• Illustration of family walking a dog
CSA Images/Printstock Collection
On vacation but miss man’s best friend? Consider taking a “paws” in paradise to visit a shelter dog.

HIKING WITH HOUNDS, a new partnership between the Virgin Islands National Park Service and the Animal Care Center of St. John, pairs “voluntourists” with shelter dogs on a ranger-guided exploration of the island’s trails. The free, weekly, morning hikes are a chance for the dogs to leave their kennels and socialize while giving visitors a narrated look at the park. Hikes follow the one-mile Lind Point Trail loop, which climbs gradually through the forest to a vista overlooking Cruz Bay and St. Thomas. The program has been a great catalyst for adoptions. Nearly 40 percent of the shelter’s dogs find homes stateside, shelter officials say. Leashes in the program fill fast, and new volunteers must visit at least once before the trek to be paired with a dog.

To arrange a hike, call (340) 774-1625 for times; the adopting family is usually responsible for the cost of shipping a dog stateside.