Q&A: Karin Coyne of Adventures Unleashed

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
By Columbus Alive
From the October 10, 2013 edition

Karin Coyne is a lifelong dog lover who’s been working with man’s best friend since she was in her teens. Coyne met Abigail Curtis at a 4-H leadership camp for animals in high school, and the two were required to create an animal-related community project.

At that time, the two — who’re also avid outdoorswomen — were just looking to do some fun outdoor activities with their dogs, and didn’t realize the idea would become a business. Last November, Coyne and Curtis started Adventures Unleashed LLC, where they lead a wide variety of camps, workshops, trips, classes and adventure opportunities for both people and dogs.

With Adventure Unleashed our focus is encouraging an animal bond as well as outdoor activity. We offer dog parkour [and agility] classes and training for outdoor adventures. In the future we’re going to take trips with dogs and people; a backpacking experience to introduce people in a way that’s less intimidating than, “Go have fun in the woods; don’t get too lost.”

The activities are geared toward outdoor activities, but we have some indoor classes. Maybe some dogs aren’t ready for the outdoor environment, so we start indoors and then go outside.

For the indoor classes, we essentially went to the thrift store and found toy trucks, things that move, boxes, tires and any sort of thing the dog can climb on, jump on or go under. We have stations where dogs work on specific things each week. Indoor is nice because there’s an aspect of creativity and less distractions to really work on specific skills.

A decent amount of who people want to compete in dog agility come to the classes. Some have done agility in the past and no longer can. Or they want to do agility and are looking for a foundation. Some are just supplementing it; if the dog can be comfortable working in the city with all those distractions, they can work [anywhere].

I started doing parkour about two-and-a-half years ago. I’d run competitively for 10 years and after college I was looking for something unique. I also did a lot of agility stuff with my dog; the formal jumping, climbing and structured competitions. As a result of those two, I got into doing parkour with my dog. Then we realized people have a desire to do stuff with their dog that is fun and has a social aspect, but not have the competition.

One of the things I like about dog parkour is it’s not competitive. Anybody can do it. We have one dog in the class that’s 12 and can’t do competitive agility, but we can still find challenges that are unique. We can also target the six-month-old puppy that just isn’t ready for the competitive environment.

I have one dog, a 45-pound mix [named Caleb]. I tell people he’s part shark, coyote, fox, mountain goat and piranha. He was a shelter dog and was intended to be my competitive agility dog. I’d competed with my older dog quite a bit. When my older dog had to retire, I had every intention of competing with Caleb. It’s just not in him. That’s how I figured out the parkour stuff. He likes to climb and jump, but competitive agility wasn’t the environment where he could succeed.

We have more events in the works. The dog trips are planned for the spring, [which] would be eight to 10 people going backpacking with their dogs. They would have the option of learning the skills in class before, but we would also take them through a how-to of going on this kind of trip with your dog.