Successful shelter dog program goes international
Photos courtesy of Rachel Rodgers, @trailsandbears.

The popular shelter dog program, Doggy Day Out, has taken the U.S. by storm by giving homeless shelter dogs a chance to explore the world – and now Canadian canines can benefit, too!

If you drive up north in the beautiful mountainous landscape of Alberta, you’ll find a hidden gem: Abraham Lake. In winter, it’s one of the most photographed pieces of ice in the world as tiny frozen bubbles turn the stunning blue ice into a work of art. For Archer, a stocky short haired dog who spent many months waiting for a home at a local rescue, it was a place of wonder and delight. As photographer Rachel Rodgers captured his reaction, he leapt, frolicked and explored – all thanks to international shelter program, Doggy Day Out.

Koda enjoys her Doggy Day Out trip.

The next day, as Archer slept off his adventure, Rodgers and staff at Paws and Claws Rescue in Red Deer, Alberta harnessed up Koda (pictured at right), a beautiful but anxious husky mix, for Rodgers. For a glorious few hours, Koda forgot her nerves and got to show her true personality as the two drove hours into the mountains together. She tunneled in the snow and greeted birds while Rodgers snapped pictures. Within a day or two of her adventure, she would find herself a new home.

Not only are the gorgeous photos by Rodgers noteworthy, Koda and Archer’s adventures mark an important milestone: Paws & Claws Rescue is the first known Doggy Day Out Program in Canada. This one-of-a-kind shelter dog program allows the public to take dogs on field trips to help relieve their stress and get a better idea of their true personalities. While the program has exploded in popularity across the U.S. with over 80 programs in 34 states listed on the Mutual Rescue Directory, it’s now gone international as well. Mutual Rescue has a toolkit to help shelters start these types of programs and in the past year they’ve seen downloads from organizations in Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, England and Bolivia.

While Koda and Archer might be the first international Doggy Day Out dogs, they won’t be the last.

In their program announcement, Paws and Claws shared: “We are SO SO excited for this one! We’ve paired up with Mutual Rescue to implement their ‘Doggy Day Out’ shelter dog program…designed for volunteers who can’t commit to a set amount of hours per week to dedicate to the shelter. Research shows that dogs are less stressed, problem behaviors are reduced, AND dogs get adopted quicker through program participation.”

Doggy Day Out only requires minimal training commitments for participants,” says Mutual Rescue founder Carol Novello. “It encourages members of the public who normally wouldn’t have time to volunteer to engage with their local shelter and advocate for the dogs. It’s also a great excuse to get out and get some exercise or explore with a canine sidekick.”

You can read more about the benefits of Doggy Day Out for the dogs and the participants in chapter five of ‘Mutual Rescue: How Adopting a Homeless Animal Can Save You, Too’.

Know a local shelter that may want to join in the fun? Or perhaps you and your friends want to volunteer to take some dogs on a fun outing. Find a program near you at

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