Thursday, June 23, 2011

Camp Doglando Wee 2 Day 3

I'm not going to give you the run down of our day today, but I'll share some very precious moments that took place today.

One of our campers who absolutely has loved every moment of his days with us, asked me earlier this week if he could volunteer at Doglando. Well, typically, no, but there was no way I was going to deny him of this. Instead I told him why we have not had volunteers in the past, and watched his facial expressions from the corner of my eye while we drove to one of our outings. I told him, "however, I would allow you to volunteer, because you have been a great help to us." He said, "thank you, I like being helpful."

Today, on our way to Panera he rode with me, while the rest of them were in the other car. I allow the campers to take turns riding in the Doglando van, with the dogs, and today was his turn. On our way there, he mentioned having spoken to his mum about the volunteer opportunity. I asked him what she said.... she said "I think you might have found your calling, your brother has football, our sister has piano, and I think we may have found your thing." I had to turn to him completely, and his face was priceless! He was so proud, so happy, so excited, so honest, so pure.... It was such a sentimental moment, because I remember when I felt this way for the first time when I volunteered at a dog rescue in England. I remember my family's support, and my mum and dad's unconditional support in allowing me to pursue Doglando. distance

Another precious moment:

Nearing the end of Camp Doglando Session 1, our training goals have become more complex in the sense, we are not expecting our dogs to offer some behaviors automatically, and others with increased distraction, duration and distance. Most of our training practices are based on real life applications. The one they had to accomplish today was leaving their dog in a down stay for a solid two minutes, while they went into the house (pretending its a shop at Waterford Lakes). The dogs had other dog distractions around them, and the distraction of Doglando staff..... but they had to maintain the down position until the handler released them. The campers and their pups are just incredible! Every dog and handler team completed this and they did it like pros. It is unbelievable how well the puppies work for the kids, it is envious, truly!

Another precious moment:

On our way back from Panera, I learned more about another camper that I did not know. This has been interesting in so many ways, and it takes me back to days when I worked with children full time. Here is a camper who displays herself so tough and confident, and maybe even a teaser sometimes.... but inside is a very compassionate, sensitive and soft person with a huge heart. Last week I thought two weeks per group maybe too long, today I realized it maybe too short. We are just beginning to learn about these kids and develop our friendship, then in a few days it will all be over.

On the same level, I had not considered the bond the puppies would have developed with the campers in such a short time, this actually makes me very sad because the only unfair part of this entire experience was that the dogs don't know this was just part of camp.

I hope they all get adopted so they don't have to return to their shelters.

Another precious moment;

At the end of the day, another camper asked about being able to continue coming and volunteering at Doglando. I have been curious to know how the campers have felt about our camp, and the stories they tell their parents when they get home. In talking to his mum, she said they had family in town that the camper had not seen in over 6 months, one of which is his cousin who is the same age and normally they are inseparable. Despite their presence, the camper has woken up on time ready to go all week and told his cousin he was not could not stay back... even though his parents may have let him.

I know were not the reason for him wanting to come each day, but his puppy sure is! Every camper has been so much more responsible than I originally thought they might have, these are proud moments for us.

While in the car ride back from Panera, he was in the car with one of our Campus Coaches, and I guess all the kids were talking about being able to take their puppies home with them. This past Monday, we allowed the campers to take the puppies home if they wanted, as long as of course we had permission from the parents.

In this conversation, he said "I thought about taking my puppy home, but I did not think it would be a responsible thing to do." He has two dogs, 5 snakes, three cats and a few other pets, and he felt that the puppy would be too stressed with all that and a new place, it would be more comfortable for him to rest in peace and quiet at Doglando. Wether this was the discussion his parents had with him, or truly something he came up with on his own, he was genuine in his decision. This was the most responsible thing to do, "we agree" the coach said, "good job."

1 comment:

Denise Zaldivar with IES said...

I am truly enjoying reading the posts on the Doglando Camp. What a great opportunity for these kids. What you wrote about the puppies and the kids having this enourmous great chemistry makes me think of one thing: truly pure feelings, emotions, no negative judgements or opportunistic behavior. This is awesome. It goes to show how humans and animals CAN exchange great energy and communicate even at a different level. What level is it? This "energy" that is exchanged...I find this fascinating..Great CAMp! I can't wait for my daughters to be old enough to join, too!