The Mountain Humane animal shelter’s “Hikin’ Buddies” program aims to give shelter dogs a new lease on life this summer.
The Hikin’ Buddies program—in which adoptable shelter dogs can be walked, petted and socialized with—will be conducted every Wednesday of the month starting June 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Adams Gulch Trailhead near Ketchum.
The program has been a staple of the shelter for over 20 years now, which gives shelter dogs—some of which have never been on a hike or have lived most of their lives in shelter conditions—a chance to have a break from shelter life and learn how to cooperate with families. This can develop behavior patterns that help the dogs fit in with a new, adopted family, according to Mountain Humane Volunteer Coordinator Kelsey Strahle.
“Hikin’ Buddies is a wonderful program for our shelter dogs and our community. They might have spent their entire lives in a kennel or a back yard with no stimulation,” she said. “It gets them used to how it might be when they get their forever family. Not only does it give the dogs a break from shelter life, it allows them to get a real-life experience of hiking with a family, and we often gain valuable information from that, which in turns allows us to better match them with the perfect forever family.”
Strahle said the hiking program is not only an enrichment for the dogs, but also for those who participate.
“The fun part of Hikin’ Buddies is people who come and walk our dogs,” she said. “We have met families from probably every state who come to this area for a visit. Many times, the visitors from out of town are not looking for a dog to adopt—they just miss their dogs at home who didn’t get to come on vacation.
“Many families come back every summer and we watched their kids grow up. Sometimes, we meet the kids when they are very young and, in some cases, we now are meeting their children. It’s truly amazing.”
For those looking to meet a new furry friend, Mountain Humane recommends going to Adams Gulch early to avoid a wait—the shelter can only send so many dogs and each dog can only do so many hikes.
For participants who happen to fall in love with one of the dogs, Mountain Humane encourages a call to the shelter’s adoption team to learn more about that dog and schedule a meet-and-greet at the shelter near Hailey.
The Hikin’ Buddies program will feature numerous dogs from the shelter. Though there are some that won’t be able to make the trip, there are other opportunities and events to meet all of the shelter dogs, Strahle said.
Other events include “Paws Around Town,” in which an experienced dog-handler volunteer takes some of the available dogs to walk around Ketchum in an “Adopt Me” vest, she said.
Those interested in adoption can visit the shelter’s website at www.mountainhumane.org to see all the available animals. People can also call Mountain Humane’s adoption team at 208-788-4351 for more information.
The shelter can also be visited in person during public open hours Tuesday-Saturday, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. ￼
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