Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Camp

This year marked our eighth year of taking the dogs to DSA camp for a week in July. It has become a fun tradition, where we get to spend several days visiting with old friends, making new friends, and just training and spending time with our dogs. Every year is a bit different - some years we are focused on participating in all the new activities and training opportunities, sometimes we work on our own training goals, and other times we just spend time hiking in the woods and swimming at the lake with the dogs.

This year, we mostly did our own thing as far as training. Lowell spent a lot of time working on Susan Garrett's Crate Games with Maebe, Tristan and Jade. We did some agility work with the adults, and got an introduction to competition obedience with Tristan and Django one evening. It seems clear that obedience may be a great activity for Tristan when he can no longer compete in agility. He loves the rules and structure of it and loves heeling. I think he would really enjoy Rally-O one day.

It was a great week for Cadence, filled with new experiences and people and dogs. Our campsite neighbor had a new Lab puppy, Indi, who was born on the same day as Cade. They became fast friends, and would start up an impromptu wrestling match at every possible opportunity.

Cadence also became a "Pup Scout." To do so, he had to pass a little temperament/obedience test. He had to demonstrate that he knew sit, down, and come, he had to show that he could interact with other dogs appropriately, that he could be handled by other people, that he would accept grooming and body handling, and that he could remain calm when I left him alone with a new person. He passed with flying colors. I thought about testing him to become a full "Scout", but wanted to wait until his heeling, "leave its," and stays are more reliable. They are coming along nicely, and if I got him in the right moment we might have passed, but I didn't see the need to rush it.

I also learned what Cadence's nutty Border Collie obsession is: water. His brain just switched into another place at the beach. All my dogs are devoted water dogs and love nothing more than to swim, but even our Lab took a bit longer to become crazy about the water than our little noodle did. Apparently he is fascinated by splashing. He started making splashes with his front paws, then snapping at the spray, and would continue farther and farther until before he knew it, he was swimming. Snapping at the water all the way. It was a bit crazy, and rather lacking in form, but he made up for it in enthusiasm.

Maebe got to try Puissance Jumping, and easily cleared 36 inches - over twice her shoulder height. She also accompanied her dad on the overnight backpacking trip that he led this year, and somehow managed to not be completely eaten alive by mosquitoes. I think it was close though. Apparently she was not terribly pleased with the tent accomodations in the woods at first, until she discovered one of the other campers had brought along a tennis ball and all was well with the world again. She also got to flirt with Brutus, a 130-pound Rott(?) mix, who is the gentlest giant you'd ever want to meet. They make quite a pair. Still, when she returned to the camper the next morning, she curled up on my pillow immediately to tell me all about the hardships she endured for the previous 12 hours in the woods. She is forever the princess.

All the dogs did a ton of swimming, running, hiking, and playing and we all had a great time. We returned home exhausted from all the revelry (and especially from the late-night campfires that Lowell would tend - we had quite a fun and raucous group of fire-goers this year). Already looking forward to camp number nine in 2010!

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