Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Camp Doglando Day 2

Wow, what an incredible experience this is even for us. Today, we started off our day with the kids greeting their puppies after their first night at Doglando. They each had their own style, but all showed a great concern for the puppies by asking them if they had a great night's sleep and they all eagerly took their puppies out of their crates and embraced each one of them with great compassion.

They tethered the puppies to themselves and then took the pups out for potty, came back in and we started our morning schedule. This involved feeding, medicating, cleaning the crates; them we all went out side and joined the Doglando daycare dogs. The kids LOVE this part of it just as much as camp. Actually, I think some love it a bit more than camp, because there are parts of the camp that they would rather miss out on, such forcing the puppies to overcome their dislikes of getting bathed said one camper. She does not like when she has to "make" the puppy get its bath.

We had a great day 2, I can not believe how receptive these kids are to dog training. In my regular classes (with adults) I have to repeat myself several times, and then ALWAYS demonstrate on some one's dog before letting them break away for practice sessions. Here, I have an imaginary dog that I use to talk the kids through each lesson and they've got it!

Then, something happened. I had to make a tough call, and call on one of the puppies to be picked up and replaced. Bella, appeared to have Kennel Cough and of course we could not risk any of the other puppies or Doglando Dogs getting sick. We have never in our three years of being open, had a kennel cough pass on through our facility, and this was certainly not going to be our first. I contemplated the effects this would have on that particular child who would have to face starting over with a new puppy, but thought it would be best to do it now, rather than a few more days into the program.

We called the rescue and they immediately came and replaced the puppy with another one, and took Bella to the vet. We took this opportunity to talk about how they might feel giving up the dogs at the end of their camp to their forever homes. Of course, today was not easy, nor will Graduation day be any easier, but by then we will have them prepared for feeling GREAT about making a difference, they will want to start all over again with another.

The new dog, Isabella (what a coincidence) started off very shy and flighty. The youth paired with this dog was initially very upset and disappointed feeling the dog did not care about her, and would not even eat from her. It was another great opportunity for us to talk about relationships and the time they take to build, trust, stress, realistic expectations, and a fair opportunity. As a team we came up with ideas for her to do with her dog that would open their communication. The kids were great and so supportive of the new dog and youth, I suggested they all take Isabella outside and let the Doglando daycare dogs show her it is okay for her to open up with us.... and it only took about an hour before Isabella was jumping on the youth for more!

In the afternoon, they played a couple of games to win prizes for their puppies, and then they had their grooming lesson. Rhyna, Doglando's Professional Pet Stylist (also at Groom Grub and Belly Rub), taught the kids how to bathe their dogs, clean their ears and dremmel their nails. The kids were really excited about this, as all of them were anxious to get their puppies smelling clean!

They later watched Rhyna groom a Schnauzer, and learned about dogs with ear hair and the importance of getting it plucked. They witnessed first hand the importance of developing a trusting relationship with a dog, or otherwise how difficult it would be to groom.

They wrapped up their day with a couple more training sessions and journal, while waiting on the ice-cream truck. Also at this time, we had the kids work on a mind teaser.... as they tired to figure it out, one youth said out loud "This is impossible!" Another, said after the first child "nothing is impossible," while yet a third whispered "If you Believe."

All of us (the adults.... 4 of us), looked up and just froze. We had this moment of silence and blank stare at one another as though we all heard the same thing and same voice speak, but could not believe what was said. Then we all started laughing in disbelief.

We had to end our day here! It was perfect!

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