Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

What Your Dog REALLY Wants for the Holidays

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

The holidays are a wonderful time for letting your loved ones know how special they are to you — through loving words and warm wishes, music, cards, shared meals and rituals, holiday parties and sometime gift giving.

And if you’re like most of us, your four-legged best friend is on (perhaps even at the top of) your holiday shopping list. But what do you get for that special canine in your life?

In honor of the holidays, Canine Camp Getaway’s ambassadogs share their suggestions below:

JESSIE

Every Christmas, my Mom and I settle under the tree together where she has all these wonderful wrapped packages for me and my sister. We sit together and she tells me how much she loves me and rubs my ears while I sniff them all and tear off the wrapping paper. Mom has exceptional taste (she picked me out, didn’t she?), and there are always so many wonderful presents…Cuz toys just begging to have the feet chewed off, Kongs, braided bully sticks, super soft blankets and once even a stuffed octopus with 12, count ‘em 12 squeakers! Good stuff!

But here’s a secret even my Mom doesn’t know: If there were no gifts at all, I would still be perfectly happy just to sit under the tree with her while she talks to me and rubs my ears. Because the best part isn’t the stuff, it’s the two of us, being together…11 years of being best friends. Kisses and long walks and BBQs and cuddles in bed, dog friends and games of ball and agility classes and the time I got hurt and Mom slept on an air mattress on the floor for three weeks so we could be together without me jumping.

So I think — and I’ve talked this over with other dogs and we all agree — if you’re looking for the perfect present for your canine buddy, forget the stores. What your dog really wants, and what your dog will cherish most, is time with YOU.

Now as Senior Ambassadog, I can tell you that Canine Camp Getaway is a GREAT way to give your dog (and you!) some special bonding time. Because honestly, humans are always distracted….we go for a walk together, and you don’t even notice the amazing smells, you’re so intent on getting there, you miss the best parts…and we know you have to work to pay for the kibble, but it would be better if you were throwing a ball for us or rubbing our bellies wholeheartedly instead of doing it with one eye on the computer.

But at Canine Camp Getaway, all of that fades away, and we can both be together, living in the moment, where the moment is all about US. Swimming, doing agility together, hiking those amazing trails, learning flyball, playing games and just hanging out together all day. What could be better than that?

So I think the perfect holiday gift for your dog would be for both of you to sign up for Canine Camp Getaway in 2013.

But what if you can’t make it to camp, what do you get your dogs then? The answer is still — time together. Trust me, I’m not the older, wiser ambassadog by accident; I’ve seen many holidays, and met thousands of dogs, and I can tell you that time is the most precious thing you can give us.

So for the holidays, make a commitment to take us for regular walks…and not just those five-minute walks where you rush us to potty and don’t let us sniff anything. Take us for a walk and walk WITH us, enjoy the walk through our eyes and noses. Let us run part of the way, stop and sniff part of the way, meet the other (friendly) dogs along the route.

Make a commitment to take us to the park to play ball, or Frisbee. Sign us up for an agility class. Play in the snow with us, or when it gets warm, take us to a doggie beach, and come in the water with us!

Get up five minutes early to give us a nice long belly rub one day. Cook us a terrific, healthy meal. Take a class in canine massage so you’ll be able to help us feel better when we get older.

For the holidays this year, give us the best gift ever…YOU. It’s what we’ll remember most when we’re old and gray, and we will always cherish that time together.

(Though if you find that octopus with the 12 squeakers, feel free to pick that up, too!)

LEXIE

I LOVE holidays! And holidays are a great time to get your dog TOYS! I l LOVE toys! Especially toys that are BALLS! Squeaky balls, and tennis balls, and those big, soft rubber balls with the cut outs that you can sink your teeth into…and speaking of things you can sink your teeth into, those soft boots with rubber soles, those are pretty fun too. Also stuffies with squeakers, and if you have two dogs, you should buy extra stuffies for your other dog, because it’s more fun to unstuff their toys first, it makes yours last longer.

