Monday, June 27, 2011

Gilda Goes to Dog Camp!

Gilda and I are home from Dog Camp and what an experience it was! Before I agreed to be camp nurse, I read the following description and thought, "I can do this!":

In March ’07 we began renovating the cabins, tearing out old kitchens and installing brand new cabinets and appliances. We purchased all new bedding, with high profile cushy mattresses and high thread count linens. The cabins were scrubbed, and stairs were built to lofts to accommodate campers with dogs and suitcases. We continued to refer to these as “rustic cabins,” but they’re really not that rustic — now we refer to them as cottages.
When I arrived at the facility however, I found myself in a state of shock! At my current age, I no longer enjoy "rustic". I do not have wash-n-go hair, I can deal without A/C for no longer than 2 minutes per day, I suffer from a very real case of arachnophobia and I utterly adore sanitation especially in kitchens and bathrooms . 
The A/C it turned out, was a window unit in the "loft" area that we wouldn't really be using since there would be 10 humans and 11 dogs packed into our 800 sq. foot cabin! 
It was 90+ degrees, sunny, and 100% humidity when we arrived. My painstakingly straightened hair immediately reverted to puff and frizz, I was hot and sweaty and there wasn't a thing I could do but be thankful that there were no spiders to
be seen and just go with the flow!  I already knew that the dogs wouldn't care what my hair looks like and I soon discovered that teenagers don't either!
With all of that being said, it is the perfect place for the Ohio 4H Teen Dog Experience to have their camp. Where else will you find a place accommodating enough to allow 14 teens to bring their dogs for 4 days with full use of the incredible Agility building? The campers love it there and are very respectful, cleaning up after their dogs, staying in designated areas with their partners and helping with cleaning duties in the cabins. (When they weren't busy pulling pranks on each other at least).

{Rustic "Red" Cabin}
{Rival "Blue" Cabin}

Once my initial panic wore off, the campers arrived, and the weather cooled considerably. I felt much better about my new rustic experience! While the campers got organized, I took Gilda up the mountain-of-a-hill to the agility building. She was apprehensive with new surroundings and equipment but was willing to work a little.  We used our multiple daily hikes up and down the hill to work on loose-leash walking.

Later, when the campers and their dogs went to the building, I took Gilda up to watch. All was well until the Teeter (which was all the way at the other end of the huge building) came into play at which point, she shot into the back most corner of a kennel and stayed there.  I was eventually able to convince her to relax out in the open while the campers and their dogs worked.
{Out of the crate!}

It was truly amazing to watch the teen campers and their dogs. Each and every camper had fantastic handling skills and all of the dogs were happy to work . It was really remarkable to see. 
For Agility classes, the campers were put into groups based on their skill levels and they rotated through stations performing exercises based on level and need.
Gilda and I did our best to stay out of the way so we missed most of the activities. The campers had lots of active class time with their dogs covering Agility, Obedience, Tracking, Rally O, and flyball. Other classes included grooming, husbandry, tugging, judging, first aid and 4H book work. They also had lots of craft activities including making a pivot box, a TAGulator, a treat dispenser, and a tug toy. After the last dinner, the campers had a hilarious blindfolded cake decorating activity which was designed to demonstrate the importance of clear and concise communication.

{Agility Building}

Gilda and I spent our free time trudging up the hill (I should say I was trudging, she was prancing along as she always does) to do short agility sessions. Most of the Jumps there were Winged Jumps and it took some coaxing to get her to jump. The Pause Table was covered in a stiff carpet and it took sheer determination to get Gilda to get on it let alone perform a Down! She was eager and willing to do the tunnels, Dogwalk and A-Frame (as long as no one else was in the building!) so we used those as our short, successful sequences.

{Lower hill}
Sometimes we'd climb the hill only to walk straight through the building doing shadow handling skills to the outdoor field. Once outside, I'd throw the ball a few times and then let her explore the outdoor fenced agility area. Other times we'd play fetch in the empty agility building with the ball bouncing off of the equipment including the terrifying Teeter in an effort to get her to interact with the equipment. It seemed to work as she happily chased the ball and brought it back.

{Gilda waits for the 'Fetch' cue}

Once we went to the building after the campers had been working on Flyball exercises and the equipment was set up with a Curved Tunnel at one end and 4 low Jumps in a straight line. I was able to get Gilda to enthusiastically take the Tunnel, 4 Jumps, turn around, and take 4 Jumps to the Tunnel. She seemed to particularly like this set up. 

We also spent time using Peanut Butter for some much needed recall work. I would randomly call Gilda to me for her favorite reward. Just when I thought we were getting back to great recalls, she would start to come, sniff, turn around, and we were right back to where we started!

Dog Camp was a great experience for both of us and I've made some invaluable dog friend connections! The directors: Abigail, Karin, Kristen, and Megan (all the way from WI!) are amazing young women who spend months on lesson plans, raising donations, activity and meal planning, and lots of shopping, followed by days of leading, teaching, cooking, and cleaning to make this all happen. They are all bright, upbeat, positive people that speak often of their love for "their campers"! I am amazed that they devote so much time and energy to such a great cause.  Also brilliant is their Teen Counselor program which I believe will prepare some campers to transition to the counselor role. How genius is that?!

Not only did the directors have a fabulous gift bag for me when we got there, but the campers also presented me with a bag full of dog toys and games! Thank you from Gilda & I to the campers:

Bree (Scotty, Sheltie)
Cassy (Chiquita, Rat Terrier)
Gabby (Ozzy, Australian Shepherd)
Hannah (Wesley, Black Lab)
Helen (Maddie, Border Collie)
Josie (Shadow, Weimaraner)
Katie (Chase, Border Collie)
Laura (Cleopatra, German Shepherd)
Megan (Jake, Australian Shepherd)
Melissa (Rogan, Australian Shepherd)
Myranda (Duke, Lab Mix)
Rachel O. (Bandit, Golden Retriever)
Rachel P. (Java, Australian Shepherd)
Rachelle (Sander, Border Collie Mix)

{Rachel P. & Java Bean}
{Director Megan (seated)
Rachelle & Sander}

{Helen & Maddie}

{Josie & Shadow}

{Laura & Cleopatra}

{Katie & Chase}

{Hannah & Wesley}

{Melissa & Rogan}
{Rachel O. & Bandit}

{Myranda & Duke}

{Megan & Jake (center)}

{Gabby & Ozzy}

{Chiquita without Cassy!}

{Bree & Scotty (center)}

{Cassy (Chiquita's handler) Left}


gotspots said...

Lol, the whole 'rustic' thing doesn't sound fun to me either. Lol But I'm glad you had a great time. It sounds like a wonderful mini vacation with your dog (even if you had to be the nurse) lol

Megan said...

I need to read more of your blog, but I wanted to take a minute to say how much we appreciated having you there (despite BLUE CABIN getting frosting on the car and you keeping that secret)! :)

Gilda is adorable, and I hope she's adjusting to her new housemate well!


Laura said...

Thank you for being our camp nurse! I was curious what you and Gilda did while we were shaping or doing crafts. Maybe we will see you next year!

Laura and Cleopatra

Helen said...

Thanks for being our nurse it was really nice meeting you and Gilda is soo sweet :)