The Sanctuary of the Great Lakes is home to many interesting, adventurous souls. You’ve recently met Leo the Hiking Cat and his human companion Josh Stephan. Now, we’d like to introduce you to the most adventurous Siberian Huskies you’ll ever know! Jessica and Jamie Hatch are an Alpena couple that have turned their admiration for Northeast Michigan, their love for their dogs, and their social media into a digital phenomenon. Their Facebook page (GonetotheSnowDogs) has 2.8 million followers; their YouTube channel (GonetotheSnowDogs) has 460,000 subscribers and 103 million views; their Instagram account (GonetotheSnowDogs) has 202,000 followers. Read on to meet this active couple, their pups, and learn what they love about the Alpena area.
Introduce your dogs and their personalities:
We currently have 3 and they are all Siberian Huskies. Oakley is our oldest, and she is our big goofy Fluffy Butt. She was a rescue, so she has some anxiety issues, but she is a great dog. Shelby is our middle dog, and she is a diva, no joke. Shelby would be the diva who would request a bowl of only purple Milkbones if she was getting ready to perform, and not perform without them. And then there is Memphis, our youngest. Memphis is the happiest dog ever. Every moment of her life is the best moment of her life ever, no matter what!
You take your dogs on lots of adventures; share some fun stories about memorable moments:
My favorite moments with the dogs are always our camping trips. You can’t even say camping in our house without them going crazy. A few years ago we did a big trip to the UP and took the dogs to 35 different waterfalls during a 3-day trip. Another time we went to Lake Gogebic State Park, and it was raining. The forecast called for rain all day, so we loaded up the dogs and just started to drive west, away from the rain. We ended up in Minnesota! We stopped at a bunch of waterfalls along the way and by the time we got back to the campground, it was still raining! This year we camped at Muskallonge Lake State Park in April on opening day. We were the only people there, and there was still some snow on the ground.
You include your dogs in a lot of everyday adventure activities. How do you train and socialize your dogs to be well-mannered around people, but also have an enjoyable experience as a dog?
I get asked this a lot. When you take your dogs everywhere and let them experience everything from a young age, they tend to not get so over stimulated with new experiences. They fall into a routine after a while and just seem to know how to act. They all get very excited to see new people, but they tend to contain their excitement when we are in “walk” mode. Memphis is the youngest and she still tries to get everyone to pet her, but the other two tend to just keep walking.
Our all-time favorite Northeast Michigan activity is Dog Sledding! We will try to go to the snowmobile trails during the weekdays since there are very few people on them, and run the dogs a bit on the trails. That’s mainly a wintertime activity of course. After that would be hiking for sure. We go to Rockport, the sinkholes on Leer road, camping at Sunken Lake, and we also enjoy taking them down to the beach to go swimming. Oakley is not a fan of water, but Memphis and Shelby love it! And of course, they do enjoy a nice Jeep ride through the woods with the top down!
You’re not just a dog owner, but a dog owner that shares the lives of your dogs with others. Describe your Social media activities and what inspired you to start sharing your lives on the internet?
On the internet, we are known as Gone to the Snow Dogs, and you can find and follow our adventures just about anywhere. We make a variety of content (photos, videos, live shows), that we share. I was inspired by a fellow YouTuber who asked his viewers to make a video of their pets and put it to a song he had created. I decided to do it just for fun, and the response it got was great, and the passion to do more was born. We created our current YouTube channel, which led to a few more, and now we create every single day!
We created Gone to the Snow Dogs on Nov 29, 2009. We started our business almost 3 years later when we started to make a bit of money from our adventure. In December of 2016, my husband and I decided to take the leap and we both left our jobs at my family’s restaurant, (Take 5 Deli), and put all of our time and effort into our own business. So far things are still looking up! We have diversified what we do, and create much more than just YouTube videos now. Our dogs even have their own Pawtographed posters that we sell!
You have quite a large audience of people who are interested in your dogs, how do you interact with them?
Social Media is meant to be social. We do our best to respond to many of the comments we get. Another thing we do is live shows so that we can interact with our audience in real time. We have done meet and greets with the dogs so that people can meet them in person, and Jamie and I go to conventions from time to time (sadly the dogs usually have to stay home), so that we can meet more of our audience and other creators as well.
As a result of sharing the story of life with your dogs, you’ve raised interest in Alpena with your audience. What are people curious about regarding the place where you live?
We have had so many audience members visit Alpena because our videos show them what a beautiful area this is. We have even had friends move up here to enjoy everything Alpena has to offer. I think part of the reason people are curious about where we live is because we tend to show a lot of the area.
Some vloggers never reveal the city they live in, and some choose not to show their cities. We are proud of Alpena and proud to be Michiganders, and we want the world to see how beautiful the area is! Sometimes people just don’t know what small town living is like, and we try to show some of that in our videos. No traffic, very little crime, no expressway. . . sometimes people don’t understand how we function, so we show them!
How do you share the highlights of living in Northeast Michigan with your audience? What else has grown from your initial effort to share life with your dogs?
We share the highlights through our Vlog channel (Snow Dogs Vlogs). When we want to go do something fun, we just grab the camera and document what we are doing so that we can share it. I think my love for Michigan has grown even stronger because of what we do. It gives us even more of an excuse to go on adventures and see what is out there in this world!
Do you have any stories from your audience about how your dogs make them happier through interaction on social media?
Oh, the list on this could go on and on. The dogs get mail sent to them to their P.O. Box, and many times we get drawings from younger children, and sometimes we get letters from their parents. I recently got a letter from a woman with a non-verbal autistic child who is in love with our videos and our dogs. She told me she loves that she can just put our channel on and knows that it’s safe for her daughter to watch. She says [her daughter] smiles the entire time and that it helps to calm her down in bad situations. She thanked us for doing what we do. It’s letters like that, that really remind me why we keep doing this. I had another one from a young man with cancer. He sent us photos from the hospital. He said he watches the dogs and our vlogs because we always try to be so positive and happy and that he was trying to do the same even though he had cancer. He wanted to stay positive so he could beat it. We did hear a few weeks later that his surgery went well and he was going home. I have also had people with depression write to us and tell us how our content has helped them. We create content not only for ourselves but to hopefully, in some small way, help others smile. It doesn’t matter if 1 person watches or 100,000 people watch, as long as we made someone smile, it was worth it.
Feel free to join the #Pawdience and enjoy the adventures that they share!
*All photos courtesy of Gone to the Snow Dogs, Jessica & Jamie Hatch