And I always tell my Mom a big swimming pool would be great, but she says no swimming in winter. But in summer, you can swim because there’s camp and I especially love swimming at camp because I can play BALL in the WATER with all my FRIENDS!! You can too! So camp is a great gift, especially the swimming part, and the lure coursing part (because you can chase stuff without getting in trouble and no one yells, “Leave the cat, LEAVE the CAT, LEAVETHECATALONE!!!”). And the hikes are pretty awesome, and sometimes there are tennis balls around for flyball and there are so many dogs to play with and…well, all the parts are pretty great, actually. And there are TWO camps this year, one in June and one in September, so you could even go TWICE!

So, as junior ambassadog, I would strongly advise you to bring your dog to Canine Camp Getaway’s June or September session because it’s a great holiday gift. And if you celebrate Christmas, you can put boots under the tree, too, Croc boots are my favorite, but anything soft and squishy is good. And if you celebrate Chanukah, you can buy eight different kinds of balls and give your dog one every day, I like the Cuz ones, and also things with squeakers, though tennis balls are also great. Or just give us the wrapping paper, that’s fun, too!

Even if you don’t get us gifts, that’s okay, because we have YOU, and you’re the BEST GIFT EVER!

Happy holidays to you and your pups, and we hope to see you next year!

P.S. If you’re coming to camp, reserve your spot soon so you’re not shut out — and don’t forget to sign up before our Early Bird Deadline so you can save more money for dog treats! Contact us if you need more info or an application!

XOXO,

Jessie & Lexie Costa

Camp Ambassadogs

Canine Camp Getaway of NY

Dog Friends, Old and New

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

This week, Canine Camp Getaway hiking and lure coursing instructor Bob Dealy is guest blogging for us about dog friends, old and new, and about the journey from “new dog” to “beloved friend.”

For ten years my beagle Duke and I were inseparable. We were best friends and a good team. Around Christmas 2010 he passed. This November I was fortunate enough to have Shadow (Black Lab mix) come into my life. She is lovable and happy and we are bonding well. The two dogs are very much alike in many ways.

My old friend Duke set the bar high for future canine companions.

I love the way the two dogs would come up with alternatives to barking by using their tails to bang against objects to get attention. They are great at socializing with people and other dogs. Both are willing and ready to take a car ride at a moment’s notice, and when I come home, they give me the best happy dance you’ve ever seen. I was charmed when I first brought Shadow home that she went right to Duke’s old toy box and started playing with the toys. Talk about a quick adjustment period! Who could be so lucky?

I’m comforted by the similarities I see in the dogs. So what is the problem?

It seems that I am very lucky to have two great dogs, and I am. Yet I sometimes find myself assigning Shadow the job of being “Duke 2.0.” She is not.

I have not allowed her the time and space to show me all the wonderful things that she can be yet. I get disappointed when Shadow shows a behavior that Duke never would (i.e. the case of the disappearing chicken breasts). But she is not he. I must learn to teach her what is expected. I can’t take for granted she knows what to do just because of the similarities. And I certainly can’t expect her to live up the expectations of an old friend she has never met.

And that is the point of this entry. In dogs, as with people, we need to give those we let into our lives the opportunity to show us what is great, unique and different about them — even when they seem so much like others we have loved.

They say it’s the journey that matters, not the destination, and that is particularly true with our four-legged friends. Getting to know a new dog is a wonderful adventure. And just as no two dogs are alike, the relationship you build with your canine buddy is utterly one of a kind.

I see great things for Shadow and me in the future. We’ll share adventures, hikes, vacations, BBQs, days out playing with friends and lazy nights in watching Yankees games. We will share many of the things I shared with Duke, and many new things that are all Shadow. She will be her own dog, and I have no doubt she’ll make a great companion.

A Love Letter to My Dogs

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Dogs are easy to love. Mine are especially lovable — even when they’re barking ferociously at the UPS guy (Jessie) or running through the house wildly swinging my pocketbook over their heads and dumping credit cards everywhere (Lexie). In fact, rarely does a day go by when I don’t discover something new to love about my dogs. It’s hard not to be charmed by their loyalty, intelligence, humor, joyfulness and sheer goodness.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share some of the many things I love about my dogs.

