2021 Adventure Dog Contest Winners

If there is one thing we know about the folks who read Vermont Sports, it’s this: your dogs are your best adventure buddies. Each year we get a huge outpouring of stories and photos for our annual Adventure Dog Contest. And each year, your images get better and better.

We look for great action, cool settings, dramatic lighting. But also for images that showcase a dog’s personality and great stories that tell us how your dog makes some of your outdoor adventures — be it hiking, camping, skiing or biking — that much better. 

Our long-time partner Pet Food Warehouse of Burlington has again offered prizes ($75 gift certificates) for each of the category winners and Reader’s Choice winners. 

It wasn’t easy choosing the semifinalists from so many incredible entries (and if you didn’t get chosen this year, we encourage you to submit again next year.) We winnowed it down to semifinalists in three categories (Action, Adventure and Face Shots) and then had you, our readers, vote for the Readers’ Choice awards on social media.

However, it’s not just a popularity contest. The ultimate decision was made by our editors and art director and we show the five top finalists in each category here. 

BEST ACTION SHOTS: Action dogs are the ones that get us out of the house. These dogs give their owners a run for their money. 

1:  TIMMY, Waterbury (shown above)

Noreen Karcher managed to capture the joy dogs have in not only chasing a tennis ball, but catching it. Her shot of her son and daughter-in-law’s Timmy is a winner. “Timmy, a 3 1/2 year old rescue Golden Doodle, is happiest when he’s running as fast as he can or camping with his parents!”  she writes. “An incredibly sweet dog, the only thing he loves more than chewing on his bone or some scrap wood in the wood-shop is being petted and cuddled.”

Mazie, going for the ball.

2. MAZIE, Jericho

It’s not easy to throw the ball, grab your camera and get your dog to run toward you. But Svieta Beliveau-Gale did that. She got this incredible shot of Mazie, her 2-year-old Golden Doodle running right at the camera. 

Fryar, leaping tall logs in a single bound.

3. FRYAR, Charlotte

Fryar, a 13-year-old Standard Schnauzer from Charlotte is a frequent contender in this contest and this year, his owner Matt Byrne caught him leaping tall logs like a superdog. 

Bodi, sending it on the slopes.

4. BODI, Warren

Amanda Houser writes of her Viszla, Bodi: “He hikes in search of other friends/dogs (and bears). He sprints around the banked turns on the mountain bike trails and he spends hours jumping into the rivers.  When he hears, “Time to go back home!” he runs over to join another family and their dogs. If Bodi doesn’t get his adventure “fix” every day, he’ll create his own adventures at home. Toilet paper rivers, counter surfing, and the all important “steal someone’s favorite shoe and RUN” are some favorites! ” Bodi wins a Readers’  Choice award. 

Bogart, showing some puppy love.

5. BOGART, Quechee

Mary Giapponi’s Bogart is a 4-year-old Chocolate Lab who is quite social. 

BEST ADVENTURE SHOTS  dogs are the ones you never have to leave home when you head out on the trail, or the water or a camping trip.

Moose, scouting the trails at Blueberry Lake in Warren.

1:  MOOSE, Duxbury

Dogs don’t pose so Evan Lloyd Johnson was lucky that Moose, a.k.a. Maynard, walked into this scene just as the camera clicked.  Johnson, who once worked for this magazine writes: “We took this shot at Blueberry Lake. in Warren. Mountain bikers will recognize the exact spot. Moose and I have a routine on Wednesdays where we go and pick up the CSA in Warren and then continue on to Blueberry Lake for a rip around the trails.”

Maple, showing how apres biking is done at Killington.

2. MAPLE, Rutland

The clear Reader’s Choice Award goes to Cristin Craft’s Maple, age 4. “Whenever she sees us packing up she waits patiently for any sign that indicates she gets to join. Her favorite activities are swimming, paddleboarding and chasing us down the mountain bike or ski trails. This photo was taken at Killington Mountain Resort where we downhill mountain bike,” Craft writes.

Melly, on point in the Rockies.

3.  Melly, Vermont, Illinois

Cindy Olszewski’s Melly is a mixed breed 1-year-old rescue originally from Memphis, Tenn. Olszewski writes: “Melly is always up for new adventures. We never go camping without her. Her most recent adventure was a trip to Grand Mesa, Colo. where she did lots of high altitude hiking.”

Kaia and Gunnar, doing the Presidential Traverse.

4. KAIA & GUNNER, Jeffersonville

Abby Schaible’s two pups are Kaia and Gunner. Kaia is a 7-year-old Husky mix and Gunner, a 9-year-old Beagle, Boxer, Husky mix. “This photo is from when they completed the Presidential Traverse in a day,” Schaible writes. 

Bruno, ready to say “I do” — to any adventure.

5. BRUNO, Burlington 

Marion Cundari with Bruno, a Whoodle (Wheaten terrier and Standard Poodle) who is just 5 months but already loves hiking, swimming and even paddleboarding.

BEST FACE SHOTS Dogs have their own language and often just by looking in their eyes you can see what they are saying. These face shots communicate everything.

Jasper, just waiting for a chance to play.

1.  JASPER, Northfield

Amanda Brigham’s Jasper, a two-year old mixed breed “is living his best life when treeking in the woods. His favorite day of the week is when he rides the dog school bus to Green Mountain Dog Camp in Roxbury. He was born deaf but his deafness has never been a barrier for an enriched and adventurous life, and he has no trouble making friends. This guy likes a good nap too.”

Cooper, leading the way up the mountain in Stowe.

2. COOPER, Stowe

Jennifer Jones writes: “Having mobility issues and living with chronic pain is a daily struggle but having Cooper (my adventure  service dog) by my side allows me to get out and enjoy my life!  Cooper has a very serious face when he’s working but every once in a while, he’ll flash you that big old grin that makes your heart melt. Due to Cooper helping me with my balance issues, my balance and stability have improved.”  Cooper wins a Reader’s Choice Award.

Ziggy, caught between a rock and a hard place.

3. ZIGGY, Landgrove

Ron Jager and his family recently adopted Ziggy as a 6- -month old pup.  “He’s supposedly a Great Pyrenees mix but not sure,” Jager writes. “He’s definitely a mountain climber and the photo is from us camping in Acadia National Park  (Me.)  in June.  Ziggy is resting between two rocks at one of the vistas on the south summit trail of Cadillac Mountain on our way to Long Pond.”

Moose, chasing waterfalls.

4. MOOSE, Colchester

Danielle DelDotto’s Moose, a Husky/Rottweiler mix, is just 8 months old but already loves his waterfall hikes. 


5. LUNA, Essex Junction 

Angela Elcan’s Luna, a spunky 1.5-year-old mixed breed, has summited Camels Hump and Mt. Mansfield countless times and has done both in the same weekend (Mansfield for sunset followed by Camels for sunrise). Elcan writes: “She loves trucking up ski resorts (Smugglers Notch is her favorite) because she has more freedom to explore on the wide-open trails.”

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