Story by: Sarah Smenyak
If you have been to any dog related function in Northwest Indiana, or have been a visitor to Chesterton’s European Market, you have probably seen Megan Camalick’s smile as she hangs out with dogs and showcases her Hoosier Dog Company merchandise. Megan’s smile is usually the biggest when she is around all her dog friends and the people who love them.
Megan was born and raised in Indiana and has lived in or near “The Region” most of her life. She is a self proclaimed “crazy dog lady” who grew up in a house that was always full of different animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits and even turtles. She has a soft spot for animals that need help and could never say “no” when it came to saving an animal by bringing it into her home. She loves all animals and she believes in giving a voice to the voiceless. She currently has a house full of her furry best friends. In fact she plead the 5th when asked exactly how many animals she has in her house, but simply stated “let’s just say there is a lot of love in our house, a lot of hair and a lot of rescue stories.”
Megan started her own dog walking business a few years ago, but even before that, she would go to different animal shelters to walk the dogs. The problem was that she would usually end up bringing a dog or a cat home with her from the shelters she volunteered at. Between the animals rescued from shelters, and the strays that seem to know how to find a kindred soul, and also being a favorite dog walker of many residents of the Dunes area, Megan had her hands full. She wanted to find a way to keep taking care of all her animal friends and continue to help the animals and dogs who were not as lucky to be in good homes.
Megan loves taking her dogs into the dunes!
One day she grabbed an old book off her bookshelf titled “Start Your Own Pet Business.” Inside the book there was a sketch she had drawn about 15 years prior. On the sketch were the words “Hoosier Dog.” She made some calls and found the right designer who helped her turn the sketch into a real logo. “Now I can give back a percent of every shirt purchased to the shelters! This definitely fills my heart! Every dog deserves the best world. I can’t wait until the day I can do more for every shelter animal.” She donates to as many different rescue organizations as she can. She said that the people who work in animal rescue organizations are some of the best people she has ever met and one of Megans’ favorite quotes is from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Megan’s favorite part of living in the Duneland area is living so close to nature. She loves being outside and hiking the trails with her dogs. She says it is “good for the soul.” Her favorite trail to take the dogs on is the Cowles Bog Trail, off of Mineral Springs Road in Porter. She also loves to walk along Beverly shores watching the view of Lake Michigan. Even when the weather or the bugs are tough, the dogs keep Megan going. “I can either let the elements get me down or I can go out and have fun with the dogs. The other day I dropped my phone in dog poop while I was cleaning it up! This is a typical day and I chose to laugh! I put a hood on when it’s raining, run when there are flies chasing me, bundle up in a snowsuit when it’s freezing. Life is all about making the best of your situation. I am sure it is comical to watch me walking downhill on ice being pulled by a young Golden Retriever named Lincoln,” says Megan.
But, mostly she just likes to let the dogs be dogs. She loves the look on a dog’s face when she arrives to walk or play with them. “They get so excited. Dogs are so loyal and deserve the world.” She likes to let the dogs lead, if they want to sniff for 30 minutes, she lets them sniff, if they want to play ball, she plays ball. Sometimes she just sits and scratches and loves on the dog, because that is what the dog seems to need and she feels like she is making their day a little less lonely while their owners are away. She loves working with other people’s dogs all day because it makes her feel like it allows her to have more dogs. “It is similar to having nieces and nephews because I get to play with them, give them lots of treats and then their parents come home to raise them. It’s purrrr-fect.”
Megan, her husband Jason, and their “Bark Rangers”.
One other place you might find Megan these days is on the Indiana Dunes National Park trails with one of her dogs who is now officially a “Bark Ranger.” The Indiana Dunes National Park has put together a program that does ranger led hikes with dogs. Also, dogs and their humans can work together toward being a Bark Ranger which is a fun way to get outside with your dogs and get involved within the community. Bark Rangers hike the National Park trails and are available to answer questions and guide tourists to the dog friendly areas within the park. The park also asks that dog owners keep their dogs on a 6ft leash, bag their waste and respect wildlife. More information on pet friendly trails is available at: https://www.nps.gov/indu/getinvolved/volunteer.htm For more information on the Bark Ranger Program contact Mari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan says that she eats a lot of treats, she is fetching goals and hoping for a lot of sales to help the animal shelters and continues to dream of the day the shelter cages are empty. You can find out more on the Hoosier Dog Company Website or follow them on instagram where the motto is: “We Eat. We Fetch. We Dream”.
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You can also find out all the dog friendly places in the dunes by clicking right here!