Adventure Dog Winners 2020

What does it take to win our annual Vermont Sports Adventure Dog Contest? To start with, you need a best buddy who is willing to follow you anywhere. This year we heard stories of dogs that went on backcountry snowboarding trips (see Thor, below), camping in Wyoming’s Tetons, paddling in Maine and, of course, hiking and skiing all over the Gree

Win prizes from Pet Food Warehouse!

n Mountains. The stories are part of what we look at (and love reading, so keep them coming) but it’s also the quality of the photos, the setting and how the images and the stories that go with them capture that sense of adventure that dogs and humans seem to share. Over the years, we’ve had various levels of prizes and participation. This year we received more than 220 entries–photos and stories about your dogs—and more than 2,130 votes for Reader’s Choice on the 20 semi-finalists when we posted them on social media. Since our surveys indicate that 70 percent of our readers own dogs, we are not surprised.

For the overall winners in each category, as picked by our staff, as well as the overall Readers’ Choice winner,   our long-time partner Pet Food Warehouse of Burlington offered $75 gift certificates for each of the category winners, as well as our overall Reader’s Choice winner. 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. Prizes aside, anyone who gets to spend time with the dogs that were entered in this contest is a winner.


Adventure dogs are the ones you never have to leave home when you head out on the trail, on the water or the snow.

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1: THOR, Jay, VT [Category Winner]

Katlin Parenteau’s blue nose pitbull Thor is, she writes, “pretty extreme.” He certainly looks so as he gets ready to dive in near his home in Jay. Katlin writes; “When I took Thor on vacation to Colorado, we hiked to the top of Loveland Pass and I found a great untouched line to drop in on. He decided to go over the cornice and dropped an even more complex line than I did. Often times we hike up Jay Peak preseason and when I take too long to strap in he cries and yells for me to go faster because he’s ready to go!”

2.AUGIE, Manasquan, NJ [Reader’s Choice Category Winner)

Augie, Kate Badecker’s 11-year-old Viszla, might be from New Jersey but he’s perfectly at home in the Green Mountains where he often visits. “Here is Augie about to summit Mt. Worcester in Vermont, waiting patiently for his humans to catch up to him,” writes his owner, Kate. “Despite his sugar face, he is an energetic canine who loves nothing more than being let off leash in the woods (second to cuddling up to his humans, of course)!” she adds.

3. JASPER, Burlington, VT

Jasper has come a long way since he was born in Hungary five years ago. Sarah Eaton, his owner, has taken him camping on Valcour Island, canoeing on Green River Reservoir, and backpacking along the Long Trail, and in the White Mountains and in the Catskills. In this photo her Viszla is hunkered down at a campsite in Wyoming’s Tetons. Sarah, who is currently studying in Colorado to be a vet, writes: “I always bring a blanket for him and if we’re car camping, his entire dog bed. He loves being outside but he has to be comfortable. When we sleep in the tent at night he sleeps in my sleeping quilt with me. I ordered it specifically to share with him: it’s extra wide and extra warm just to accommodate him. ”

4. SIDNEY, South Burlington, VT

Though she looks like she’s queen of the dunes here at Alburg State Park, Sidney is equally happy in the mountains. Laura and Kent Knapp took her on her first hike up Mt. Washington at age 2, after getting her from North County Animal League. “She was only 11 lbs and she was amazing. She can scale rocks like a mountain goat,” Laura writes of her 13-year old mixed breed. Since then, Sidney has hiked most of the Long Trail, many of the trails in Vermont’s state parks and even summited Camel’s Hump in the winter. Says Laura: “I call her my trail angel: keeping pace with my husband but constantly coming to check on me, as I often lag behind observing nature and taking photos of Vermont’s beautiful landscapes.

5. Pepper, Kirby, VT

Delaney Noyes takes Pepper, a wire-haired pointing griffin, hiking just about everywhere. And living in Kirby, there are plenty of good options, including this trail high above Lake Willoughby. “Pepper is one-and-a-half years old and she explores hiking, mountain biking, and trail running all over Vermont,” Noyes writes. “Pepper rocks Rex Specs dog goggles on all of her adventures to protect her eyes.”


This category is a tribute to how much we love our dogs and the photos capture how much they love us, as well. It’s hard not to see that shine through in these winning shots.

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1. BERNIE, Bolton, VT [Overall Reader’s Choice Winner and Category Winner]

It’s hard not to look at Alan McManus’ photo of his wife Hollie Dolan and their new goldendoodle puppy and say “Awww….” This photo—our favorite —also melted our hearts and got nearly 300 votes on Facebook making it a clear choice for overall winner. Alan and Hollie got Bernie, now 6 months old,  to help them through quarantine. The shot was taking during a kayaking trip to Lake Willoughby. “

2. KAIA & GUNNER, Jeffersonville, VT

If Kaia, a yellow husky mix, and Gunner, a hound mix, could talk, it looks like they would be saying “When we gonna ride? When we gonna ride?” Their enthusiasm is hard to hide. Owner Abbi Schaible writes: “These dogs are with us for every adventure big or small. However, my favorite trip with these two so far was our trip to Katahdin Woods and Waters. During that trip we lived out of the back of their dad’s Tacoma and biked, paddled, and explored the park all with those two being perfectly behaved by our side. It can be stressful enough planning backcountry outingsand most people don’t even fathom bringing the dogs, but not in this house! Whether it’s backcountry or a walk in town, these two will be there.”

