The 50th anniversary of Earth Day (this April 22) would be momentous no matter what, but this year, at this particular time, appreciation of the natural world and the creatures with whom we share it takes on special meaning. To mark the occasion, we turned to you, our community from around the world, and asked for images of you and your pets out in nature, whether trekking into the wilderness, swimming in the sea or just walking in the woods. Watch this video and then check out the back story behind some of the images from the photographers themselves.
And, when you can, go outside. Take in the fresh air. Smell the flowers, feel the grass under your feet, peer up into the treetops, watch how the light changes—and do it all with your furry (or feathery or scaly) friend by your side. Let nature (and your pets) nurture you.
Here Comes the Sun: Lily and Koa
In urban areas, it can seem impossible to find your own slice of nature. But Virginia photographer Samantha Brooke Mignone found a solution: rising with the sun.
Mignone brought her Golden Retrievers Lily and Koa to Manassas Battlefield National Park in northern Virginia at sunrise, she says, “hoping there’d be fewer people and greater solitude.” During the day, Manassas is a popular (read: crowded) destination for both tourists and locals from nearby Washington, D.C. But in the early hours, Mignone and her pups had the golden fields to themselves. “I could see for a mile in all directions that no one was near, so I let the dogs run as the sunrise peeked over the trees.”
Communing with nature is transformative for the dogs, Mignone says. “They’re happiest when they’re outdoors, whether that’s hiking Blackrock Summit in Shenandoah National Park or running around in the field at my parents’ house. They’re completely different dogs when they’re given space and trails.” And having her pups by her side helps Mignone reconnect with what’s really important. “It allows us to have new experiences as a family, meaning time away from screens and more time spent together.”
Roadside Attraction: Chapati
When Chapati was rescued from the streets of India in 2017, she couldn’t have known she had a life of travel awaiting her. But three years later, this Indian Pariah pup has explored the great outdoors with her parents Kristina Masalova and Eugene Petrus in 30 countries and counting—never forgetting to stop and reflect on the natural wonders around them.
“Chapati adores adventures in nature. There are many more things to explore compared to the city,” Masalova says. “She loves to watch birds, to catch different bugs, to bite each stick she sees, to smell unusual scents. She just enjoys every moment.”
On the long drive from the Ukranian Carpathians to the capital of Kiev, the trio noticed the spectacular rural landscape surrounding them, and pulled over to take it all in. Chapati was grateful for some time out of the car, and excited to discover a new vantage point atop a bale of hay. “She looked like she felt really comfortable on that soft surface!” Masalova says.
Masalova knows these moments are precious, and it’s important to her to make the most of each one. “Dogs’ lives are too short, so we prefer not to lose our time together,” she says. “And exploring nature always helps to make this time even more special.”
The Path Less Traveled: Milo
Jessie Russell was on her way to one of her usual hiking trails with her cat Milo and dog Moki when she noticed some cars parked on the side of the road next to a trailhead. So, she pulled over and followed her adventurous spirit. “I’m glad I did!” she says, adding that the trail has become a favorite for both her and her intrepid pets. “I love that even in my hometown I’m still finding new places like this. Milo and Moki keep me motivated to get out there and explore.”
Discovering nature together is a bonding experience for the trio. “I always bring Milo and Moki out together, so even though he’s not in the photo, Moki was right there with us,” Russell explains. “Milo really enjoys forest trails with lots of trees to climb and scratch on. I can tell from their body language and energy levels that they both really thrive outside. They tune into the same noises and scents and are constantly checking in with each other.”
Russell’s always been an outdoorsy person, so when she decided to adopt, she looked for pets with adventurous personalities. It paid off—the three now spend their free time hiking, camping and paddle boarding in the great outdoors.
“Bringing them with me makes me slow down and be more mindful and in the moment,” Russell says. “It's also a great way to develop a deeper bond and connection with each other, and it grows stronger every time we go out.
Making a Splash: Hokule’a
Cats and surfing might seem to go together like oil and water. But nobody told Hokule’a, a domestic shorthair who rules the coast in Hawaii.
