Before we had kids, my husband, Steve, and I swore that we’d never be the kind of parent that neglects their dog when a baby comes along. We’d heard stories of people giving away their pets because of the mind-melding rigors of raising a newborn, others going days at a time without petting the poor animals. No matter what parenthood brought, we vowed, that wouldn’t be us.
Our chocolate Lab, Gus, taught us to be adventure parents long before we became actual parents. He came with us rafting, skiing, camping, and biking. He belly-rolled into snowdrifts in Crested Butte when he was a puppy and chased us down the mountain during dawn patrol powder days at our local ski hill. By the time he was three, he’d floated the Rio Grande, Rio Chama and the Green River. Through trial and error, we learned what to do when he fell out of the boat and how to keep him from cutting his paws on our ski edges. We figured out that swimming is his sport but mountain biking most definitely isn’t (it's way too fast and he's way too big), and that if we hiked 10 miles climbing a 14,000-foot peak, he’d easily go twice as far. Sure, he got into some scrapes, but we had pet insurance and he was happy and—except for when he was glomming food straight from a toddler's hand—gentle, and we couldn’t imagine a better outdoor companion, ever.