The Camp Experience

The Fenzi Camp ended up being a really great experience, very glad that I went, and very fortunate it ended up being in my backyard. Depending on the circumstances, something I might travel to in the future, as it is just a very inspiring experience to be an environment with great trainers and good information. And it’s so nice to be a place where every presenter is doing their best to actually spend the time to make every dog AND person as comfortable as possible. Wonderful to have trainers being advocates for the dogs and for the handlers.

I think the difference between this and Clicker Expo is the focus is on dog sports, even if the session is not actually about a specific sport, it’s still with the assumption that the dog sports are the goal. Clicker Expo was a much broader audience, with sports being a side attraction. In some ways that was interesting too, some of the presentations at Clickerexpo are things that don’t really apply to sports, but were super interesting.

Still, of the two, it’s way more engaging when the sessions are focused on things I actually DO, rather than theory. And, let me say, there are a lot of trainers that can spout training THEORY at the drop of a hat, but are actually poor trainers. Theory does not equal execution. In fact, my little revelation for the camp is that what was happening was presenters were attempting to break down and explain in steps how to train things that natural good dog trainers do instinctively. This is not always easy or effective, but I did see many different protocols from a variety of trainers attempting to teach people how to produce the same concepts, just in different ways. I think the problem comes from trainers that don’t have good skills themselves thinking that just religiously restating a protocol is THE WAY things should be trained. Good trainers understand that every dog is different, and that you don’t try to change the dog to fit the protocol, but the protocol to fit the dog.

Anyway, I liked all the presenters I saw over the weekend, I tried to get around to a wide variety. The bummer part about a camp like this is that you do have to miss things that you would have otherwise really liked to see, and especially with trainers you’ve never seen, it’s hard to judge which would be the best time investment.

What I ended up with:

Agility Motivation Games – Loretta Mueller

Ready to Work – Shade Whitesel

Engagement – Denise Fenzi

Judging Pressure – Amy Cook

Utility Problem Solving – Nancy G. Little

Play Without Toys – Amy Cook

Back Chaining – Julie Flanery

Privates with Loretta Mueller

Distance – Amanda Nelson

Privates with Hannah Branigan

Confidence Games – Amanda Nelson

I tried seeing Julie Symons for Obedience Games, but it was too hot out in the arena at that point. I also had to skip out on Focus with Deb Jones to get Navarre worked on and she was one I was very curious about seeing work in person, I heard good things though.

Probably the most unexpected favorite was Amy Cook. Knew nothing about her, she does reactive/fearful dog training, which is not my area of interest. The thing is, dealing with those sort of issues is HARD, and I don’t know many people that really do it well. Amy was great to see work with dogs, and probably because she comes from that focus of working with fearful/reactive, she was so good at bringing out the play and happy of all types of dogs. I love seeing that sort of thing! And, let me say, you want to talk about hard, try having a session on personal play with dogs that don’t like to play in a crazy overwhelming environment with everyone watching with dogs you’ve never met before that you’re supposed to teach them how to do this in less than 5 minutes each. Now that’s a challenge, and she did it very well. Fun presenter as well.

No bad presenters in the bunch though, some better at speaking than others, but I felt like I brought back something from everyone. I have tons of notes that I’m sure I won’t be able to read or understand. OMG, so dyslexic at this point, how did I ever used to write? Just very motivating to have new ideas to try out in classes, things to try with my dogs and it’s just always inspiring to see what can be done when you let it be dog’s idea. In both agility and obedience it can be hard to see people putting so much pressure on their dogs, rather than inviting as a partner. But it’s a hard concept to wrap your head around if it’s not something you’ve seen before. So relaxing to be a place where everyone was focused on bringing the joy out in their dogs.

My brain did reach capacity about 2pm today, I ended up staying to about 4:30, but I was ready to head home and process. It always takes me a while to process and think about new ideas and concepts. The leap between seeing, processing and actually applying to your own training is a big one. I went home and napped in the air conditioning, hiding from the 100 degree temperatures. Hopefully everything started to get filed away at that point, as I had some WEIRD dreams.

Oh, and I forgot I also snuck in a photography private with Amy Johnson, who was there photographing the event. So that was fun to talk to someone about action photography with dogs, which is really it’s own very specialty niche. Was very helpful to hear her process and have a better idea of what is reasonable to expect, especially with erratically moving targets. She has a class on action dog photography coming up in August I’m going to look into as well, I liked her a lot.

Meanwhile, Navarre had his big agility vacation today! I dropped him off with Heidi about 8am and she took him and Dove to the trial today. Have I mentioned the 100 degree temperature thing? Heidi stayed for all her runs though! Salem is actually the best venue for heat, the open sided arena is the coolest place you can be, especially if there is a breeze, which there was today. Heidi said Navarre was totally relaxed and happy all day, no worries at all. Sounds like they had some good parts to their runs, though I’m still saying my dog DOES know how to rear cross – I made sure of it for this one! I met Heidi as she was getting back from the trial this evening (long day!) and Navarre and Dove were ripping around the property, shoulder the shoulder, matching smiles – they are just so fricken adorable together. And it’s true, they really grew up to be the dogs I thought they would be at 4 weeks. Navarre is the good boy, Dove is the party girl, and they are just such SWEET and happy dogs. I’m so glad that we ended up getting littermates, watching them grow up together has just been so much fun.

Of course, now less fun is that Navarre is limping again. ARRGH. He was running around at Poodletopia, full out, trotting, running, jumping, playing – looked totally sound. Got home and let him out of his crate – limping on the right front again. WTF? He walks it out, but continuing to get up with that limp, same sort of ‘whole side’ limp, I think it’s the neck again. So no trial for him tomorrow, not sure what to think at this point, but super frustrating. Him and Bright will hang out at home while Haku and I head to the obedience trial tomorrow, maybe Navarre will be magically fixed by then. But, still, what is the issue? Hmmm ….

Oh, and guess who turned six? Brightypants! Such a mature sounding number. I just adore that dog more than I can say, she can make these squishy smiling faces that make me laugh and melt at the same time. Such a wonderful friend and my constant shadow, I know we will be best buds forever.


One Reply to “The Camp Experience”

  1. Navarre and I need to play together more. I loved it, and I’m sure he didn’t hate it. I do love having littermates that are almost next door neighbors. Great to see them grow together, and a great way to deepen a human friendship.


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