Who says only people benefit from walking the Camino?

Who says only people benefit from walking the Camino?

Not me!

For over a decade, we wanted to take our dogs Gunny and Bacchus to the Camino with us. But in the 2000s, it was really tough to find a place where we could stay with dogs without camping outside and carrying a tent. And they were too old to walk 15 miles or more a day. Thus, we were never able to pull it off.

Me with my floral backpack tribute

I ultimately brought them both to the Camino with me, though. When Gunny died, I carried his ashes in my backpack and spread them in places that I thought he would like. I felt him with me. He whispered in my ear. I felt his soul, and I think “walking” with me, even in spirit, helped him with his transition and it helped me to feel closer to him even though he was no longer physically with me. Every day, I decorated my backpack with flowers to honor him. A walking funeral procession of sorts, I suppose. I brought his ashes to the Camino more than once. One of the reasons I looked forward to walking the Camino after he died in 2012 was because I knew our souls would have some quality time together when I was there. His spirit just seemed more accessible. If you want to read about our amazing life, you can check out our book, which tells our story both on and off the Camino.


When Gunny’s brother Bacchus died, we also brought Bacchus’ ashes. Bacchus was really more Juan Carlos’ dog, so JC carried his ashes a lot of the time. One of Bacchus’ many gifts to us was creating the space and the inspiration for us to start Duperier’s Authentic Journeys. It was on that Camino trip in 2013, near Najera, that Juan Carlos had the idea to bring people to the Camino and help them to immerse themselves in the culture and beauty of Spain and the path. Our Camino tour business was born on the path, with Bacchus’ ashes on JC’s back, in that moment.

Fast forward to 2015. We adopted an older rescue dog named Dino. I decided to take 6 weeks off from my job and go to Spain. We brought Dino with us to Spain with the intention of bringing him to the Camino. We did training walks with him both in the US and in Spain before we headed to the Camino. We knew he would not be able to walk very long distances so we devised an elaborate plan to be able to transport him partially by car.

Dino on the Camino

I can guarantee you that our city dog had never seen a cow or a horse or miles of beautiful scenery. He loved every minute of his walk, and our fellow pilgrims loved meeting him. He sported a shell on his collar and I carried his pilgrim credential and stamped it for him at all the stops. I spoke to him every day about letting go of the wounds of the past. To embrace his new life with us. His transformation was so amazing over the course of 10 days that people who had met him before the Camino literally thought he was a different dog. His interior transformation was reflected in his face and his being.

Now here we are in 2020. I have a new dog love, Beau. He is a little guy. Just 3 months old. He, too, is a rescue. Luckily he was rescued as a small pup so he doesn’t bear the extensive emotional scars that Dino had. Miraculously, he greets every living being with an open heart and love. Except birds, which he likes to chase! As we embark on our Virtual Camino, I am thrilled to be able to share it with Beau. It is a great chance for us to get to know each other. For me to see the world through his innocent new eyes. To look at life through a different lens. Even a mailbox is fascinating to Beau!


There is wonder all around us. Under very scary circumstances, we all have been given a “time out” to slow down and reflect on our lives. There will be incredibly hard days ahead of us regardless of what we do. Wherever you are, people are dying in your country and city. Amid our sorrow and grief, let’s try to get the best we can from this time we have been given. I whole-heartedly encourage you to share it with any four legged friends you have by bringing them along on your walks. Talk to them. Tell them what you are thinking. Try to see the world through their eyes. If you have loved ones who have passed, try connecting with them – human or animal. You may find them somehow more accessible in the quiet of your walk. Connecting with those we love, furry or not, is just one more way to enhance your Virtual Camino. Nothing would please Gunny and me more.

Did you like this article? Share it with your friends: