Janice Costa has been working with dogs for more than two decades, and has been planning dog vacations professionally for more than 15 years, but her love affair with dogs began long before that. She got her first dog, a beautiful English Shepherd, when she was 11 months old, and before she even outweighed the dog food bag, Janice had taken over care and feeding duties. She’s been passionate about dogs ever since.
In 2002, after losing her beloved black lab mix, Tiffany, she decided to honor her faithful friend’s memory by getting involved in rescue work. Soon she had adopted a rescue dog of her own and, recognizing that’s a tired dog is a good dog, she became active in obedience classes, agility and service dog training. She continued to volunteer with dogs and became certified as both a Therapy Dog Test Examiner and an AKC Canine Good Citizen and Tricks Testing Evaluator. She’s also a certified instructor in Pet First Aid and Canine CPR.
Because her job required a good deal of travel, she cherished spending vacation time with her dogs, and in 2009, frustrated by the lack of travel options for dog lovers, she became co-owner and founder of her first dog vacation business, Canine Club Getaway, and later launched Canine Camp Getaway of NY.
When she’s not busy planning new activities for Canine Camp Getaway, or organizing games and entertainment for the North America Diving Dogs National Championship Meet and Greet Party for 500, Janice is active in a wide variety of dog sports, including dock diving, agility, Fast CAT and canine freestyle dance. Her Labrador/malinois cross Lexie is a two-time National Champion, having won first place in the Veteran Class Master Division in both the 2017 and 2018 AKC/NADD National Championships, and her younger labrador/malinois cross Melina was the 2021 NADD Northeast Regional Champion in the Master Division and most recently had the opportunity to jump at Westminster. Janice also performs with the internationally renowned Canine Stars traveling stunt dog show. When she’s not competing or performing, she chairs several pet food and supply drives to support various shelters and rescue groups and conducts home visits and helps to transport rescue dogs to their new homes.
Janice enjoys writing about all things dog-related, and has written for numerous dog magazines, including Bark Magazine and Fido Friendly. She blogs about pet-friendly travel in her “Traveling Tails” blog, and has spoken about everything from pet-friendly design and Canine CPR to therapy dog work at shows throughout the tri-state area.
Janice is proudly owned by her water dog, Lexie, her exuberant malinois, Kaylee (who authors the beloved “Kaylee Uncrated” blog on Facebook), her “pandemic puppy” Melina, along with one very tolerant cat. The whole family is watched over by the Jessie, the Belgian Malinois/Collie/Shepherd mix who started it all, and who continues to keep an eye on “her” camp from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
When she’s not planning dog events, Janice works in the home design industry, and has authored two books, Grand Master Baths (Creative Homeowner) and Everything and the Kitchen Sink: Remodel Your Kitchen Without Losing Your Mind (Andrews McMeel). She is currently at work on a dog memoir, Jessie’s Girl. She dedicates Canine Camp Getaway of NY to her beloved (and never forgotten) Tiffany dog, to her angel, Jessie, and to Lexie, Kaylee, and Melina who every day leaves indelible paw prints not only on her clothing, but on her heart.
Ambassadog Emeritus & Founding Ambassadog, CCG Heaven Chapter
Born in Pennsylvania and dumped in a kill shelter when she got too big, Jessie had to overcome some major trust issues with humans when she was first adopted. However, she always enjoyed the company of other animals (even helping to rescue an injured squirrel once), so dog activities became a major part of the socialization process once she found her fur-ever home.
Coming from strong working lines, Jessie shared her Mom’s Type A personality, and it soon became clear that, like most working dogs, she was happiest when she had a job. Obedience, retrieving balls and running agility initially filled that void, and later, she expanded her work to include retrieving medicine, water and the cordless phone on command, as well as working with the elderly.
A high-drive dog, Jessie found herself entranced by lure coursing (aka ‘crack cocaine for dogs’) and sought out opportunities to engage in various dog sports. But Jessie also had a strong social streak, and soon was helping to organize dog get-togethers with neighborhood dogs and everything from hikes to beach trips to holiday parties.
Although her life was good, she had one major complaint: Mom often traveled on business, and invariably she was left behind. Why can’t we travel together? she wondered.
“There are no dogs where I’m going; even if I could bring you, you’d be stuck in the hotel room and there would be nothing for you to do,” was the inevitable response.
That’s when she came up with The Great Idea: Why not go someplace together and invite all their favorite dogs and dog people, and plan fun, dog-friendly activities so they could spend time together and no one would be stuck alone in the hotel room?
Thus was born Canine Camp Getaway of NY, which Jessie always viewed as one of her proudest accomplishments.
After supervising eight camps, at the ripe old age of 13-1/2 years, Jessie was ready for a new challenge; today, she is Founding Ambassadog of the CCG Heaven Chapter, where she continues to welcome beloved CCG alumni dogs and friends who have crossed the rainbow bridge.
