Hiking with your four-legged friends this fall can help homeless animals—one step at a time.

The Denver Dumb Friends League (DDFL) is hosting a virtual fitness challenge in September to benefit homeless pets and horses in its care. The first-ever "Peaks for Pets!" event challenges participants to "change their altitude" by getting outdoors to get quality exercise, enjoy the beauty of Colorado outdoors, and help homeless pets in the process.

Participants will begin the challenge at sea level and track and record their elevation gain throughout the month to earn incentives, with milestones at the half-mile mark (2,640 feet) and one-mile mark (5,280 feet). There will also be weekend challenges throughout the event with awards for highest altitude reached, longest distance hiked, and most elevation gained.

Registration is $30 and includes an event t-shirt. Earned incentives, including a collar light, a carabiner bottle opener, a dog toy, and a buff, will be available at pick-up parties at local breweries in early October to those who earn them.

The event replaces the long-running Wag 'n Trail event benefiting the Buddy Center in Castle Rock. That event, which included a 1.6-mile hike at Glendale Farm Open Space in Douglas County, was retired in 2018 after 14 years.

Virtual events have become critical this year for organizations like DDFL that historically have relied on in-person events to raise funds for their operations. DDFL's popular Furry Scurry event, held annually in early May, had to be converted to a virtual event this year due to COVID-19.

If you choose to take the Pets for Peaks challenge with your canine companion, DDFL offers the following advice for hiking with dogs:

  • Make sure the the park or trail is dog friendly. Not every location allows dogs, and some locations only allow dogs on certain trails.
  • Pick a trail that fits your fitness level and the ability of your pup. Not all dogs are cut out for long hikes or difficult terrain. Take plenty of breaks if necessary.
  • Watch the paws. Dogs have pretty tough feet but they are susceptible to damage from rough or hot surfaces.
  • Use the right leash to keep your pup safe. Some trails do not allow retractable leashes.
  • Bring plenty of food and water for yourself and your dog. A collapsable bowl makes hydration breaks easy.
  • Be prepared with essentials for yourself and your pup, including a first-aid kit for both of you, a map, sunscreen and a GPS or compass.
  • Make sure your pup is current on vaccinations and medications, and wears identification tags with current information in case you get seperated.
  • Have fun!

Will you and your furry pet be participating in the Peaks for Pets! event with the Denver Dumb Friends League? Let us know in the comments below.