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Adventure Inspiration

Play More, Shower Less, and Other Things We Learned From Our Dogs In 2020

Turns out our canine sidekicks have been moonlighting as furry philosophers this year. Ruffwear Ambassadors and employees took a moment to reflect on what their dog has taught them in a year that's seen its share of obstacles and challenges.

If we take a moment to listen, dogs will offer up advice – sometimes sage and sometimes silly, but always worth hearing. Read on as the profound pups of the Ruffwear pack shed some light (and undoubtedly some fur) on navigating life these days. 

The Teacher: PD

The Student: Krissy Moehl, Ruffwear Ambassador

The Lesson: “It’s not always, it's just right now." It was an important one as it played out in 2020, but I would say in 2020 the distinct lesson I learned from PD was knowing boundaries. Watching her nip at strange dogs when they get way too up in her business, yet roll and play with pups that seem to show the same behavior but are her dear friends. She has taken it on as her job to protect the van from everyone, alerting me to anyone or thing approaching and she lets even me know when my cuddles or rules aren’t really working for her.

Krissy & PD trail run along forest road.

The Teacher: Juniper

The Student: Kerry, Ruffwear Pack Support Member

The Lesson: Juniper has taught me to be stoked about everything. Every day is a good day, and the world is our oyster!

The Teachers: Noodle & Shamus

The Student: Bree, Ruffwear Ambassador

The Lesson: "When things feel uncertain and fear can settle in rather quick, there is comfort in the routine of our dogs." I can crave change and excitement, but I never noticed the beauty in the simple life we have with our dogs at home. They are steadfast and strong, for us. 

noodle and shamus out for a winter walk

The Teacher: Juniper

The Student: Kelly, Ruffwear's Sustainability Coordinator

The Lesson: Juniper taught me that the intersection between her needs and my own is so beautiful. In 2020, she (and WFH life) taught me to loosen the reins a little on tight schedules. And that if 20 extra minutes of freedom bounding through the brush means I forego a shower that day, so be it. When I look back on a year of forced simplicity, it won't be the hot showers I remember anyway. It'll be her smile as a little pup in a BIG, BIG world.

 Kelly and Juniper Skiing together

The Teacher: Maggie

The Student: Smiley, Ruffwear's Operations Coordinator

The Lesson: Maggie entered my life on August 6th. I was really struggling with my transition from military life to civilian life and Maggie was exactly what I needed. The hardest challenge a service member faces upon exiting the service is no longer having the sense of duty and obligation. No longer feeling needed... Maggie was only seven weeks old. She wouldn't survive in this world without a human companion to support her. Having Maggie enter my life gave me purpose again. I not only had a companion, but a living, breathing creature that needed me just as much as I needed her.

Maggie never leaves my side. She is my constant reminder that I have purpose. She reminds me that life is precious and that we must continue nurturing our needs and the needs of those around us. She reminds me that caring for ourselves and others is the greatest sense of worth a person can hold on to. 

 Smiley and Maggie in the early days together

The Teachers: Colt & Star

The Student: Laura, Ruffwear Ambassador

The Lesson: In 2020, my dogs taught me that it doesn't really matter whether we're 5 minutes or 500 miles from home.  If we are outside together, then we are succeeding.

colt and star on the trail

The Teacher: Bernie

The Student: Liz, Ruffwear Product Designer

The Lesson: "There is no 'right time' to get the zoomies, but when they arise chase them to your heart's content – and surround yourself with people who will chase them with you. Also, if you see a space on the couch, it's there for you."

The Teachers: Riley, Bodie, and Willow

The Student: Maria, Ruffwear Ambassador

The Lessons: "It's just about being together." Riley isn't able to hike much anymore, and due to the pandemic our travel plans were almost all cancelled. But at 13 Riley is living his best life these days. Our adventures are local and small, but we're always together now that I work from home. It's been a blessing to have all this extra time with him!

"Every dog is different." The challenge continues! Bodie is the smartest, most challenging dog I have ever dealt with. He's a constant reminder of how all dogs are wired differently, and he pushes me every day to find better training solutions. 

"Just be happy!" Willow is the happiest puppy ever. She lights up my whole day with her exuberant butt wiggle. It doesn't matter what we're doing, she's just thrilled with everything. She has no clue there's a pandemic, or how difficult the year has been - she just keeps smiling and wiggling. She's a constant reminder not to let life get you down.