Part of an oops litter from a Black Labrador narcotics dog and a Belgian Malinois protection dog, Lexie comes from strong working lines. However, her joyfully silly personality and love of all things social suggest that somewhere in her lineage, she has equally strong playing lines, making her ideally suited for her job of doggie cruise director for Canine Camp Getaway of NY.
A high-energy dog who adores every creature she’s ever met, Lexie loved the idea of hosting a vacation where dogs and humans could spend time together romping, playing, learning, socializing, relaxing and just having fun.
An inveterate swimmer, she loves pools of all sizes, and would swim in her water dish if she could. As a competitive dock diver, Lexie earned her first dock diving title in in 2015, and then went on to earn her AKC Dock Master and Dock Elite titles through North America Diving Dogs in 2016, jumping a personal best of 26 feet and earning a much-coveted invitation to AKC Nationals. In December of 2017, she attended her first AKC Dock Diving Nationals in Orlando where she won first place, earning the title of NADD 2017 National Champion in the Veteran Class Master Division. In 2018, she added a Dock Master Excellent title to her repertoire, and shortly thereafter, became a two-time National Champion when she took top honors again in the 2018 NADD/AKC National Championships in the Veteran Class Master Division with a jump of 23’6″. At age 14-1/2, she is still jumping strong, and believes water dogs have more fun! She also believes the dog-friendly pool is the very best part of Canine Camp Getaway (though she highly recommends lure coursing as well!).
When she’s not performing hostess duties at Canine Camp Getaway of NY, she is excessively fond of balls, long walks, Croc boots, stealing her sister Kaylee’s toys, games of chase, stuffed toys and anything else that involves having fun with dogs, cats, people, water, or her own tail. She is excited to be helping to plan the 2024 Getaways and is looking forward to meeting, greeting and swimming with both new and returning dog friends, and celebrating her 15th birthday at camp.
A Texas puppy discovered on death row by a long-time camper and rescue advocate, Kaylee was underweight and partly bald from a bout with mange when she ended up in a blurry photo on a Facebook rescue plea. Unfortunately, her future Mom was looking for a floppy-eared shepherd pup – and she didn’t quite fit the bill. Still, convinced that she was meant for better things, Kaylee masqueraded as a German Shepherd mix with floppy ears just long enough to get to her new home in New York.
Upon her arrival, she promptly popped up her ears and admitted that she was actually a Belgian Malinois. Fortunately, she was adorable enough that no one minded her little “bald-faced” lie – and since she wasn’t the first “accidental malinois” to make her way into her home, she quickly adapted to her new, malinois-friendly home with her half-mal sister.
While malinois are often aloof with strangers, Kaylee has yet to meet one – indeed, she views every man, woman, child or random person in a hoodie as a long-lost friend, making her the perfect camp ambassadog.
More “pounce on her sister’s head and roll in the tomato plants” than hardcore working dog, Kaylee is nonetheless a passionate soul who adores lure coursing, her best friend Al the Stuffed Alligator, freeze dried beef liver treats, squeaky toys, her flirt pole, flyball, chasing and being chased, late night walks, stashing her treasures in the bedroom where her Mom will trip over them late at night, making new dog friends, Frosty Paws, gardening (she’s particularly fond of dancing on the tomato plants and chewing the protective garden gate into teeny, tiny pieces!), running on the beach, tackling her sister Melina, chasing the cat, blogging on her “Kaylee Uncrated” Facebook page and enjoying vacations at Canine Camp Getaway!
The newest addition to the CCG family, Melina was a birthday present to her sister Kaylee (at least that’s how Kaylee sees it!) who needed a playmate who wouldn’t mind being tackled on a regular basis. A black lab/belgian Malinois cross like her sister Lexie, Melina was also part of an “oops litter” – but this high-energy girl is no one’s “mistake!” Smart, athletic, joyful and full of fun, she took to dock diving from her first day in the water, and is training to be a service dog as well.
Adopted just before COVID hit, Melina was a “pandemic puppy” who still feels cheated that she didn’t get to spend her early months meeting and greeting the world. Despite this, she loves dogs, cats and people, and was excited to make up for lost time at her first camp.
She earned her Dock Elite title with North America Diving Dogs in her first season with a personal best of 26 feet, and won first place at her first-ever NADD Northeast Regionals in the Masters Division. She has since earned her multiple titles in distance and air retrieve, along with invitations to Regionals and Nationals, with a personal best distance jump of 28.9 feet. Most recently, she was asked to perform with The Canine Stars traveling stunt dog show where she took the dock by storm, winning fans with her dare devil high jumps and joyful post-show kisses to all the kids who came to see her and her canine co-stars.
Her passions include swimming, dock diving, jumping, chasing rabbits, eating (anything and everything!), tackling and being tackled by her sister Kaylee, playing tug-of-war with her sister Lexie, murdering garden hoses, stealing her Mom’s Croc boots and shredding her older sisters’ stuffed toys.
She is excited to be meeting and greeting new friends and stealing pool toys at the 2024 camps!