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Unleash your Inner Dog

3-Doodles play at Camp Unleashed

A few months back, I was asked by Camp Unleashed founder Annie Brody if I would consider being the local director of the first Camp Unleashed on the West Coast. I knew of Annie’s work for years and of her passion to help provide a safe place in nature for dogs to be off leash, in a pack, with other social dogs, while bonding with their people. For eight years, she had been doing that on the East Coast in the Berkshires (MA), and had recently opened her second location in Asheville, NC. Now she was wanting to come west.

When Annie originally asked me, I had just made a huge change in my life by selling the music school I owned for 14 years. That decision was inspired by my desire to devote my time to improving the lives of dogs and their people through my co-founded Through a Dog’s Ear business. I was hesitant to add another new thing to my life, when I was trying to clear the space for my work with Through a Dog’s Ear.

When making major life decisions, I often spend quiet time looking at my image board. It’s a compilation of all of my dreams, aspirations, hopes, visions, and desires that I created at the start of 2011. When I looked at it, I read the words:

“Living with Dogs”

“Talk to the Animals”

“Responsible Dog Ownership”

“And people who love dogs almost as much as dogs love people”

How could I read those words and possibly say no to being the director of a new Camp Unleashed? It was still fulfilling my mission of improving the lives of dogs and their people, just in an expanded way.

A few months have passed and I’ve so enjoyed choosing the faculty and staff for camp. It’s been delightful being able to bring on board so many fabulous instructors that I’ve already worked with in some capacity, whether it be a group dog sport related class, private training sessions, or people who have given fabulous presentations that I attended.

When I first adopted Gina, I had some private clicker training sessions with Marissa Martino, the Behavior and Training Manager of the East Bay SPCA. She helped us learn loose leash walking. Marissa is in training for Off Leash Behavior Director at Camp Sequoia and will be speaking on “Dynamics of Dog Play” and “Understanding Canine Body Language”.

Nancy Campanile is one of the agility instructors at ACE Dog Sports, where I train. Every class of Nancy’s is fun and playful, while still being educational and informative. Nancy has the rare ability to help you laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, while still inspiring a bonding experience for you and your dog. I am thrilled to have her as the Camp Sequoia agility instructor.

Roy posing on a fire hydrant

Dianne Panarella CTC has been a fellow agility classmate of mine for a few years. I started with Sanchez and she with Truman, and now we are in class with our younger dogs – Gina and Roy. What a pleasure it is to see her interact with her dogs. She’s always so positive, happy, funny, and engaging so it’s no surprise that dogs react to her in kind. Dianne will be teaching Intro to Treibball at Camp Unleashed, in addition to a class called “Canine Household Chores”. OK, your dog may not be vacuuming any time soon, but she just might be mopping the floors and picking up things that you drop before you know it. And based on the picture of Roy on the fire hydrant, I’m wondering if she should add a class called “10 Best Uses of a Fire Hydrant for Dogs!”

Sanchez and I learned musical canine freestyle from Ruthanna Levy. Coming from a background of both dance and positive reinforcement dog training, she is the perfect freestyle teacher. Her ability to help students choreograph music that is fitting for both the person and the dog is beyond measure. She’ll be a great addition to Camp Sequoia, both as a freestyle instructor and clicks & tricks teacher.  And I’m hoping Ziggy will make an appearance with her on closing night at American Dog Idol.

I first heard Heather Sanders present on canine nutrition and massage about a year ago. I knew she’d be the perfect person to bring on board to speak about a variety of canine holistic therapies. But, I didn’t realize that she offers so many classes and seminars that it would be hard to choose. So far, she is scheduled to teach Doga, a canine acupressure clinic, canine nutrition, and she’ll also be holding private canine massage sessions. Stay tuned to see if she’ll also be teaching scent games, yet another skill of hers, from her Search & Rescue volunteer work.

Earlier today, Dogster’s blogger, Maria Goodavage, posted a blog on a Camp Unleashed contest. Entrants have until August 1st to post a comment on the Dogster blog stating why they and their dog deserve to win the prize of a full scholarship (travel not included) to the camp of their choice – in Massachusetts, North Carolina, or California. It’s heart-warming reading all of the comments and, as a contest judge, it’s going to be extremely challenging choosing a winner.

Can you help me decide? Any comments on the Dogster blog that particularly stand out to you? Or maybe you want to win the contest? Post your comment on Dogster, and then come back here and tell me why you feel you and your dog should be chosen as the lucky winner.

Good luck! I’m not sure who will be happier, the human or canine winner!

As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.