Puppy Willow in float coat sits on paddle board looking at ducks.


The Teacher: Marvin

The Student: Mary, Ruffwear's Retail Brand Experience Designer

The Lesson: "You are never too busy to step away from the screen and to go outside and play for a few minutes." The screen and the work will still be there when you get back. Also, you miss 100% of the belly rubs you don't go for. 

The Teacher: Pebble

The Student: Graham, Ruffwear Ambassador

The Lesson: "The simple joy of a nap or rolling in fresh snow is all that is needed to put a smile on your face." As her humans, our job was to find our own simple joys that, for a moment, let us put aside the stressors of this strange fretful year and smile alongside our delightful little fluffy family member."

graham and pebble stop for a photo opportunity

The Teacher: Dixie

The Student: Kate, Ruffwear Pack Support Rep

The Lesson: Dixie has taught me the meaning of progress over perfection. The idiom "two steps forward, one step back" most accurately describes our journey together through 2020 when it comes to obedience, behavior, and confidence. She has taught me that as long as we get out there and try, we aren't failing. We may not be perfect -- we both make mistakes -- but together we'll keep moving forward. And it's in that movement -- that forward momentum -- where victory is actually found.  

The Teacher: Atka

The Student: Caroline, Email Campaign Coordinator

The Lesson: "Learning is a lifelong process." Humans and dogs both make mistakes, but these mistakes teach us how to behave the next time we encounter that situation. Whether running, skiing, or paddling, Atka’s and my intention may be to simply get some fresh air, but we usually walk away with a new perspective on an element of life we had never considered.

Caroline and Atka on a hilltop together

The Teacher: Luna

The Student: Kellie, Ruffwear Pack Support Member

The Lesson: Luna taught me patience and acceptance throughout this year - with myself, with our relationship, and with the world. Having the patience and ability to accept all of those as they are in any given moment has shown me a richer, fuller, gratitude-filled way of living. She also continues to remind me that anytime is a good time to snuggle or go outside and play.

The Teacher: Ranger

The Students: Nate & Dani, Ruffwear Ambassadors

The Lesson: This year, Ranger taught us how much love we have in our hearts. He taught us to treat each day full of life and curiosity, how to be a little skeptical, but also trusting. And of course, ball is life.  

dani and ranger sit by a lake

The Teachers: Jackson & Khumbu

The Students: Heather, Ruffwear's Director of Organizational Development

The Lesson: Jackson has shown me that starting my morning by stretching and then couch time with him is more fulfilling than running around trying to do too much. This year, I have actually started waking up earlier so I can have this time for the two of us.

Khumbu has taught me that you need time to "Chew it out". Her new weekend pleasure is gnawing on a bone. She always seems more calm after. So, sometimes, I guess you need to chew it out.

The Teacher: Lennon

The Student: Cristina, Ruffwear Copywriter

The Lesson: "Anything can be a treat – it just depends on how you look at it." Lennon taught me there's delight to be found in even the littlest of things that I've often written off as mundane. We must've walked around our neighborhood hundreds of times this past year in the wake of staying close to home. It's a nice route, but not exactly the most exciting of adventures. Yet, every time we go out, you'd think Lennon was seeing and smelling everything for the first time. So much joy!

Also, "There's no such thing as too many treats." Both the metaphorical kind and the literal kind.

cristina and lennon walk through a barn.

The Teacher: George

The Student: Zak, Ruffwear's Rocky Mountain Territory Manager

The Lesson: I think George taught me that it’s ok to be scared of the unknown. It’s part of life to struggle with health and though our lifespan is longer than our pups, we all face mortality. Make the most of each day while it’s here: do the thing you want to do, take the path you’ve always wondered about, play with the snow covered ball even though your tongue gets cold, push limits of commitment to those around you not because you know what to expect, but because you might just feel emotions when you realize you’ve exceeded your norm.

Your dog jumps in the car or truck without care of where it’s going, it just wants to be there. I want to be more like George. 

The Teacher: Lionel

The Student: Ashley, Ruffwear Pack Support Rep

The Lesson: Lionel has taught me how to sit still and be content with being still, and then taught me when and how to move out of my comfort zone to explore new places and opportunities.

What did your dog teach you this year? Let us know in the comments or on social by tagging @ruffwear!