Not every dog born in a Missouri puppy mill is fortunate enough to find
herself vacationing at a luxurious dog camp. But Greta Irene, the Miniature
Dachshund owned by Rebecca A. Elliott, a Public Affairs Specialist, did just
that. Rebecca rescued Greta at a young age knowing her background and
proceeded to make up for Greta’s rough start in life.
Recently, Rebecca and Greta enjoyed a dream vacation at a specialized dog
camp in New England. In addition to delicious food, comfortable accommodations,
and a spectacular mountain backdrop, Rebecca and Greta tried
all kinds of dog-related activities including classes, workshops, demonstrations,
and lectures. Classes included obedience, rally, the AKC Canine
Good Citizenship Program, agility, lure coursing, and tracking. Other
pastimes included leash-making, spinning dog hair, and animal communication,
as well as lectures on nutrition and shelter work.
Many of the classes are based on competitive events held by the American
Kennel Club (AKC). According to the AKC, obedience, the foundation for
any competitive event, requires that a dog “follow specified routines…and
demonstrate willingness and enjoyment while it is working.” Lower level
obedience allows voice commands, but upper level classes require hand
signals often from the other side of a fifty foot ring.
Rally, a recent derivative of obedience, is a sport where the dog follows a
course with signs each of which indicates a particular skill to be performed.
It is a timed event. Unlike traditional obedience, multiple commands may be
given and perfection is not required.
The AKC describes its Canine Good Citizenship Program as being
“designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in the
community.” Dogs who successfully complete the 10-step test receive a
One of the fastest growing dog sports is agility, which the AKC refers to as
“the ultimate game…[where] a dog demonstrates its agile nature and versatility
by following cues from the handler through a timed obstacle course
of jumps, tunnels, weave poles and other objects.” The goal is to complete
the course with the fastest time without missing any objects. Multiple voice
and hand signals may be given.
One of the lesser known dog sports is lure coursing which the AKC
describes as “artificial simulations of live game or open field coursing.”
Lure coursing is a noncompetitive event where dogs chase an artificial lure
that is mechanically moved at a high speed in an open area to simulate real
prey. The tests are on a pass or fail basis.
Another little known dog activity is tracking. The AKC requires a dog to
“follow the track and either clearly indicate or retrieve an article” or articles
in more advanced levels. Certain voice and hand signals are permitted, but
the handler may not indicate the location of the track or article. Tracking
tests are also on a pass or fail basis.
The leash-making workshop was timely as the latest thing among those
who compete with dogs is braided kangaroo leather leashes referred to as
leads. The kangaroo leather is dyed or painted in all kinds of colors and
may be complemented by a multitude of beads in various sizes, shapes,
and colors. As for lectures, Rebecca, who home cooks for Greta, could have
given the one on rescue dogs or nutrition herself using Greta as Exhibit A.
Rebecca and Greta returned home determined to title in several dog sports
by this time next year. Rebecca has already registered for dog camp with
Greta next year.
Elizabeth M. Jarrell