I love that they are always filled with joy, whether it’s a fun-filled Saturday or a dreary Monday morning; whether it’s rainy, snowy, hot and muggy or freezing out; whether we’re playing ball, going for a walk, or just lounging in bed doing nothing. They’re joyful regardless of the situation, as if it’s just a natural state of being for them. And sometimes It’s nice to be reminded that joy doesn’t need a reason.

I love that they see the possibilities in every day, and every situation. Sure, it’s hurricane conditions out there, but Mom MIGHT take us for a walk…she MIGHT drop a hot dog off the grill tonight…she MIGHT be walking into the kitchen not for a glass of water but to get us a treat…she MIGHT let us up on the living room couch, even though we’ve never ever been allowed on that couch. And although she says “Leave the cat!” so often we could practically recite it ourselves, when she opens her mouth as we’re nose poking the cat, this time she MIGHT say, “Yes, please, chase the cat, go for it!” All things are possible in a dog’s world.

There's nothing in the world better than a dog's love, except, perhaps, two dogs' love!

I love that their devotion knows no bounds; as imperfect as I am, they think I’m the best dog Mom ever. And they think that whether I’m tired and cranky, whether I’m in sweats or dressed to the nines, whether I’m playing with them or ignoring them to work on the hated laptop. Who else loves you with that level of constancy?

I love that they have a sense of family. They love each other, our cats, our friends, our friends’ dogs, and assorted parents, siblings, nieces and nephews (and their dogs), welcoming them as part of our extended “pack.”

I love their adventurous spirit. Road trip? No problem! Whether it’s their annual Canine Camp Getaway dog vacation, a day trip to check out the Pet Expo or a simple run to the grocery store with a stop off at Mom’s house, they’re always up for it.

I love their many moods and sides, love how they can be charming, serious and silly by turns, romping and playing ball one minute, barking excitedly and tackling each other, and then an hour later, be sitting quietly at (or on) my feet, sharing a contemplative moment.

I love their sense of honesty and loyalty. My dogs don’t hide who or what they are; they “say” exactly what they mean (if I’m clever enough to pay attention). And their love is equally honest, with nothing held back. They always believe the best of people, and are never petty or spiteful; they never even seem to be disappointed in me (even when they might have reason to be). There’s a purity in their interactions with humans and each other which is refreshing beyond words.

I love the wordless communication that we share; how we can read each other’s minds sometimes. It’s like a form of music, magical and powerful and beautiful.

I love the comfort of their warm, furry bodies, love the happy swishing of their tails, love the cold noses that like to flip the laptop closed when I’ve spent too much time writing and not enough time playing. And I especially love the four beautiful brown eyes that stare at me in hopeful anticipation, whether they’re waiting for a walk, a ball toss, a treat or just a pat on the head.

Most of all, though, I love that my dogs make me want to be a better human, so that I can live up to the person they believe I am right now.

If Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, then I am truly rich. For I am loved by the two best dogs on the planet!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your loved ones (be they four-legged or two-legged)!

Janice Costa is owner and founder of Canine Camp Getaway of NY, the Lake George, NY-based vacation for dogs and dog lovers. When she’s not working, playing or traveling with dogs, she works in the home design field as an author and magazine editor.

Dogs in Search of Snow!

Monday, February 6th, 2012

People from the Northeast often talk about how they’d miss the four seasons if they moved South. Personally, I don’t buy it. It’s like poor people saying they’re glad they’re not rich because being poor helps them remember what really matters in life. As if they wouldn’t prefer to be remembering what really matters in life, minus the “insufficient funds” message from the ATM machine two days before pay day. All seasons are not created equal, and summer is definitely better than winter.

