Lonely Planet Writer

How this once abused rescue dog became a hiking Instagram star

Meet the rescue dog who overcame her fear of noise and people by going on hikes and adventures including abseiling and ziplining, and has picked up more than 22K Instagram followers along the way. Five-year-old Pit Mix Penni spent the beginning of her life locked in the basement of a drug house where she was subjected to physical abuse and mental anguish from the owners.

Penni spends her time hiking. Image by Blaine DeLuca / mediadrumworld.com

Her owners abandoned her on the streets of the Bronx, New York when she was two years-old and she was put in an overcrowded pound where she was immediately placed on the euthanasia list. Fortunately, a rescue group called Fur Friends in Need saved her again before she was adopted by current owner Blaine DeLuca (29) from Canton, GA, USA who came up with the unique solution to conquer her fears.

Penni overcame her fear of noise by going on hikes and adventures. Image by Blaine DeLuca / mediadrumworld.com

“I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that she was terrified by everything,” he said. “At the time, I lived in a busy town in New Jersey. Because of the noise, I often had to wait until late at night to walk her. If not, she would constantly be shaking in fear. As a result, I started taking her on small nature trails during daylight hours in order to help her relax. She immediately responded. She was an entirely different dog when we were in the solitude of the forest. Fast forward about a year and we moved to Las Vegas.

Penni with her new family. Image by Blaine DeLuca / mediadrumworld.com

“Obviously, Vegas is known for its bright lights on the Strip. A lesser known fact, though, is there is an enormous amount of diversity in landscape within a couple hours of Vegas. The area has so much to offer. Knowing the success, I had with taking her on small hikes in the past, I was not about to leave her behind on these new adventures. The hikes were not nearly as intense at the beginning, but as her passion became more and more evident, my confidence in her grew, as well. Before long, I had absolutely no reservations in taking her anywhere. There is no terrain she cannot handle.”

Penni overcame all her fears and can hike anywhere. Image by Blaine DeLuca / mediadrumworld.com

Penni has been to countless places throughout Nevada, California, Utah, and Arizona. The backgrounds seen in her photos are enough to make anyone melt with envy. She is well-versed in long-distance hiking, high elevations, rappelling/canyoneering, cliff-side scrambles, and even has a little experience zip-lining. “If I had to choose one highlight out of everything, though, I would give that distinction to
Havasu Falls in Arizona,” added Blaine. “We covered over 40 miles during our three days there and saw absolutely everything the area has to offer. If you are unfamiliar with Havasu Falls, a quick Google search will reveal exactly how mesmerizing the area truly is.

“Anyone that has hiked with Penni will be quick to agree that she is happiest when she is outside. Whether it is on top of the mountain or walking down the sidewalk, her demeanour reaches a new peak when adventures are abreast.” Penni, like any other dog, is not allowed in America’s National Parks, which drives Blaine crazy as he doesn’t ever want to leave her behind.

Penni has found happiness with her new owner. Image by Blaine DeLuca / mediadrumworld.com

He had a message for other dog owners who might be admiring his and Penni’s adventures. “Every dog owner makes the decision whether to truly integrate his/her pup into the family,” he explained. “Some consciously make that decision; others subconsciously. The reality, though, is that it is, in fact, a choice. You have the choice to include your dog in daily endeavours. You have the choice to treat your dog the way it deserves to be treated. So, the next time your dog greets you at the door with uncontrollable happiness choose whether you have a good answer to this simple question: what did we do to deserve dogs?”
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By Mark McConville/mediadrumworld.com