Courtesy Canine Adventures
Active dogs with busy owners have one more reason to wag their tails, thanks to a new business that gets them out of the house and onto the trails.
It all started five years ago when Josh Rickey, an avid rock climber from Richmond, discovered a hunting dog chained to a tree and left for dead. Rickey took it home and named it Marshall.
Marshall didn't immediately adjust to domestication. "I realized I had a wild animal in my house," Rickey says, "and I needed to start training him."
He worked on teaching Marshall manners and obedience, and regularly took him out hiking
Rickey’s friends noticed how much he was enjoying this, and asked him to take their dogs out with him. Recognizing an unfilled niche in Richmond, Rickey founded Canine Adventures: a dog care service with a focus on outdoor excursions.
"It was a way of getting out of my office job," he says. "I come from an insurance background. I went from being everybody's enemy to everybody's friend."
In August, Rickey launched the Charlottesville branch, hiring two-year Richmond branch employee James Tilson to manage the new location.
“What really separates us are the adventures,” says Tilson. “We take two-hour hikes, directed towards more high-energy dogs who need more attention. Doggy day cares are great for some dogs, but not for others. They don’t get the attention they need.”
Canine Adventures is dedicated to providing the best-fit experience for each dog, Tilson explains.
“Every dog is different,” he says. “We like to learn about a dog and their personality before we take them out. If they get along with another dog, we’ll put them in a pack.
“The main objective is to make sure they have a good time,” he says.
Melissa Caldwell, a former client of Tilson, describes her experience with her dog, Pippi.
“He’d walk her three times a week, and once a week they’d go on a hike and would go swimming. Pippi just loved him. She was just out being a dog. She would cry when he left.
“It was really a relationship,” she says. “They love dogs. It’s not just a job to them.”
Tilson also emphasized the organization’s devotion to community service and support.
“We do a lot of work with local adoption programs,” he says. “I work with the ASPCA. People can go on our website and sponsor a dog to take out on a hike. It gives them a break from the shelter life. It also helps to spotlight the dog and give them the best chance of adoption.”