Text Size

A Dog Gone Good Vacation
Greta displays her coursing skills.> View larger image
Greta displays her coursing skills. Credit: Steve Surfman
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.

Greta is put through her paces> View larger image
Greta gets put through her paces. Credit: Steve Surfman
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 certificate.

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