Granted, I’m a summer girl; I live for beaches, kick off sandals, convertibles and the smell of chlorine. It’s no accident that my dog vacation business, Canine Camp Getaway of NY, offers an annual SUMMER vacation for dogs and their people. Seriously, I’ve never been able to fathom why anyone would look forward to winter.

Which is why it’s so ironic that, in the (happily) mildest winter we’ve had in years, I’m suddenly trying to figure out where we can go to find some snow.

But that’s what love does to you, I guess.

Dog vacation in the snow?

How did a summer-loving girl like me end up with a winter-loving dog like Jessie?

I may be a summer girl, but my beloved dogs are not; Jessie wilts in hot weather, and even the shorter-haired Lexie would much rather play roll and tackle in a giant snow drift (preferably with a few breaks to eat some snowballs) than sweat in the summer heat. Jessie may be a senior citizen in dog years, but she’s never outgrown “King of the Snow Drift” games, and rolling her little sister in a pile of the white stuff always brings out the puppy in her.

Unfortunately, they haven’t had much opportunity for snow romping this year. And with February already a week old, it’s looking less likely that it’s going to happen.

Now, logically, I know they’re not really looking at the calendar saying, “Half the winter is gone, where’s the snow?” Yet sometimes I catch them looking wistfully out the window, as if they’re waiting for a snowstorm to appear out of nowhere, blanketing the world in the shimmering white stuff and turning the backyard into a winter wonderland for dogs.

Even if they don’t know that winter is passing them by (dogs supposedly not having a sense of time, though that never explains why they know enough to start circling the food bowls like sharks an hour before dinner time), *I* know it. I’ve seen the wonder in their eyes that first winter morning when they wake up to find snow piled high in the yard. I’ve listened to the joyful yaps as they chase each other through the giant snow drifts, laughed as they’ve coaxed me out into below-freezing temperatures to share in their winter games, and played tug o’ war with the towel meant to dry them off when they finally come back inside.

And I can’t stand the thought of my dogs missing out on that. Or anything they love that much.

Even if it means packing up the car and purposefully taking them someplace (eek!) cold and snowy.

So this weekend, we’re heading north in search of snow. It may take a bit of driving, as the whole Northeast has been explicably in a warming trend. But we’re not worried. With a friend living 30 minutes out of Canada, with five acres of property and two snow-loving dogs of her own, a road trip sounds like just what the veterinarian ordered to chase away my dogs’ non-winter blues.

Do your dogs love snow? Have you ever taken them someplace on vacation just to enjoy a taste of winter? Feel free to share your comments below!

Janice Costa is owner and founder of Canine Camp Getaway of NY, the Lake George, NY-based vacation for dogs and dog lovers. When she’s not working, playing or traveling with dogs, she works in the home design field as an author and magazine editor.

Reality TV Has Gone to the Dogs

Monday, September 26th, 2011

When you run a dog vacation business, you get to go to a lot of dog events. I particularly love the fall events, because they combine four of my favorite things: dogs, the great outdoors, kettle corn, and shopping. I mean, really, what more could you ask for?

But the people who run these events must think we dog owners aren’t that easily satisfied, as they always seem to be raising the ante with everything from Search & Rescue Dog Demonstrations to celebrity Doggie Moms.

Yes, you heard me right. We’re talking about actual dog moms, just like you and me, except that they have their own TV show…

I’d heard of the show before, of course. Like “Housewives of Whatever County,” it vaguely rings a bell; my brain is filled with the names of reality shows I never watch (largely because I’d rather flip channels continuously, so I can catch glimpses of Mets baseball without the full-blown pain of watching it straight up). But suddenly, it hit me: Someone is getting PAID to sit home being a dog Mom. And it’s not ME.

Now this is just wrong. 

My whole life is dogs. I plan group dog hikes, dog birthday parties, dog holiday events. I run a dog meetup group (social group for dogs and their owners) with nearly 150 members. I teach prep classes and certify dogs for the AKC Canine Good Citizen program and the Therapy Dog program. I “Bark for Life” (a dog walk to raise money for cancer research) and run Pet Food Drives at work to support local animal shelters. I spend so much time at the dog park, my dogs could probably drive there by themselves (the little one loves to walk around the house with the car keys in her mouth, and the older one likes to sit in the driver’s seat, so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch!). 

