Glacier hiking on Matanuska Glacier in Alaska. *All photos courtesy of Nicole Metzger unless otherwise noted.
Buddy, a four-year-old pit bull, has come a long way—literally and figuratively—from his former life. At just 10 weeks old, Buddy was rescued in Alabama during what would prove to be the second-largest dogfighting case in U.S. history. He had been destined to spend his life on a chain, being groomed to fight.
Buddy on the day he was rescued. *Photo courtesy of the ASPCA.
Today, Buddy lives in Alaska, whose state motto is “North to the Future”—representing a land of promise. A frequent traveler, Buddy has traveled by car through 22 states and across Canada, stopping at state signs along the way for photo ops, peering out the window at bison, bears and moose.
Left: Contemplating the beautiful views in the Chugach National Forest. Right: Cinnamon and Buddy take a breather on the Gull Rock Trail at Turnagain Arm.
“When we moved from Charleston, South Carolina, to Anchorage, we didn’t want to put Buddy or our other dog on a plane,” says Nicole M., who adopted Buddy with her husband Andrew nearly seven months after his rescue in Alabama. “Buddy had never seen snow, so somewhere between Montana and Idaho we ran into some and pulled over.”
Left: On the road again. Right: Cinnamon and Buddy exploring the snow.
Cinnamon, the couple’s nine-year-old Husky-mix, relished the opportunity to play in the white powder, but Buddy approached it with caution.
“Buddy took his cues from Cinnamon, his big sister,” recalls Nicole. “Like, ‘If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me.’” Buddy now always sticks his face in the first snow of the season, but prefers summer and water to winter and snow.
Buddy and Cinnamon take to the water in Byers Lake, Alaska.
“He loves swimming more than anything,” adds Nicole, whose brother and sister-in-law taught Buddy how to swim in their backyard pool in Georgia.
Chasing waves at Isle of Palms, S.C.
On a recent weekend trip to Ninilchik, a town on the Alaskan coast, Buddy tested the waters of the Kenai Peninsula, and on hikes to places like Byers Lake or Beluga Point, he and Cinnamon take to the water.
Enjoying the sights and smells of Kenai Lake and stopping to smell the daisies on the Kenai Peninsula.
Winter in Alaska lends itself to activities like viewing the Aurora Borealis and glacier hiking in sub-zero temperatures—as long as Buddy is wearing a coat and booties, of course.
Buddy, Cinnamon and Andrew take in the Northern Lights.
“He’s a good hiker and can go as far as 12 miles round-trip,” Nicole says. “Andrew and I travel a lot, and when Buddy joined us, he hit the ground running.”
Left: The whole family glacier hiking on Matanuska Glacier. Right: Looking at the Wrangell Mountains from the AlCan Highway.
Nicole and Andrew first met Buddy following the death of their dog Sophie. “Cinnamon didn’t like being alone and was very depressed,” Nicole explains. The couple visited the Charleston Animal Society, an ASPCA placement partner that took in 12 dogs from Buddy’s case. By then, Buddy had spent a total of 199 days in temporary shelters and foster homes. Upon first meeting Andrew and Nicole, Buddy crawled into Andrew’s lap, onto his chest and fell asleep. They introduced Buddy to Cinnamon at a local park, and the dogs immediately hit it off.
After their move to Alaska in 2015, the couple enrolled Buddy in obedience school, where he earned a certificate of achievement for “outstanding improvement of doggie manners.”
Left: Buddy after completing obedience school. Right: At home with some of his favorite toys.
“Buddy is headstrong, and we were able to improve how we interact with him, and vice versa,” explains Nicole, who even hand-fed Buddy so he would understand where his meals came from. Buddy also conquered his urge to chew inappropriate items through positive reinforcement and enrichment.
Their training notwithstanding, Buddy and Cinnamon go into a frenzy when they spot a bull moose eating berries from the mountain ash tree in their front yard, and they paste themselves against the picture window for a closer look.
Left: Pondering bison in Yukon Territory. Right: Watching the sunset at Point Woronzof in Anchorage.
Nicole and Andrew aren’t sure how long they will stay in Alaska, as Andrew’s job requires moving regularly. “If our next destination is back East, we’ll hit all the northern states Buddy hasn’t yet visited,” Nicole says.
Buddy, dressed for snow.
That means more adventures for Buddy—of the safe and loving kind.
Visit Buddy on Instagram: @Buddy_the_Adventure_Dog.
Read Part One of the “Rescued from Dogfighting” Series!
Read Part Three of the “Rescued from Dogfighting” Series!