The Dogs We Love: 2017 Adventure Dog Contest Winners


What does it mean to be an “adventure dog?” In our book, it starts by having an owner who takes you pretty much any adventure he or she goes on. That was the case in spades this year as we heard from people who hiked, paddled, biked, skied and ran with their dogs.



(1) WINNER: Bear

Nicole Handel’s German Shepherd, Bear, is already semi-famous. And he’s only four. Handel, who takes Bear on hikes, camping trips and pretty much everywhere she goes, celebrates each summit with a “Bear hug:” She has Bear, no small dog, leap into her arms. In our cover shot, Bear and Handel had finished a trek up to Butler Lodge on the western flank of Mt. Mansfield and then finished climbing the mountain. Handel, 24, has three jobs – teaching indoor cycling  bartending at RiRas in Burlington and her main job as a community outreach manager,  but as she says in our longer story on her in “The Story of Bear,” “I don’t have time, I make time. Often, this means that Bear, my boyfriend Adam and I wake up before sunrise to hike, camp through the night, and get back home the next day in time for work.”


copy-of-dc17-mike-and-stanton(2) RUNNER UP: Mike and Snickers

In this shot by Sarah Stanton, you almost expect to see her two pups dressed like train-riding hoboes with backpacks or poles with kerchiefs carrying all their belongings: It just says “adventure.” Stanton lives in Bolton, but when she travels, her pups go with her. This shot was taken on the tracks in East Dorset, Vt., where she was working after a hike. Mike is a 7-year-old Bassett Hound and Snickers is an 11-year-old Jack Russell terrier.




(3) RUNNER UP: Bandit

Michael Bell is the president of Sports Trails of the Ascutney Basin (STAB) and helps run the non-profit that supports trail building and recreation expansion. And his Husky, Bandit is a regular fixture on the Mount Ascutney trails, where this photo was taken. Bell writes: “Bandit is a regular at trail building days. Don’t worry about the red stains on his face—it’s just food coloring that he got into while “helping” to make sugar cookie frosting.”




(4) RUNNER UP:  Flex

Middlebury’s Kristin Fisher Meyer is brutally honest about her “Bull-Oxer” (part Boxer, part Bulldog), Flex. As she puts it: “In his three years, Flex hasn’t proved to be the most obedient, well-mannered dog.  He’s been known to be kicked out of puppy school, has run off a time or two, and managed to get sprayed by a skunk three times in one year.  He has endless energy and if you’re planning on going on a walk, you better be ready to sprint!  I first took Flex hiking this summer when I planned to hike Mount Washington, but didn’t want to go alone.  So, I took my chances and set out with leash in hand. He did amazing!  The strenuous climb was enough of a challenge to keep him focused, by my side, and still smiling. He greeted everyone on the trail politely and found my side when called.  It was great. I felt like I finally had one of those “good dogs” that I see so many Vermonters with, and I think it’s because he was truly enjoying himself! A foreigner to New England, I find it very motivating to be able to summit a peak within a couple hours, take in the beautiful scenery, and still make it down in time to take a dip in a swimming hole, all while spending time with my best friend.  Flex is a great companion to have to explore the state with!”





Dorset’s Shawn Gilfedder is Bode’s owner but he isn’t Bode’s only fan. When we asked people to vote for their Reader’s Choice on Facebook, Bode, a 3-year-old Golden Retriever got  nearly a hundred “likes” and comments such as “Bode rocks!” and “Bode is so friendly and he loves everyone he meets.” As Gilfedder says, “Bode is a regular on group mountain bike rides.  He is a pack leader and will frequently give barks of encouragement on long steep climbs. Running is his passion and there is no other place for him to be other than sharing the trails with his friends. Bode is a flatlander who has found a home in East Dorset, Vermont. He will go anywhere and has given me the courage to go anywhere … with him by my side. He is the very best dog, friend, and companion.”


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