociety.ca