Rufus and my 2016 dog camp trip to Camp Unleashed has come and gone now. *sob* Like last year, it was a deliriously wonderful weekend. There was one tiny blip where I almost let a not-so-nice woman and her not-so-social dog ruin the weekend, but after a little pouting and venting I got it together and decided she wouldn’t prevent us from enjoying our favorite weekend of the year! It also helped tremendously that the instructors and behaviorist and camp staff are just so fabulous.
So here’s a little rundown on what we did this year. Yappy Hour continues to be a favorite of Rufus’, so I make sure I drag my bones out of the bunk each morning and take him to the field to romp with the other dogs. And he earned the nickname of “Yappy Hour Ambassador” because he would run over to greet each new arrival and then speed back to continue playing.
This year there were sessions on scent-type activities: indoor and outdoor, tracking, finding personal belongings–anyone need to train their dogs to find their car keys? We attended a lecture session on how your dog smells the world, but most of the other classes were 2 activity sessions long, so we opted to go with other classes.
One of those other classes was Parkour for Dogs. Have you seen Parkour for humans? It’s similar. The dogs are trained to jump on, bounce off of, go through or under all kinds of obstacles that occur in the everyday environment. Rufus had no trouble with the jumping ON obstacles. Going through and under took much more enticement.
We also learned…or rather started learning…flyball. This is a relay race with dogs. If you’ve never seen it, the dogs run over four hurdles, pop on a box that discharges a ball. They have to grab the ball and run back over the hurdles. Rufus has the hurdles down from agilities, but we have to work on his interest in the ball. He didn’t want to pick it up and take it back with him. Our instructor, Kathy Nieves show us some ways we can practice and hopefully get Rufus more interested in the ball. The turn on the box is a process too, but he was starting off pretty well. We’ll definitely try more with that in the future.
Another new class we tried this year was Tricks. Rufus does a lot of obedience type things, but I haven’t worked with him much on tricks. So we really enjoyed this class. He learned (or rather relearned) to bow. And we started working on sit pretty. So we’ll practice more with both of these now that we have some idea of how to approach them.
Our must-do-again events included Freestyle for Dogs, of course! Here we started learning to march and “backup.” We’ll be working on those more. We also took several of the regular moves that we already know and combined them, which looked great. I also discovered that before I had only asked Rufus to do weaves when I was walking forward, so when I wanted him to do more of a figure eight weave, he was unsure how to do the back half. We have to practice that some more, too. This really is the highlight of my camp. I’ve so enjoyed learning this. I don’t dance except with my dog. Jenn Michaelis can work miracles!
We couldn’t miss out on the mindfulness hike. I just love walking through the woods with Rufus, and him being off leash, allowed to explore, sniff, run and just be a dog. All his happy signals are on full power during these walks.
And for me, I had to partake in the photography class again. This year we had a fun dress-up activity coordinated by Chelly Campbell. I thought it was great fun; Rufus might tell you a different story. But the class was in the last session of the day, so Ru was pretty tired and didn’t fight the dress-up too much, and we got some cool pictures.
Rufus spent time each day in the lake, of course. We still didn’t manage to do a canoe ride, though. We had a chance to attend a fascinating session called “Doglish” on how your dog communicates. Plus, this was a very nice addition this year: my roomies, Kat and Pippa, and I spent time at our cabin chatting, playing a cool domino game called Mexican Train and watching Arrested Development. They had some episodes on the iPad and insisted I had to be introduced to the show. My introverted self appreciated this time very much.
Once again we left exhausted and wonderfully happy! As I’ve said before, I can’t recommend dog camp enough. We save to go; it’s not a cheap getaway, but it’s worth every penny.