Have Chow, Will Travel

I always thought that if I had children (only going to happen when it’s legal to crate them, LOL!), I would have to take them to Disneyland once in their young lives. It’s the penultimate adventure for children (and from what many friends have told me, a quick trip to parental grey hairs), a place created specifically so children could have the time of their lives.

My “kids” have four legs (well, except for Ahab the three-legged cat) and are covered in fur and the occasional wad of slobber, compliments of Cuba. I’d like, at some point in their lives, to take my dogs to the ocean and let them splash around in the surf. Until recently, that was my idea of canine Disneyland. Our plans to get the pups to the beach have not changed, but I found an alternative which is much closer to home and every bit the Doggy Wonderland that the beach would likely be for my pooches – Glen Highland Farm’s Canine Country Camp.

Last spring, I received an email from a lady named Lillie, inquiring as to whether I’d be willing to travel to Morris, New York for six days to teach Treibball at a camp which functioned as a fundraiser for Glen Highland – a rescue organization specializing in Border Collies. As Lillie soon found, you don’t have to twist my arm to get me to come teach Treibball, so I enthusiastically agreed.

Mokie and I loaded up the van together and made the short trip from Binghamton to Morris (about an hour and fifteen minutes). Excited, not knowing what to expect, this was our first “doggy camp” adventure together, although Mokie is a seasoned camper otherwise. Upon arrival, we were chauffeured around Glen Highland’s amazing property – over 175 acres of beautiful meadows, wooded hiking trails, trout streams, and even a lovely lake where people and their dogs could swim together (a blessing, since it was well into the 90′s with heat indexes well over 100 degrees all week long!).

I was introduced to many Glen Highland alum and couldn’t help but chuckle to myself – I’d never seen a group of dogs so absolutely thrilled to return to the rescue from which they came. “We’re back! We love this place!” It wasn’t hard to see why.

When I booked the gig for camp, I expected a six day job. I did not expect to leave with such amazing memories and so many friends who will hopefully be a part of my life for many years to come. It was, without question, doggy Disneyland. I asked Lillie and John if they would rescue me, I loved the place so much!

Mokie’s favorite parts of the weekend were:

  • the air-conditioned ride from the parking lot to the Treibball field
  • the ability to spend a full week off leash on 175 of upstate New York’s most beautiful acres
  • being in a place where dogs were permitted to jump on the table (a trick she thankfully DID NOT bring home with her)
  • having over fifty dog lovers “ooh” and “aah” over how lovely she was
  • rides on the Kubota and golf carts
  • and…drumroll please…meeting sheep for the first time!

While there were many great instructors, I must admit I was really impressed by herding instructor Warren Mick. Herding gets a bad reputation as being a stronghold for punitive training methods, but Warren was exceptionally gentle-mannered with the sheep, the dogs, and the people he worked with. He was nice enough to allow me the opportunity to put my six-year old Chow mix on his infinitely patient sheep twice!

I thought I’d share with you a video of Mokie’s first time on sheep. Literally, these were the happiest moments of her life.

If you’re looking to take your doggy to “canine Disneyland,” consider Glen Highland in the future. Not only will your dog have off leash access to 175 acres of fields, stream, and forest, you’ll get to participate in a variety of activities including agility, flyball, rally obedience, nosework, and tracking! There is great food (and the occasional Margarita or glass of wine) for all the humans as well. Glen Highland’s Canine Country Camp will allow you to create a wonderful memory with your dog that will last you forever.

As far as I know, RV’s and cabins are already fully booked for next year’s camp – so reserve your tent quickly or do whatever it takes to get on the wait list for 2013 – I hope to see you there!

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