Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Camp Doglando Day 1

Camp Session II:

The excitement begins with a total of 10 kids and 10 dogs. Our main monument sign that sits on East Colonial appropriately says, "Welcome Campers" on one side and "Live, Learn, Dog" on the other.

I'll begin by introducing the dogs: 2 Shelties from Mid Florida Sheltie Rescue, 1 mutt from Poodle and Pooches, and 7 mutts from Pet Rescue by Judy all on their way to a college education at the University of Doglando. And their professors: 10 Youth Campers!

By the time the kids arrived, all their puppies were shuffled in with the daycare dogs so they had no idea who the "camp dogs were." They put away their lunch bags and were thrown right into the morning "chaos" (I use that in a positive way) of leading Doglando's doggy daycare dogs to the beach area called Retriever Bay.

Here was our first lesson for the day. A few of the kids were give slip leads, another few our healing guides, while the remaining couple were on keen territory watch, watching for sneaky dogs that might try to barge through the gates while the others are made to patiently wait before entering. We had all our bases covered, a plan of action, all kids prepared and then game on!

I saw one of the campers reaching down to put a slip lead around a dog I thought would certainly react out of anxiety and fear... so I started walking towards him to help. Every other dog he grabbed, he did it as though as a routine and without much thought, but this particular dog, he immediately sensed was different. He knelt down and extended his hand and in a low whisper he said "its okay, it's okay...) I stood back and watched him allowing him to figure it out on his own, and he successfully was able to put the dog on leash. I commented on his actions, as he did not realize I was standing there watching him, and as he walked calmly by me, at the dog's pace, he said "well some dogs just need time." There is a lot to be said about this you know.... it's not just his empathy and understanding towards this animal but its knowing he has to give more in this relationship for it to pay off, and he must remain patient.... these life lessons I bet mean more and have a greater impact on these kids than teaching it to them in any other way. I happen to know this camper and his mum (and family) and he has learned this from all his experiences fostering puppies... his mum is an avid foster mum to shelter dogs.

On the contrary, but still fun and its all about living, learning and dogging this week..... another camper chased a little dog around Retriever Bay in an attempt to get her dog on the leash. That's pretty normal, and very typical of adults. Certainly the differences are learned.... I wonder if the child has seen her parents run after their dog's every time they got out.
As she ran on by me, still chasing the dog I asked her "who do you think is going to tire out faster your or the dog?" And she huffed and puffed then bent over her knees, clearly her! But still no dog! So we laughed about it, and then I showed her how to call the dog in.

They all switched positions at the gate entering "Boxer's Ring" our 2 acre freedom space as we call it. At this point, things moved so fast, that we did not even have a chance in introducing our selves, so we did not even know each other's names.... it would sound more like (a point to the person I was talking to), "please come here" for that I needed eye contact, and ask you can imagine, all eyes certainly weren't on me, when they stood amongst doggy land as one camper called it.

This led to a great discussion, the importance of name recognition in a dog. A dog that does not respond to a name, is a dog that is certainly not attentive, and even if he/she wanted to be, there was no way for us to capture his/her attention while the dog is off leash and in a big open space. This can also become very frustrating for a dog, because the only way we can communicate to him/her is by going into their personal space each time and grabbing them for them to know we are talking to them. Same applied to the kids and us. They did not know my name in the beginning (which sometimes is a good thing lol by the end of the day all I heard was echo's of Ms. Teena, Ms. Teena, Ms. Teena lol)... so they would tap me, or I would point at them. After this discussion we introduced our selves!

As expected based on our last camp experiences, the kids absolutely loved being amongst the day care dogs. Some of the dogs were a bit puzzled at their presence, and you know they say dogs have the mentality of a 2 (ish year old child), when everything is there's..... you could certainly see some of the dogs disappointed momentarily that they had to share their playground.

