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Announcing the Winners of the 2024 Pet Photo Contest

Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine is celebrating another exciting year with its annual Adventure Critter Pet Photo Contest, where our region’s furriest explorers compete with their best photos of themselves in the outdoors. Sponsored by Dominion RiverRock, photos of all adventurous pets were welcome—furry, feathered, spiked, or even scaley! We received hundreds of submissions and thousands of votes for the ten finalists, but one came out on top. 

We are excited to announce the winner of this year’s contest is Devi and her owner, Andrea! The winning photo will be in our June print issue of 2024.

The runner-ups for this year’s contest are Luna and her owner Sandy coming in second place, and Rio and Penny with their owner Olivia in third place! We caught up with the victors to get to know the story behind the whiskers and where these furry trailblazers are exploring next. 

1st Place: Devi and Photographer Andrea Johnston

A sassy and loving hound mix, Devi was just eight weeks old when she came into Andrea’s life, who had recently gone through her sweet elderly rescue dog passing away. Back in June 2023, a friend of a friend reached out to Andrea saying three puppies had been found on a nearby interstate ramp, one of them who would soon go by the name of Devi. 

“I have always let my rescue dogs find me,” Andrea says. “My friend immediately told me about the 3 puppies being found on the interstate ramp. I knew right away one of them was supposed to come home with me and rushed to meet them. [Devi] climbed in my lap and put her head on my heart. It was love at first sight.” 

Devi as a puppy, courtesy of Andrea Johnston

Since coming into each other’s lives the two have gone on many adventures. They began hiking together when Devi was young to get her used to it, and now it is their favorite pastime together—especially places that have rocks to hop on and sand to dig in for Devi. The winning photo captures one of those special hikes together. 

“This was such an exciting day for us,” Andrea describes the day the winning photo was taken. “It was one of Devi’s first real waterfall hikes to one of my favorite places, Crabtree Falls. Even though she looks full size in the photo, she was only a little over 4 months old. The trail was pretty busy, as usual, but somehow, I managed to get that shot with no one in it. Devi absolutely loved meeting new friends and playing on the rocks.”

People can follow along their adventures on Instagram by following Devi’s account @devi_isababy.   

“She is such a sweet and fun girl and I feel so lucky to have her in my life,” Andrea says. “I already feel like I’ve always known her.”

2nd Place: Luna and Photographer Sandy Ponce

On March 26, 2023 after an unexpected stop at the local animal shelter, owner Sandy adopted a tiny one pound kitten on the spot and the adventures of Luna began! A sassy, spunky, and spicy one year old tuxedo kitten today, Luna loves to go on hikes and climb trees with her family. The 2nd place photo captures one of her adventures near the North Carolina entrance sign to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 

“She loved jumping and climbing over the downed trees and large rocks,” Sandy says. “She loves to play anywhere there are trees for her to climb and birds watch, especially my parents home in the mountains of WNC. One of our favorite memories was the first time she experienced snow and she didn’t know what to make of it!”

Follow the adventures of Luna on her Instagram and Tik Tok @luna_gataluntica.

3rd Place: Rio and Penny with Photographer Olivia Dannemiller 

Adventure duo Rio and Penny love to adventure—kayaking, camping, rafting, mountain biking, paddle boarding, or hiking, you name it, these pups love to go outside and play. Siblings from different litters, Rio came into Olivia’s life five years ago and Penny four. Loaded with energy, they especially love to run along their owner’s mountain bikes as they ride. The 3rd place photo captures one of their adventures to Big Bald on the border of NC/TN. After an exciting 14 mile hike to the open bald, they were running and jumping through the fields.

“Penny resembles a deer leaping through the fields,” Olivia says. “We go all over Western North Carolina. One of our favorite memories is rafting down Frank Bell’s rapid on section 9 of the French Broad after we did an overnight camp rafting trip. We also do an overnight backpacking trip in Linville Gorge every year and Penny helps carry both her and Rio’s food and supplies.”

Thank you to this year’s sponsor Dominion Energy River Rock!

This year’s Adventure Critter Pet Photo Contest sponsor is none other than Dominion Energy Riverrock! Happening in Richmond, Virginia from May 17-19, this event is all about getting outside and joining in the fun.

With in-person events, scavenger hunts, multi-adventure opportunities and races, and pop-ups throughout the entire weekend—there are plenty of ways to take part! Lace up your trail shoes, grab your paddles, charge your camera, and pump up your tires…these are three super-charged days! Learn more here:

Cover photo: Winning photo of the 2024 Adventure Critter Pet Photo Contest of Devi.

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