3. LOKI, Thetford, VT

“Winter is his favorite season,” Hannah Smith says about Loki, her Newfie, German shepherd, Maremma sheepdog mix. “We weren’t sure how Loki would like kayaking. He’s huge and he loves to run and swim so getting him to balance in a kayak was questionable. We kayak all over Vermont with him. Occasionally he leans to look at a bird or a frog and I think we’re going in, but that’s what the life jackets are for! Loki also enjoys running, hiking, and XC skiing. He gets quite concerned if we go off trail and often alerts us that ‘the trail is this way. He is the best trail buddy!

4. TEFLON, Shelburne, VT

Owner Ann Brigham writes: “Teflon, a cockapoo, is three going on two.He likes nothing better than cruising Lake Champlain and swimming at Juniper or Sloop Island with the ducks. He’s the captain of the ship…spirit and locks flowing freely in the wind!”

5. YOSHI, Waterbury Center, VT

Yoshi, a four-year-old golden retriever ” is eager to climb Mt. Hunger (the photo with our son Jesse) or Nordic ski in the woods for hours on end sticking her snout in the snow hunting for wild Arctic snow bunnies,” writes owner Duncan McDougall. He adds:”None found….YET!”


Action dogs are the ones that get us out of the house. These dogs are giving their owners a run for their money.

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1:  DOLOMITE,  Huntington, VT  {Category Winner}

Josh Burns describes Dolomite as “a year-ish old Australian cattle cog mix who leaves no stoke left unturned.” You can see them both getting stoked for winter here at Mad River Glen. “The highlight of Dolomite’s year was powhounding his way through February’s Nor’easter down the Teardrop Trail in Underhill State Park. When the snow subsides, Dolo can be frequently found trail running miles of trail from Appalachian Gap up to Smugglers Notch with a treat-filled smile. “

2. FRYAR, Charlotte, VT {Reader’s Choice Winner}

A 12-year-old schnauzer, Fryar hasn’t lost his spring, judging from this shot, which earned Reader’s Choice for the category. “Fryar has been adventuring around the state for years (having hiked from the Northeast Kingdom to his home turf of Mount Philo) and is known for his great leaping ability, facial expressions and friendly demeanor,” writes his owner Matt Byrne who took this shot in Monkton. He  adds “Vermont continues to keep Fryar  young.”

3. TIMBER, Waterbury Center, VT

If anyone loves slaying fresh powder  in the backcountry more than Bob Olsen, it’s his golden retriever, Timber, age two-and-half. “Timber is an all around adventure dog. He’s taken up all sports with enthusiasm and joy. Hiking, biking, canoeing, swimming he’s done it all. But skiing is his real passion and a powder day brings on his smile. With limitless energy this dog can out ski his humans…easily!” Olsen writes.  And he seems to get first tracks, too.

4. MADDIE, Norwich, VT

Golden retrievers seem to love being caught mid-action and Maddie is no exception. “Our golden girl loves her river dance,” writes Robyn Adler of her two-year-old pup, caught here making a splash.

5. MAD RIVER JACK, Waitsfield, VT

Chris Woods’ Brittany spaniel Mad River Jack seems to think he can swim in snow. Jack earned his name by chasing pow all winter on the slopes as his dad skinned or skied them, wearing a red coat so he wouldn’t get lost in the depths.


Everyone thinks their dog is the best looking—of course they do. But, as is true with people, not every dog can look great after a hike or swim.

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1. SHELLY, Montgomery Center, VT

If anyone knows how to savor the late-day rays after an adventure on the water, it’s Shelly, Joan Hildreth’s 10-year-old golden retriever.  ” She’s such a joy to spend time with—hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing, snowshoeing, swimming, camping, or just hanging out,” Joan writes.  “She loves being with her humans and the feeling is mutual. Outdoor adventures are always fun with Shelly.” That shows, here.

2. BUCK, Bennington, VT

You know that feeling when you come home muddy, exhausted but also feeling kinda great after a big adventure? Well, Trey Dobson’s yellow lab Buck knows that well. Buck, 5,  spends his days with Trey and Max, 2, another yellow lab, adventuring around southwestern Vermont. And if they always come home muddy? That’s just the sign of a good day.

3. RUGGER, Dummerston, VT

An Australian shepherd mix, Stephanie Bond’s Rugger is right at home in the pool, looking like he’s ready to do some more laps—dog paddling, of course.

4.  MAPLE, Colchester, VT

Small but mighty, Maple is nearly always up for a hike with owner Skye Elkins who  adopted the King Charles Cavalier spaniel mix two years ago after she was found wandering in South Burlington. The two had just done the Libby’s Loop/Preston Pond trails near Bolton when Elkins snapped Maple’s “glamour shot.”

5. ASTRID, Weston, VT

If there’s anyone who loves fall in Vermont and playing in the leaves  it’s Astrid, Pamela Dickman’s one-year-old  German shepherd—it’s written all over her face, here.


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