Friday, July 15, 2011

Camp Doglando Day 4

As I am driving up our road, through the chain linked fence, I see a camper already at work with her dog. She still had her back pack on her shoulders... and her focus so strong, she was clearly on a mission.

I lug my things in, and there were all of them, already cleaning the crates, putting down new bedding, refilling water and more of them, with bags still on their shoulders! Wow!

We tested each dog and handler team on the open door exercise. They were tested for keeping their dogs in a sit, while they open the door, go through the door and wait for 20 seconds. Then use of name, verbal release followed through by body cue for release and finally reward of kibble and lavish praise. There are two ratings, one for the dog and one for the handler, and these kids nailed it!

Then we go ready for a crash course on nutrition:

We had Ellen, a rep for FROMM DOG FOOD come in. Her first question to the kids was: what do you think good food or bad food will do for a dog? Their answers were: Diarrhea, hair loss, weak immune system, more energy... Wow! How do the kids know that nutrition plays a huge role in the welfare of dogs, yet many of us who buy the food continue to feed foods like Beneful, Pedigree, Alpo, Science Diet, Pro Plan, and all those other commercial grade foods. I have an idea, if you are ever in doubt just ask a kid, more than likely they will have the answer.

One of the campers asked two questions at separate times: "Is Fromm in Florida?" and "where do the apples come from?" Clearly she was trying to find out if the ingredients were imported from other countries... why would this be relevant?

Another great question was how the company advertises? Why was this relevant?

Wrapping up the nutrition talk, I told the campers that Fromm donated the food that we are using for Camp Doglando and that when the dogs get adopted the new families will be sent home with a FREE 5lb bag of Fromm as well. One of the campers spoke out loud and said "that's good advertising." Lol.

Last night, as we were wrapping up our day trying to get through the chores, one of the campers came up to me saying she had to leave, her mum was here and her mum had an appointment. We did not let her leave until her dog was cared for, water provided, clean bedding and all her stuff was cleaned up, she was quite upset.... but we did not talk about it. Today, we discussed the importance of planning ahead as part of our responsibility in caring for the animals we choose to help/keep/care for.
We used real life examples such as:

1. Training: People often call for help with their dogs when the problem has become the worst and expect a quick fix. We shared a phone consult example that we had yesterday, from a lady who has a 4 year old beagle that she deemed aggressive. Her two year old child, who she admitted "has been very curious about the dog," bit the dog's ear... the dog turned around and bit the child on the left side of his face. She was calling us for help with the expectation that it would only take a couple of visits. While I am on this subject, I will tell you more...

She said "well how much is that going to cost?" I said, "well I can tell you something at no cost to you, and that is if you supervise your child more closely, this would be unlikely to occur, but we certainly can help with some of the other issues you are having with your dog." The kids felt the same way of course, but the point was that people often look for help after allowing the problem to persist, rather than taking a proactive approach and preventing issues from arising. This would be planning ahead.

2. Boarding: Here we used the example of pet parents calling for boarding especially during holidays, one or two days before the holiday itself. We get this a lot. This past holiday.... for the 4th, we had calls leading all the way up to the day of, from pet parents looking for boarding. People plan their vacations way in advance, however seem to forget they have to plan care for their pets as well. Many then result to their neighbours, or teenage kids to care for their dogs, and you will be surprise how many times we have received calls from pet parents while away on vacation panicking because their dogs were not getting cared for.

3. Grooming: Another seasonal thing... we get tons of calls right before the holidays, from people who do not regularly get their dogs groomed, but because they have family in town, they need their dogs groomed right away. These dogs typically are severely matted, and very poorly behaved.

The kids were itching to go play with the daycare dogs, so we did that before lunch and then after lunch went on a walk down to Colonial. The heat was unbearable, so we turned around and surprised the kids to their first time at swimming with the dogs. They had a blast, as expected!

Each camper except for the one with the Lab, had to teach their puppies to like the water and enjoy swimming. For some, we have a lot more work, others picked it up right away. By next Friday, they will all be great swimmers.

The drying part was also a learning experience for both kids and dogs. We had one dog in particular that threw a lovely temper tantrum because he did not want to get dried off. His camper handler felt "sad" initially until he understood why we needed to work with the dog to help him overcome his dislike. I used the example of a child in a shopping cart at a checkout line in Publix, who started screaming and hollering because his mum said he could not have the candy. In the end, him mum gave in because she was embarrassed... and before I even finished, the kids started laughing.... so I said "what happens next?"
"He does it every time now!" said the campers! Yay!!!!!!!!!!

We ended our day with our first training session in the shop. Waiting for the daycare dogs to get picked up while the campers' dogs remained in a sit and wait. For so many dogs and people in our small shop, they ended their day with great success.

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