Meet the Pack Leaders

Margot Van Natta

Pack Leader

My name is Margot Van Natta; and I am the owner and “pack leader” of Hiking Paws. I live in Bernardston, MA with my husband Erik, our son Jacob, and our two dogs: Sadie and Flynn. I have a passion for fitness and health, I love being around dogs, and can’t get enough of beautiful New England. As a former physical education teacher, I found it difficult to put in a full day of work and still meet the needs of my rambunctious, high-energy Lab, Sadie; and so, Hiking Paws was created!

I’m a practiced observer of dog body language, which gives me excellent pack management skills. This is important when structuring walks. Routes and packs are organized to optimize the enjoyment and exercise for each dog. Safety is my primary concern, so preventive measures are taken before and during each walk. I am trained in dog first aid and am a certified dog handler.

Dogs are our most trusted friends! Let Hiking Paws take your dog out for some much needed exercise! You’ll all be happier at the end of the day!

Virgina Manders

Virgina is a long-term valley resident and lives in Gill with her dog Abby. Abby’s reactive tendencies and hyperactivity have inspired Virginia’s interest in dog behavior. She’s constantly improving her skills about dog training, dog body language, and dog socialization through personal experience with Abby and by working with the pack members of Hiking Paws.

She is currently finishing up a B.S. in Kinesiology at UMASS and also has a background in dance. She has her EMT-Certification and Canine CPR/First Aid Certification. When she’s not working (or studying) you can find her practicing trapeze and handstands, gardening, foraging edibles and participating in other fun outdoor activities.

Some words from Virgina: “I’m a very high-energy person who loves dogs and the outdoors and am thrilled to have found a position at Hiking Paws. I hope to continue working here while pursuing a career as a corrective exercise specialist for aerialists/gymnasts.”

Elizabeth Diebold

Elizabeth recently moved to western Mass from northern Wisconsin where she raised and raced sled dogs for almost twenty years. Thousands of miles on the trail in all conditions along with several generations of rearing pups, has instilled a deep understanding of canine pack behavior. She has developed a keen eye for reading dog’s body language as well as a respect for the unspoken bond between dogs and their people.  

Elizabeth is a poet and woodworking artist as well as an avid hiker and yogi.  She lives in Amherst with her beagle, Rory.   She and Rory have enjoyed hiking and climbing all over New England since moving to the area and are excited to be part of the Hiking Paws crew.