Several weeks ago Teena (Chief Camp Counselor) and I were discussing Camp Doglando and she asked if I knew anyone who would like to take pictures and video of the camp. I thought about it for a second and said ‘I’ll do it’. In all honesty, I didn’t really know what I was committing to, but how bad could it be? I love photography, videography and dogs, and the kids shouldn’t be too bad either. As it turns out, I had no idea how much I would learn on day one.
The day started out with Teena giving the campers a tour of Doglando and explaining how the campus coaches train the dogs without hurting them. With 40+ dogs attending daycare, the campus coaches must have these dogs under control at all times. I have been a Doglando client for several years and was surprised by how much I learned today. Next, the campers were able to try their hand at managing the dogs. One camper stood by the gate and called the dogs one by one to go through the gate. Another camper stood 1/2 down the yard to slow the dogs down as the ran into the backyard. It was very interesting to see how quickly the campers learned the techniques.
While we were waiting on the bus, Teena asked the campers how they thought we should go about choosing which puppy should be paired with which camper. They did not want us to do it, but wanted to work it out themselves. I think all the camp counselors thought there could be an issue if more than one camper wanted the same dog. Amazingly, they all picked different dogs so there were no issues with anyone becoming disappointed.
Once the bus arrived, we went to Petland, SPCA and Orange County Animal Services (OCAS). The campers were able to see what options are available when acquiring a puppy or dog. They loved Petland because they were able to play with several of the puppies. I think it gave the campers great perspective to go to SPCA and OCAS to see where animals end up when they are no longer wanted.
After lunch, we discussed the difference between companion, working, and homeless dogs as well as how food can be a great motivator. Wow, these campers are really smart and these topics sparked some great conversation.
The campers were then introduced to their puppies and began training. They learned how important hand feeding is in establishing a relationship with a puppy (or dog) and they taught their puppy to not exit the crate until they were instructed. They also began training them how to sit and how to walk on a leash. Of course, puppies are not going to learn all of these commands in one sessions, but they have an excellent start. We will continue to develop these skills, as well as others, throughout the next two weeks.
Once the training was done, the campers were encouraged to write in their journal any information they think the new adopting family might want to know about their puppy. The campers will keep a daily journal that will be given to the adoptive families at the camp.
I thought it was a great day and it was so refreshing to see how dedicated, compassionate and smart these young people are. Can’t wait for Day 2!