In fact, I founded Canine Camp Getaway of NY solely to provide my dogs with a fun summer vacation where they could swim in the pool (Lexie’s favorite thing) and lure course (Jessie’s favorite thing).

So, as far as I can tell, it’s simply not possible that there are five people out there who are more qualified than I am to be on a “Doggie Moms” TV show. 

How did I not know about this when they were holding auditions? And if there are dogs with full-time, stay-at-home Moms, are my dogs being deprived, being “latchkey dogs?” 

Anyone who’s ever owned a dog knows about dog guilt: the sad eyed stare you get when you BBQ dinner and no hot dog accidentally falls off the grill; the pathetic whine when they think they’re going on a great car ride, only to end up at the vet’s office; the heartbreaking looks they give you when you pull out a suitcase for a trip that doesn’t involve them. And that “It can’t possibly be Monday already — are you leaving me AGAIN?” look they give you when the weekend is over and it’s back to work.

Now I have the added guilt of knowing that my dogs could have had a stay-at-home dog Mom — if only I hadn’t missed my opportunity to be a “Doggie Moms” reality star.

Maybe I need to watch more reality TV after all. At the very least, perhaps I could make friends with one of the Mob Wives of New Jersey, who could knock off a Doggie Mom so I could get the job. 

Older Dogs: Still Living Life to the Fullest

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Some years ago, I was driving to the grocery store when I saw a man carrying a very large dog. Assuming the dog was hurt, I pulled over to see if I could help.

“Is your dog injured? Do you need a ride to the animal hospital?” I asked.

He gave me a smile that was a little bit sad, and said, “She’s fine. She’s 16 now, and she runs out of steam pretty fast these days. But she loves to walk in the sunshine, even though she can’t go very far anymore. So I take her out, and when she gets tired, I just carry her home.”

I remember thinking, what a remarkable man! Although he recognized the limitations that come with age, he still honored his dog’s desire to enjoy life to the fullest, for as long as she could, and he was helping to make that happen.

Back then, my dog was still cutting her puppy teeth on my furniture, and old age seemed a lifetime away. But now that my 100-pound shep mix is fast approaching 10, I sometimes think back on that chance meeting, and the lessons to be learned from it. And I wonder…was his dog still taking walks at 16 because of some genetic good fortune, or was his willingness to help his dog experience life to the fullest part of the reason for her longevity?

As our dogs age, it’s easy to want to wrap them in a plastic bubble wrap. Rest them so they don’t get “too tired.” Protect them from getting hurt. Guard them from all the dangers of the world, as if by doing so, we can somehow keep old age from catching up with them.

So maybe we may cut the walk a bit shorter…retire them from the agility field…leave them home from our favorite pet event because we don’t want to tire them out. Maybe we assume they can’t do something and don’t give them the opportunity to try.

We want to protect them, but is this making assumptions thing truly in the dog’s best interest?

I’m not saying it’s not perfectly reasonable to make allowances for a dog slowing down as the years creep up. But shouldn’t the dog have a say in it?

Dogs are, in many ways, born to be wanderers, joyful travelers who long to explore the world, whether their trip takes them cross country, or simply around the block. They thrive on stimulation, whether it’s a playdate with other dogs, a sniff fest along a wooded trail, a rousing game of “find the treat” or a social outing with their favorite humans.

And the same way many human seniors eschew retirement because they are happiest when they’re doing what they love, dogs, too, may want to continue their life travels for as long as their legs will hold them up. Or in the case of one 16 year old dog, even longer.

And it’s not such a bad thing, that.

Because the truth is, you can’t stave off old age. No amount of rest will prevent the years from passing. But though we can’t keep our dogs from getting older, we CAN keep their lives joyful by letting them do the things they love, for as long as they can.

Is your older dog living life to the fullest? Tell us about it!