You Can Take A Shelter Dog Hiking Next Time You’re In Nashville

You're going to Nashville. Lucky you! You'll get to hear amazing music, eat scrumptious food -- and go out hiking with shelter dogs. This last part -- dare we say, the best part -- is possible through a local outfit called Tails of the Trail. The nonprofit got started a couple of years ago, when founder Kelly Stewart -- who already led a Nashville hiking club -- learned about shelters that encourage volunteers to borrow shelter dogs for day trips and hikes. 13321854_286683321679168_4427699177740342650_n Inspired, excited, he began reaching out to area shelters and rescue groups -- which started saying yes, right away. "I got motivated," Kelly tells BarkPost. "It was a huge success!" 10624583_232551527092348_5846494328257922317_n Now, Tails of the Trail partners with about a dozen shelters and rescue groups. Generally, six hikes are held every month, mostly within a short drive of participating shelters -- but sometimes, there are more far flung outings as well. 13600276_306496979697802_6840491580458535153_n In this short time, some 1,800 people have come out. And Tails of the Trail recently celebrated its 1,000th dog hiked. Her name is Sarah, and she's a cutie from Montgomery County Animal Care and Control in Clarksville, Tennessee. Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 4.27.55 PM These jaunts are great for the dogs -- getting them exercise, socialization, and a break from a stressful shelter environment. "The pups return to the shelter happy, exercised, and ready for adoption," says Kelly. 10400427_232551377092363_8968653851759781797_n On top of that, the shelter dogs get exposed to a whole new pool of potential adopters. Both because they are out and about wearing "adopt me" vests and bandanas instead of sitting in the shelter waiting to be noticed, and because photos of the hikes get posted to social media. 13769465_312405305773636_3146601711216660877_n Earlier this month, in fact, Tails of the Trail marked its 50th adoption or foster stemming from one of the group's hikes. Congratulations, Chelsea and Regina! Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.05.15 PM And of course, it's great for people, too -- who get some wonderful fun time romping around outside with a group of awesome dogs. 13709893_312411769106323_8090370607299366925_n   So how do you take part? Tails of the Trail announces upcoming hikes on its website -- along with RSVP-ing instructions and fees, when applicable. And in case you're not in Nashville: Kelly's looking to expand, and is encouraging folks in other cities who'd like to start up their own shelter dog hiking club -- either under the auspices of Tails of the Trail or not -- to reach out at One affiliate group's already gotten started in Charlotte, North Carolina. "We love hiking, we love dogs," says Kelly. "This was a natural progression!" 941076_10153531807262473_2621410942925807808_n Wait a month or so, and you may even get to meet Kelly's foster dog on a hike. Her name is Sookie, and she's a dog from a Tails of the Trail shelter partner, Cheatham County Animal Control. Sookie's being treated for heartworm now, which means she can't exercise much for another few weeks. "Keeping her calm, loving on her," says Kelly. "We have not taken her on any long distance hikes but really look forward to it."

All images via Tails of the Trail

Arin Greenwood

5 years ago

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