It’s that time of year again. Twinkling lights, snow-dusted doorsteps, the smell of hot cider wafting from the kitchen stove.
Your nose stings from leftover frost as you shrug off layers of scarves and mittens. That familiar feeling of tired muscles pulses through you – a feeling earned from gliding through cross country tracks.
As you help your pup out of her snow coat and boots, she nuzzles up to you – resting by the crackling fire. These moments are the true gifts of the season.
This year, stretch yourself to think outside of traditional gift giving – swapping items for experiences with your canine sidekick.
Go, Dog. Go!
Our Ruffwear pack huddled together to brainstorm our favorite pup-approved holiday outings. Below, we highlight how to go make those memories and discover the lasting gifts these experiences bring.
LOOKING FOR SOME LAUGHTER?
GO FOR A RUN
Here’s what Cristina and Lennon recommend to fill your days with laughter.
The GO: Trail running is how Lennon and I reconnect and get back in our groove. It's that go, go, go time of year, but there's no amount of busy-ness or stress that sharing a stretch of singletrack together can't fix.
The GIFT: Laughter! Lennon never fails to make me laugh when we're out for our run. Sometimes it's watching her bounce like a rabbit over brush, or the side-tongue when she comes running back to me to check in. Almost always, though, it's her zoomies that really get me. Add in the runner's high for both of us, and we usually reach the end of the trail thoroughly refreshed, connected, and centered.
LOOKING FOR SOME PEACE?
GO HIKE AND CAMP
Elena shares how backpacking with her dogs brings her a deep sense of peace.
The GO: Backpacking with my dogs is one of our most favorite activities to do together – quiet time on the trails, soaking up sunshine, swims in alpine lakes and best of all, cuddles in the tent.
The GIFT: Backpacking helps us get away from it all – the hectic pace and distractions of everyday life. It gives us the gift of peace. When cuddling in a warm tent or jumping into a brisk lake with my dogs, I feel a new level of closeness to them – and to nature.
LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE?
Kellie and Luna inspire us with their favorite way to adventure together in the snow.
The GO: Luna and I love to ski together! From the backcountry to groomed trails to urban commuting when it really snows in town, she loves to run at my side while I slide on snow. One of her favorite activities while skiing is playing fetch with snowballs. She has not quite figured out how to bring them back yet, but she continues to try and figure it out.
The GIFT: The gift of having this experience with Lu is that she reminds me that everything can be an adventure or an opportunity to play. Skiing with her for me is full of smiles, laughter, and play. She encourages me to tap into childlike wonder and joy because snow really is quite magical!
LOOKING FOR BALANCE?
GO SPLASH AROUND
Mary and Marv find that working in unison to stay balanced on their stand up paddle board gives them a stronger connection.
The GO: Marv and I love to go paddleboarding in the Cascade Lakes during the summertime into early fall. He gets VERY excited when he sees the SUP and his Float Coat get packed into the car.
When we are on the board, Marv gives me a look that let’s me know when he is ready to jump off the board and go for a swim, usually to another friend/dog board to say hi. He swims back to me and I hoist him back on the SUP from his Float Coat handle.
The GIFT: Spending time in and on the water with Marv makes me feel connected to him and the water. We have to have partnership and balance in order to make the board balance. Our favorite parts of SUPing together are seeing sights from a different perspective and almost always going with friends!
GO EXPLORE THE CITY
Elena explains how exploring the city with her dogs helps her see the sights in a whole new way.
The GO: Even on days when we might not have time to hop on a trail, we love exploring our neighborhood and town. Really, anytime outside with my dogs is all I ever need.
The GIFT: My dogs help me notice things we might otherwise miss. Millie might sniff a flower I’ve never noticed and draw my attention to its beauty. Dogs give us the gift of presence, whether it be on a city street or a trail.
LOOKING FOR A STRONGER CONNECTION?
Engaging in play helps Kacie feel closer to her pups, Willow and Eddie – and she gets in some good laughs, too!
The GO: Having two dogs that are very toy driven, playing is an activity that is rewarding for all involved. It allows me to engage and interact with my dogs while also giving them mental and physical stimulation. Eddie, our border collie, loves to play fetch while our new puppy, Willow, loves to play tug-of-war. You can find a handful of toys on us just about anywhere we go!
The GIFT: Getting to be the center of my dogs’ attention! When I have a toy in hand, my dogs’ focus is completely on me for that engagement. It allows us to connect, bond, and become closer through playing and training. An added bonus is that they get exercise and I get some good laughs in, too!
Susan and Artie share how relaxing together brings them joy and comfort.
The GO: Having just celebrated Artie's 12th birthday, the long days of miles on the trail together are behind us. His comfy Urban Sprawl™ bed is perfect for rest and recovery and is our go-to gear these days.
The GIFT: My relationship with Artie brings me joy and comfort every day. As his 12th birthday is upon us, I remember that each day together is a gift in itself.
Go Get Out There!
None are better experts of living in the moment than our tail-wagging loved ones. Follow your dog’s example and choose moments of play and exploration this season.
Gather your pup and head outside – where crisp air and priceless memories await. For more inspiration, check out last year’s go guide.