EP 28: Eli & Shannon Walton in Jackson, Wyoming

Shannon with Eli & Olive on the river

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How bringing a dog into your life can change you and your life for the better
  • Gifts dogs can bring into your life and lessons they teach
  • Connecting with and communicating with your dog
  • Experiencing the wild with your dog enhances it
  • Saying goodbye with compassion

Welcome to another episode of Free Range Dogs

In this episode, Web speaks with Shannon Walton, a professional outdoor guide for 15 years, and the former Executive Director of the Redside Foundation which provides mental health services for professional outdoor guides in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Shannon was a multi-day river rafting guide on the Salmon River, and a backcountry ski and backpacking guide in the Tetons near Jackson, Wyoming, for over 15 years.  While she enjoyed her work, it was difficult to develop a sense of community as the work involved moving from place to place and working with new clients constantly. Ironically, although guiding involved working with people, it could be lonely. 

Towards the end of her guiding career, a friend found a small husky who needed a home and told Shannon she needed him. She took him in, named him Eli, and he proceeded to change her life for the better. He was the anchor she needed.  She found that he only responded to love and that she learned from him how to communicate with compassion, slow down, be calm and kind when communicating, and accept love.

Shannon describes adventures in the wild with Eli, and how he brought joy and taught her to be more fully present and paying attention when out in the wild.  As Eli needed a lot of exercise, they hiked quite a bit and encountered other animals such as a moose, wolf, bear, and an eagle who became a hiking companion and friend to both.

Eli lived to be 15, and at the end of his life developed a form of Alzheimer’s.  Shannon describes the impact on his life how she was able to support him until the end, and how he died at home with the support of a veterinarian who is a friend.  


Shannon Walton



Former Executive Director of the REDSIDE Foundation