Wednesday, July 20, 2011

DSA Camp 2011

django camp Last week marked our tenth year in a row of attending Dog Scout Camp in St. Helen, MI in July.  As always, it was a wonderful week spent with our dogs and with good friends.  We had the opportunity to do a lot of good training with the dogs, and to just relax and enjoy ourselves while hiking the trails or sitting around the campfire.



Cadence made me very proud this week, showing me just how much he Cade hiking has learned and matured over the last year.  After all our work on recalls, I finally took a leap of faith and let him off leash on our morning runs and hikes.  He amazed me by staying basically by my side the entire time.  He would run up ahead with Django and Maebe occasionally, but always came back to check in, and always waited and came back to me when I asked him to. 

We also worked a lot on recalls and stays at the beach.  Swimming is unbelievably reinforcing for him, so I used the Premack Principle quite a bit – if he came out when I asked, he could get back in and swim some more.  I am still doing most of this work on a long line, but I did test it off-leash a couple times and he did come out of deep water when I called.  This was a drastic difference from last year, when he was oblivious to everything once near the water. 

cade DW He also got to play agility, rally-o, and “agilure” (lure coursing with some low jumps and tunnels).  He did great, was very focused and had a very good time.  At the end of the week, he had earned three agility badges, the beginning Rally badge, Agilure, Hiking, Beach Buddies, and Fine Art of Shaping badges.  He also finished a 10-mile hike for his next Pack Dog title. 

jade rally The four older dogs continued to make us proud also.  Maebe got her Hiking and Beach Buddies badges, Django got Advanced Rally, Tristan got Boating Safety, and even Jade, less than two weeks post-op, got his Advanced Rally badge.  Doing the Rally course with my older guy was one of the highpoints of the entire week.



 T hikingSome of my favorite times at camp though are spent just quietly hiking the trails or sitting by the campfire.  We figure we must have hiked the main trail at camp hundreds of times over the years, and it always brings us joy to watch the dogs happily bounding up the trail then back to us, having the time of their lives.  After Tristan’s long spring of injuries and Jade’s ordeal with laryngeal paralysis, we were especially delighted to have the two of them with us on our hikes again.

Oh, and Cadence made a lot of new lady friends.  For some reason, the girls do seem to like him.  I don’t think his ego really needs quite so much encouragement, but it is pretty cute to watch them flirt!  My favorite was watching him play with a tiny Pom who was smitten with him:


 saige2 saige3 saige4 saige5

In addition to time spent with the dogs, I am always grateful for the opportunity to spend time with friends and to make new ones.  I am always amazed by the displays of generosity and kindness that I encounter at camp, and this year was especially noteworthy in that respect.  It is amazing how when we focus on noticing and rewarding positive behavior, how contagious that is, and how it not only affects our interactions with our dogs but with other people as well. 

All in all, it was a perfect week, and we already can’t wait until next year.wet maebe

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