My, it’s been awhile since I’ve written! Things have been super-busy around here, what with my day-job picking up (winter is a busy season), family and friends, and getting a second job as a dog trainer. I’ve finally nearly completed my dog-trainer-training (no mean feat considering it’s nearly 100 hours) and am probably going to start teaching classes next week.
However, I neglected to write about going to Camp Unleashed, which has been eating away at me for months, so without further ado, I’d like to right that.
I find it hard to describe it, and you know, it’s actually kind of depressing that I have to wait until September to go back! I have to admit, having gone to summer camps and such as a kid, I had kind of thought that it would be fun, but not the with-friends kind of fun that always makes for a great time (being inherently shy, I brought a couple of books just in case). I thought Bean would enjoy running around, but I still wasn’t sure if I could let her off the leash. It required a huge leap of faith on my part…
I couldn’t be more wrong. First, I met four absolutely wonderful ladies. There was my cabin-mate, Owen, and her darling Chloe. Owen and Chloe were the (very deserving) winners of the Camp Unleashed contest. We met Maria, Julie and Stacy at meals, and the five of us ended up hanging out together quite a lot. In fact, we plan to get a reunion together this coming fall, and I’m sincerely hoping everyone can make it, because they are all awesome ladies with incredible dogs, and we had a blast.
Beyond a lasting friendship, hanging out with people who are as obsessed with their dogs as I am was beyond wonderful. Barks and Crafts with Colette, Freestyle, long long walks in the mountains, introductory dog swimming lessons, canine massage, nature walks, puppy playtimes, agility… I am utterly serious when I say it was a dream vacation for a dog lover. I mean, look at this:
This was Bean’s face the whole weekend:
Owen’s dog, Chloe, and Bean got along pretty well. They had some sort of doggy girlfriend thing going on the whole time.
This picture cracks me up every time:
One of the best things about camp was having acres and acres and acres to play on with the dogs. Nothing but woods and wide-open fields, plenty of room for even the biggest dogs to stretch their legs:
Bean responding to her whistle recall:
Lots of agility equipment to play on almost at will:
One night, there was a talent show for anyone who wanted to participate. There was a group of dancing golden retrievers, a fly ball champion, Maria’s talking dog (they had an EXTREMELY hilarious ‘conversation’ that I got partially on video but you can’t hear much of the dialogue), and Dr. Kay’s ‘magical reading dog’:
One night, they held a campfire and I was asked to read the story about Bean that I wrote that won the blog contest. I guess that though I’d given it thought and even a few tears, having to put my love and gratitude for Bean into words was completely overwhelming. I pretty much cried through the whole thing, because I am weak and also because I love my dog and probably developed a sudden fear of public speaking. But it was good anyway, even though I was embarrassed.
The main thing about Camp Unleashed was really finding the bond between Bean and I was stronger than I thought it was, and being able to trust her. That I could let her off leash and have her running around, playing, sniffing and peeing on everything she could was an awesome feeling. After a traumatic experience with a previous dog taking off into the great unknown in a thunderstorm, it was a pretty big deal to be able to do that and trust her to come back.
The best part about camp, outside of the great people and dogs and the beautiful area and the lake and the fun and the crafts and the activities was definitely Julie and Maria’s idea to take a night-hike around a small lake. We took our dogs and some flashlights and took a trail around the lake in the dark. It was a beautiful, clear night with no moon so we could see all the stars, and the dogs ran around sniffing after all the invisible things in the dark.
If you love your dog and you want to take a vacation where they are included and even celebrated, I cannot recommend these camps enough. The staff was wonderful. The activities were 100% fun (including things like dock-diving, tracking, fly ball, canoeing… pretty much anything that you can think of that includes dogs), although it was really, really nice just to chill by the lake with Bean in the sun sometimes, too. Some people just spent the whole time chilling by the lake or walking their dogs in the mountains, coming in for meals and evenings by the campfire.
Anyway, I cannot WAIT to go back next fall. I’ve already signed up and I’m counting the days!
Some more pictures:
For about a billion other photos, check out my Flickr page!
Also, a huge thank-you to Camp Unleashed, Annie Brody, Dr. Kay and everyone who helped send Bean and I to Camp Unleashed. It was a completely amazing experience with Bean, and I hope to see you all again this year!