Leader of the pack: Former attorney creates doggy hiking club

Russ Smith and his canine friends just want to haven fun!

Six mornings a week, the Tiverton, Rhode Island entrepreneur and several dogs of various shapes, sizes and ages, pile into a large van to enjoy a three-hour-long outdoor trek in the country to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and what the critters do best – play and have a lot of fun.

“I pick them up – door to door – in my van,” begins Smith, a former lawyer who developed the doggie day care business two years ago by word of mouth from friends who learned about the unique service and wanted their dogs to join in the fun and adventure.

“When the dogs pile into the van, they look for their buddy,” Smith said, adding that the during the past two years, some of the canines have bonded with each other and formed friendships, just like their human counterparts.

Smith says the idea for the hiking group was started by his dog, a golden retrieve named Sienna, a lovable canine that likes to hike along woodland trails and play with other pooches. “I call her our ‘den mother,’” Smith said. “She shares me with all the other dogs.”

Smith says the business started as a part-time venture on weekends and eventually blossomed into a full-time venture. He takes a maximum of nine dogs per day that allows him to provide optimum care and comfort.

“I try to send them home happy and tired,” Smith said, adding that the treks usually cover about six miles each morning and help the dogs to socialize and to become better canine citizens.

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