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It started when two canine scientists decide to become pen pals in an era of digital media...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Camp Unleashed: Heaven on earth for dogs?

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Hi Mia!
How fun following you on Facebook and Twitter answering student science questions for "I'm a Scientist. Get Me Out Of Here!" A zombie apocalypse should not be taken lightly, and we must consider how to prepare. And glad someone asked why dogs eat grass. That question makes a bit more, um, sense ;)

A Special Place for Dogs
We’ve all heard of the Rainbow Bridge, a mythical land where pets go when they pass away to hopefully meet again with their owners. While I don’t know whether that exists, I do know that if there’s a Heaven on earth for dogs, it's probably Camp Unleashed (Facebook/Twitter).

Annie Brody founded Camp Unleashed in 2004 “on the premise that dogs need a vacation from the human world — a place where they can be off-leash, safe, and in a pack with other dogs in their own natural environment.”

The four-day retreats offers activities and experiences for dogs and their people alike that highlight seeing the world from the dog’s point of view. The two camp locations, one in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts and the other in Asheville, North Carolina, offer a wide range of activities depending on the session: agility, canine cognitive games, canoeing and water sports (for all), clicker training, off-leash hikes, and scent games, to name a few.

The idea is simple: both dogs and their people need a taste of life off the leash. For many, it is often the first time they’ve experienced this possibility, and from what I hear, it’s very eye-opening! For example:

"Camp Unleashed allows me to bond with my dog in a way I can nowhere else. My dog is allowed to be himself, with a joy and a freedom that I cannot offer him in the real world. I find that I relax more too, being around like-minded people and tapping into dog-like qualities--living in the moment, enjoying nature, taking pleasure in my surroundings and just letting go."
-- Elizabeth Bermel, Ossining, NY 2011 Berkshires




Brody also hosts an online radio show called The Dog Connection. Recently, Alexandra Horowitz and I joined her on the air to talk dogs.
Julie interview: The science behind dogs and the dog-human relationship
Alexandra Horowitz interview:
What’s it like to be a dog?

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And now for the exciting news: this weekend, I get to go to Camp Unleashed! I’m giving the Saturday night lecture at Camp Unleashed in the Berkshires titled, What Can Canine Cognition Research Do for You? Get Into the Head of the Dog in Your Bed, and You'll Both Be Happier. And of course, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the camp in action.

This will be the first time I give a talk to an audience that’s equal parts dog and human! I’m interested to see how the dog members of the audience respond to the audience-participation parts of the presentation. Usually, I invite one person and one dog up on stage to demonstrate a study. This time around, I imagine a few more four-legged audience members might volunteer to participate! And I assume they’ll be better than their people at guessing the meaning behind the barks and growls ;) 


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And now back to you! The Working Dog Alliance website looks A M A Z I N G! As I mentioned on Facebook, the Research and Legislation links are where it's at. Of course, looking forward to hearing more about the upcoming Australian Working Dog Conference Nov. 4-5 in Sydney. Good stuff!

Julie