“Some time ago, we realized that Hokule’a not only sits and walks on the surfboard, but he jumps in the water and swims effortlessly,” explains Alessia Sapori, who cares for the feline wonder with her partner, Pat Myers. “He’s a very fast swimmer.” Inspired by Hokule’a’s affinity for the water, they began bringing him on surfing trips—and he’s a natural. In this video, Hokule’a’s doing what he always does at the end of a surfing session: “I call him and he jumps in the ocean and swims toward me, into my arms. It has become our thing.”
Hokule’a’s love for nature doesn’t end at the water’s edge. He’s also a forest hiker. “He's very curious and he's a good hunter,” Sapori says. “He takes his time to study the surroundings, then, after he verifies that there are no dangers, he turns into a mini panther.”
On land or at sea, Hokule’a is by his parents’ side 24 hours a day, “so adventuring with us is just a natural consequence,” Sapori says. “Exploring together has made our cat-human bound much stronger.”
Downhill Dog: Max
Imagine gliding down a white, powdery ski slope in picturesque Austria. Now imagine doing it with one of your best furry friends under each arm. That’s an average day at the slopes for Thiago Ferreira, his husband Jean-François and their Parson Russell Terriers, Max and Louise.
The idea to take the pups to Hahnenkamm, a renowned ski slope in Kitzbuhel, Austria, struck Thiago while he was dining out in the resort town. “I saw many dogs at the mountain restaurants while skiing, so I had the idea to show Max and Louise an amazing downhill adventure,” he says.
The dogs thrived in the snow, Ferreira says, spending the afternoon gliding down the mountain, each carried under one of Jean-François’ arms. These days, the duo participate fully in the family’s ski adventures, sharing a meal in local restaurants before hitting the slopes. “They love to do sports with us,” Ferreira says. “They need to be dogs, to have freedom, play, smell different things. That’s a dog’s life!”
Wide Open Spaces: The Haflingers
Beneath the Mission Mountains of northwest Montana, Britt Myers spent four years caring for a stable of haflinger horses—so she’s seen the bond between these haflingers and nature firsthand. Even in the harsh winters of northwest Montana, “the horses actually prefer the outdoors and the elements to sheltering in a barn,” Myers says. “I see them as a part of the land, and I believe they feel they are a part of it too.”
Those years together forged a bond between Myers, who moved to Portland in 2019, and the haflingers as well. They followed her around the ranch, she says, and when she’d have to slip inside, they stood waiting for her to return so they could resume their walks across the countryside together beneath the wide-open sky. Even in the coldest months of winter in “the middle of nowhere,” she says, “they made being outside fun and entertaining.”
“My favorite part of being in the great outdoors with the haflingers is that my experience—no matter what it is that I’m doing—is heightened,” she adds. “When deer or coyotes or people were nearby, I always knew by watching the horses. They notice so many subtleties that I would otherwise ignore.”
Adventure Bunny: Bounty
Yes, even rabbits can take outdoor adventures. Just ask Bounty, a dwarf angora rabbit who’s often found soaking up the picturesque views around his home in the French Riviera, near the Maritime Alps.
“We feel good when we’re outside,” says Chloe Roudrigue, Bounty’s mom. “We are close to the sea, we hear the waves, the birds, the wind—it’s soothing.”
Bounty has a calm temperament, Roudrigue says, which makes her feel even more serene as they take in their tranquil surroundings. Plus, he has been raised to appreciate his freedom—he’s never been in a cage, so he’s never learned to hold back from exploring. Together, they wander from cliffs to seaside in search of the next adventure.
“I like to see him free, in the grass or by the beach,” she says. “I think he likes to discover new places and new landscapes, just like me!”
Looking for more Earth Day inspiration? Check out these photographers for more incredible shots of pets in nature.
Photo by @nicolehandel
Photo by Jan vT
Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan
Photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge
Photo by Wilfried Santer
Photo by Cole Wyland
Photo by Jamie Street
Photo by Patrick Hendry
Photo by Yasin Hoşgör
Photo by Tadeusz Lakota
Photo by Marek Szturc
Photo by Patrick Hendry
Photo by Kyle Johnson
Photo by Alex Azabache
Photo by Bruno Cervera
Photo by Mel Elías
Photo by Emmerson Willett