On March 1st of 2012, we embarked on a journey across America.
We walked with our dogs, Max and Grace, from Lewes, Delaware to San Francisco, California to promote pet therapy, animal rescue, and the positive impact that a fulfilling relationship with animals can have on our health and quality of life. In total we walked 3,088 miles across 12 states. Along the way, we made animal assisted therapy visits at over 45 facilities: Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other places where a dog’s love and positivity were needed. This gave Max and Grace, both adopted from a shelter as adults, a chance to show what adopted dogs are capable of.
In this fast-paced modern world, our dogs are our connection to the natural rhythms of life. When we travel with our dogs they bring us a deeper connection to the places we visit and the people we meet. They see, smell, and hear details of our world that we otherwise would look right past. Our dogs constantly remind us to appreciate quiet beauty of taking things slowly, and to enjoy the world that is right in front of us.
Whether we are at home or traveling, we are always amazed at how our dogs connect us to people. When people see dogs walking down the sidewalk, their faces light up. When we have the dogs with us, we always seem to find ourselves in a conversation with someone that would otherwise have walked right past us. In these connections, we see the real value of our dogs – the connections they help us forge with the people around us. And they have an uncanny way of picking out the people who seem to need a dog’s attention the most.
This is why we decided to get involved with animal assisted therapy through Pawsibilities Unleashed. Pawsibilities Unleashed is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Frankfort, Kentucky that provides training, certification, and support for companion pets, therapy dogs, and service dogs. They believe that a dog can drastically improve a person’s quality of life and they are committed to making the health and happiness benefits of a dog accessible to everyone.
When we first began talking about walking across America with our dogs, we quickly realized that the project brought together all the things that are most important in our lives. Over and over again, we come back to love, service, animals, and adventure. And so, in 2012, we walked across America for pet therapy and animal rescue.
Kait, John, Grace, and Max walked the first 1,100 miles alone, with nothing but our backpacks and a pushcart. But our team was destined to grow. When we reached the Mississippi River and we hit the summer heat, our good friend Jon Slater and his dog, Old Brown Dog, joined us with a support car.
Then came Jenny #9, a stray that joined us in Iowa. She came out of a cornfield underweight and clearly in need of care, so we got her to the nearest veterinarian. Long story short, we ended up adopting Jenny. After finishing the walk to the Pacific with us, she came home for good. (Read about the day we first met Jenny)
On March 17, 2012, after 3088 miles of walking and pet therapy visits at over 45 facilities, we walked into the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach, California and brought this incredible chapter of our lives to a close.
We have a great deal to be thankful for. We came to the Walk on good faith that people would support and contribute to our journey with their kindness – and they didn’t let us down. Kind souls all across the country welcomed us, opened their homes and communities, looked after us, called friends and relatives, fed us, helped us, and cheered us on. We met people who dedicate their lives to enriching their communities, to looking out for each other, to helping animals in need. The world is full of conscious, considerate, community-minded people, all working for a brighter future.
We have said it before, and we mean it: We could not have done this alone. We owe a great deal of thanks to many, many people. We are thankful for each and every person that smiled or waved, slowed down or drove around us on the road, took us in, brought us lunch, or told their friends about our story. We are all in this together, and we are eternally grateful for your support.
Click here to jump to the first day of the walk.
(The first few posts from the road were pretty rough, but we promise they get better.)
Dog Walk Across America was a sponsored project of MarinLink 501(c)(3).