We recently caught up with Dana Riley, she and her husband Dave attended Fall Camp 2014 with their two English Springer Spaniels, Porter age 2 1/2 and Paris age 9 1/2.  This was their first camp. Dana was kind enough to answer a few questions and shares their experience.

How did you first hear about Camp Dogwood, and when you first heard about it what was your initial thought? 
“A friend of mine, who owns a dog training business, told me about Camp Dogwood and suggested I take a look at the website.  She said it might be a fun adult getaway for all of us to do something fun with our dogs!  She had looked into a few other such camps and said this one looked like a good one!”
When you told other people you would be going to dog camp, what was their reaction (ex. some people think we are nuts going to dog camp)?
“When people heard about Camp Dogwood, there were several misunderstandings.  First, folks thought it was a weekend daycare situation for my two dogs.  Secondly, their reaction was….”Oh, you’re THAT kind of animal person….”  Meaning, overly into your pets……However, once they heard about all of the new activities we tried with our dogs, they all thought it sounded really cool!  Partnered with the campfires each night and game nights and “People” activities, they were quite interested in hearing more about it.  Some folks said they wished they had a dog so they could go!  hahahaha”
Were there any aspects about coming to camp that you were worried/anxious about - what were they?  And then once you got to camp, how did these play out? 
“I did have a worry about my one dog, Porter being around so many other dogs.  He has certain dogs that he just doesn’t like and it’s difficult for me to know which dogs he’ll like.  He growls and barks at them and will sometime lunge towards them.  When I heard about the orange bandana program, I felt a wave of relief.  I was glad that people would understand that he was a dog to approach with caution only after asking the owner’s permission.  Once we got there, I went to the class on having an “Orange Bandana Dog” and was really happy with the approach that the professionals at the camp took.  They stressed that these dogs aren’t mean dogs, they just have anxiety over new situations or may have fears and they need to be respected and given their space.  I loved that everyone (the campers) had such a great knowledge and love for dogs that they all respected Porter’s need for space with other dogs.  He ended up doing very well and my worries were really not necessary!”
What surprised you the most about your dog camp experience?
“I was surprised at the amount of activities to choose from!  There really was a ton to choose from, but yet, if you just wanted to have a quiet day hiking with your dog, you could do that too!  There really was something for everyone!  I had never heard of Flyball or Lure Coursing and loved getting the chance to have the dogs try those.  It was also great having my husband there to take Porter as his interests were very different from our older dog, Paris’, interests.  Porter is a natural born hunter so my husband took him to lure coursing, barn hunt, tracking, and flyball.  Paris and I went to agility, dog massage, hikes, excursions, and fumbled our way into weight pulling!  ( that story to come later!)  The other aspect that surprised me was the professionalism, friendliness, and breadth of knowledge that the instructors all had.  They really had great suggestions for dogs at all levels of abilities and were so very patient with beginners!”
What activities did you and your dogs enjoy the most?  Were there any particular talents you discovered your dog had that you were unaware of?
“So, I actually took Paris to weight pulling just to support my friend and her Pit bull/mastiff dog.  He’s huge and we thought he’d totally rock that!  (Which he did!) However, the instructor, encouraged Paris to try it and said all dogs of all sizes can do this!  So, we tried it.  Paris LOVED it!  Here she is, a retired “show dog” who weighs all of 34 lbs and she won her division by pulling 448 lbs!  Unbelievable!  The lesson I learned here was that we have to be careful to not impart OUR thoughts about what our dog might like/not like or do well in/not do well in.  I was floored at how much she loved it.  Looking back, what a great service that instructor did for both me and my dog by encouraging us to try new things.  After all, that’s what camp is for!  Paris and I really learned a lot that day!”
What words of wisdom would you share with someone considering coming to camp?
“Clearly my advice/wisdom would be to let your dog decide what they want/can do.  Try everything!  And, try it more than once.  I took Paris to lure coursing which was described to me as “crack for dogs”  hahahah.  Paris slept through it as all the other dogs barked at the end of their leashes waiting for their turn to chase the white plastic baggy.  Again, the instructor called me over and said he’d really like to see both my Springers run the course together.  I told him that Paris just didn’t have the interest.  He switched the Lure to an animal fur and she took off!  Both dogs ran the course beautifully!  So, try as much as you can!”
Who did you come to camp with - what are the names, ages, breeds of your dogs?
“My husband, Dave Riley and I went with our two English Springer Spaniels, Porter age 2 1/2 and Paris age 9 1/2.  Our friends that recommended camp were Lisa Antonini and Chris Broecker.  They had 3 dogs with them.  Piper who is a 6 year old Border Terrier, Mac - a 4 year old, Neopolitan Mastiff/Pit-Bull mix, and Wilson - a 9 year old Heeler/Dutch Shepherd mix.  We stayed in a cabin which was great because we had 5 dogs between the two couples and the space in the cabin was perfect to house them all!  We loved the “camp” experience we got by staying in the cabins…we’ll prep a little more for the cold for next year, however.  But we loved it so much that we’re already signed up for next year’s Fall Camp and we’re staying in cabins again!  Loved it!”