Welcome to Wear Wag Repeat Podcast Episode 13: Jen Sotolongo of Long Haul Trekkers is taking us on a trip through Europe and South America. Hear about what it takes to travel internationally with your pup and how this trio raised awareness for rescue dogs in their travels. We’ll also talk about writing for major publications like National Geographic.
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Jen is a blogger and photographer at Long Haul Trekkers, among other fun trades like writer, digital influencer, and vegan recipe developer. From 2015 to 2017, she and her partner took their dog, Sora, a rescued Australian Shepherd on a bicycle tour across Europe and South America. These days, you can find them running long distances in the woods, hiking in the Cascade Mountains, or indulging in a beer at a dog-friendly brewery.
Tori: Tell us about your blog Long Haul Trekkers. What is it about?
Jen: It started as a documentary of a bicycle trip across Europe and South America and has evolved into more adventure travel with dogs. When we were planning our trip, we didn’t want to leave our dog Sora behind and traveling by bicycle was one of the few ways we could figure out how to do that. We believe people can travel with their dogs. I think a lot of people want to do trips like we have done, and we try to be the source to help people figure out how to do that.
Tori: You take such amazing photos! Do you have tips on taking waterfall photos?
Jen: Initially I was hoping Sora would stay still for a few seconds, but my photos were always turning out blurry. So I’ve learned to combine 2 photos. I take one photo of Sora, sometimes with Dave, with a fast shutter speed. Then I take them out of the shot and I set my ISO to 100 and take a bunch of shots at different speeds to try to get the effect I want. Then I edit them in Lightroom to get the colors right and combine them in Photoshop.
Tori: What steps did you have to go through to be able to take Sora to different countries?
Jen: Sora has been to 24 countries! We started in Norway which is one of the more difficult countries to get a dog into. We didn’t have to quarantine Sora, but Norway required a health certificate from our vet and official health certificate from the USDA within 10 days before we left. Then we had to make sure she was updated on all her vaccines. For Norway she also needed a test that had to be administered within a really specific window before our travel. When we arrived we had to call their equivalent of the Norwegian USDA who sent a vet to meet us at the airport to check her microchip. Interestingly, their microchips run on a different frequency, so Sora has 2 microchips!
We had 1 stressful moment when we went from Turkey to Greece and had to stay in Turkey a few weeks longer than we planned to have a special rabies test done. That was one of the worst situations, but everything else wasn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Tori: Sora became pretty famous when you were in Medellin, Colombia. Can you tell me more about her rise to fame and the organization you worked with?
Jen: We worked with an organization called Defenzoores in Medellin, Colombia. They work to raise awareness about animal welfare and the importance of adopting. It all started when a group of college students found out that poison was being left out for dogs on campus. They were horrified and put a stop to it. Now it’s become an amazing organization.
We reached out and asked how we could help. They came back to us and said they wanted Sora to be the face of adoption in Medellin! We held a Q&A at the university talking with the public about the importance of adoption. In South America there are street dogs everywhere and people don’t see them as pets, they want the beautiful purebred dogs as a status symbol. Meanwhile you can find an adoptable dogs on the street. It was amazing to be the face of adoption in a place where they don’t really understand why its important.
Tori: You’ve written for National Geographic, that must have been a dream come true! How did that come about?
Jen: They actually found me and reached out. It was originally going to be an Instagram takeover, but that didn’t work out so they suggested I write about 10 adventures to take with your dog. Writing for National Geographic was a childhood dream of mine, so to have them reach out to me didn’t even seem real! I wrote a blog post for them about 10 trips to take with your dog. It ranged from hut-0to-hut cross country ski trips, to races you can run with your dog, and of course cycling trips. In the process I discovered more trips I want to take with Sora! I hope to write more pieces like this because there’s not a huge number of outlets that combine adventure travel with dogs.
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