We gathered for another quick discussion on excitement. We talked about how they feel when they are excited, and it was apparent, that it was not easy to control or stay focused when you are excited. We used themselves as an example talking about what could happen if we don't take a short moment to discuss the dangers involved, and if I just let them all go.... they all shot out loud with answers.

We let them interact with the dogs while we watched and learned more about them just by watching them. Do you remember the post I wrote on "Does your dog like being patted, or do you like patting your dog?" If not, search for it in the archives. The point being, we all feel we know how to appropriately pet a dog, and we feel the dog's we pet love being patted and that every other dog we encounter surely loves our patting as well. We all feel we know how to play with a dog, and the style in which we play with our own dogs is certainly the way to play with other dogs. NOPE! Another lesson and point of discussion.

We huddled again this time to point out all the camp dogs, and same as last camp I asked them if they would like to choose their own dogs or if I needed to pick them for each, and in synchrony they said "we want to pick." So my next question, "what happens if all of you want the same dog?" Duh! "...Rock paper scissors" must be a common way to resolve battles in school lol.

This was very interesting. Each child choose a dog that I felt either looked like themselves or was a resemblance to their personality. And folks, if you have not experienced kids ever, it does not take longer than a few minutes to get to know them. They are no nonsense people! It is what it is, say it how it is, move on.... the thinking part comes later if at all some may say out loud while reading this lol! Same with dogs and thats the beauty of their understanding with each other.

They all choose dogs that were a great match for themselves, one in particular that I love is a camper that appears to be a bit more shy and reserved, his dog is certainly going to put him all out there lol!

They carried their dogs inside, and then we went over the not so fun part of dog parenting, but a part you better lear to grow a love for! We nailed down the rules and made it very simple, either you can learn to love it, as my mum always said... "you can learn to love to put away the dishes or you can continue to hate it, not only will have you to do this the rest of your life, but you will spend a lot of time being miserable and in the process breaking dishes...." I learned to love the sound of dishes, and love they way the cabinets look when I open them and they are neatly stacked up!

I told them they had two choices, the were going to love it, get it done and move on, or take their time, moan, groan and pout, then get it done, groan and pout some more, and then join the rest of the team. Are we ready?

At the end of spceil, I asked them how they were feeling, all of them nodded and said good, one said "I don't like cleaning, but I am not going to complain." I praised him for his honesty and attitude, and that's all I was looking for, and we went on about our routine! These kids are awesome!

Some great conversations: We discussed breeds, breed groups/and normal breed specific behaviors. One of the campers brought with her a Dog Encyclopedia, and the kids had a great time guessing what certain breeds were bred to do and the group they belonged to, and then we referred to the book to see if we were right. This was great fun!

We broke off for our first training session with the, teaching the dogs a sit, release and shaping eye contact. The kids did wonderful, the dogs... well each had their own unique challenge... but at the end of the day, every camper had their dog sitting, while they dropped the leash, walked two steps back... waited for eye contact and then release.

After lunch we departed for our first field trip: Petland, Orange County Animal Control and SPCA of Central Florida. This was an awesome experience..... we had such great conversations, and the kids were so curious about the dogs care at Petland. They were really disappointed at seeing a Chihuhua puppy that appeared to be much less than 8 weeks of age, and its neck and both front legs were shaved. Of course, they noticed that and asked why that was the case.

We then went to Orange County and the SPCA.... before walking in, we huddled and talked about the immediate differences they see between Petland and Orange County Animal Control. They looked around, and in 2 seconds, every child observed that OCAS had an outdoor field, and they assumed that's where they let the dogs out.... sure enough they did and they got to see that. We talked about the things they may see, and reasons some of the reasons why people surrender their dogs and other reasons that dogs end up in the shelter.

The kids were sad, but they were amazed at the great dogs that were up for adoption. They all noticed that the kennels were so clean and that every dog had a bed.... see kids are so darn observant. I think finding nemo games makes them this way.... always comparing and seeing what is different!

We returned to Doglando to wrap up our day. Evening chores, last training session and then good night hugs and kisses!

No comments: