Posted by: Elijah Stewart

  • 05/22/2024

Live Like Karlie

People appreciate being in ACRES preserves for different reasons. For Andie LaComb, what began as a simple way to enjoy nature’s beauty morphed into a deep motivation to help the dogs she loves enjoy every moment of their lives.

LaComb and her husband, Art, lived in San Diego, California, with their two dogs, Karlie and Anna. When Anna passed, LaComb and Karlie began hiking parks and canyons, LaComb photographing and jotting down their adventures together.

When LaComb noticed Karlie’s energy and mobility diminishing, a specialist diagnosed Karlie with geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis polyneuropathy (GOLPP), a rollercoaster of a disease affecting eating and mobility and causing muscle loss. Faced with this new reality, LaComb determined to make the best of her remaining time with Karlie.

LaComb wrote “Adventures with Karlie” to share Karlie’s life and their hiking adventures. This eventually became the springboard for her livelikekarlie.com website with hiking tips, reviews and gear recommendations to inspire other dog owners to live adventurous lives with their dogs.

Fifteen days after Karlie’s passing, the LaComb family adopted Sunny, a Catahoula/Australian Shepherd. Together, they continue hiking and exploring new places in California and Indiana, including many ACRES preserves.

Favorite ACRES Preserves

LaComb first learned about land trusts while living with Karlie in Bloomington. When Karlie passed and the family moved to Northeast Indiana, LaComb discovered ACRES preserves where she now hikes with Sunny, documenting many treks on the website.

When asked why they hike parks and preserves instead of neighborhoods, LaComb chuckled, replying, “Neighborhoods are so boring!” While living in Northeast Indiana, LaComb and Sunny have explored over 20 ACRES preserves, including these highlights:

Bicentennial Woods is LaComb’s favorite ACRES preserve, reminding her of preserves she and Karlie hiked in Bloomington with “a narrow trail winding through a forest of towering trees.” LaComb and Sunny have walked the preserve many times, recording three of their adventures on their website.

Seven Pillars Nature Preserve

Seven Pillars Nature Preserve ranks highest on LaComb’s “paw scale,” rating 4 out of 4 paws for its challenging hike through woods, a walk along the water and the view of the stone pillars.

Greenhurst Commons

Unique among ACRES preserves, Greenhurst Commons has the only trail entirely paved due to its previous use as a golf course, and later, a community park. LaComb says this preserve is “perfect for those with mobility issues but also good for runners, cyclists and walking your dog” (she and Sunny prefer earthen rather than paved trails).

Leashing Dogs

Because of LaComb’s years of experience hiking with dogs on trails, we asked her about leashing a dog in a nature preserve. “It’s incredibly important! There are so many things that could go wrong for a dog in nature.” LaComb says she drops the leash only for quick posed photos of her dog, using treats in her pocket to keep the dog next to her as she snaps a shot.

She says interactions with other dogs are tricky: “Karlie didn’t love every dog…she didn’t appreciate a dog running up to her. Even when people say, ‘My dog is friendly,’ that doesn’t mean your dog is going to be friendly to my dog in this situation. Not every dog wants to meet your dog.”

Your dogs and cats are welcome to join you as you hike ACRES preserves as long as they’re on a leash. Remember to remove pet waste! You can keep up with Andie and Sunny and all of their adventures at livelikekarlie.com.

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