Wild run. A total of 70 humans and 63 dogs are expected to participate in the January 30 trek in the Human & K9 Ultimate Challenge Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai In a first for the Middle East, a group of humans and canines has embarked on an unlikely adventure in the UAE to explore nature and rediscover the deep bonds that exist between the two species.

If the January 10 pilot run to the Human & K9 Ultimate Challenge is anything to go by, the actual event on January 30 is a lifetime opportunity for dog lovers in the UAE to experience the wild with a pack of dogs.

The brainchild of Dubai resident and adventurer Hussain Hussam Darwish, the initiative entails a three-hour trek through the wild wadis of Ras Al Khaimah. “The bond between a segregated breed of wolves and man has accomplished unlimited challenges throughout history. Darwish and his K9 companion Chaka have mastered the challenge of hiking in the mountain ranges of the UAE and Oman along with buddies Matt Wilson and Barry Lee Cummings,” said field marshal Massih Shahbazi, adding that the opportunity was now being extended to the public.

Shahbazi said: “A total of 70 humans and 63 dogs will be taking part in the January 30 trek being supported by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority and animal groups Fish4 Dogs and K9 Friends, from whom participants without dogs can even foster dogs for the event. The participants are of various backgrounds, include expats and Emiratis, and are aged between 13 and 50. The dogs are mostly big and belong to different breeds.”

Strengthen bond

He said the trek will begin at 7am with participants taking off in batches every half hour. The duration of the trek for every batch will be three hours.

Darwish said the main aim of the challenge is to strengthen the bond between humans and canines. “The trek relies on teamwork between dogs, friends and families. We have carefully chosen the path through the wadis of Ras Al Khaimah and our pilot run has ensured that the coordinates and checkpoints are in place. The wadi will allow even beginners to join the challenge, with smaller dogs capable of going up to checkpoint 3. The terrain thereafter gets rocky and daring.”

Shahbazi said the safety of the dogs is priority, so the VetCare Medical Center will be on site for health checks before and during the hike. “All dogs will be on a leash at all times and will have to come with sports harnesses. If required, they may be asked to wear a muzzle for safety.”

The fee for participation starts from Dh200 for one person and one dog and goes up to Dh800 for five persons and five dogs. It is inclusive of a barbecue lunch for the participants and a goodie bag of treats for the dogs.

More details on www.facebook.com/HumanK9Challenge