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By PATTI MURACZEWSKI, CPDT-KA, CABC, BA

I was 40 years old when I presented at my first dog camp: A camp designed for dogs and their owners who want to have a great time in nature. I wasn’t prepared for being wowed, and after 20 years of presenting at dog camps, I continue to be wowed. I am proud to be an instructor with Camp Dogwood, the only dog camp in Wisconsin, and one of only a handful across the country.

Staff and campers find it hard to explain why this experience is so addicting, so much so that many campers vie to get a spot for the next camp before the current one is even over. The closest word that I have heard used to describe this experience is “magical.” I think this is because everyone attending is enjoying valued time with their best friend or best friends as campers can bring up to three dogs at Camp Dogwood. However, that is just one part of it.

People who attend are like me; they want to learn more about activities there that they can continue to do with their dog at home. The camp offers very active sessions such as hiking and lectures about all dog-related topics, as well as hands on activities such as baking for your dog. An incredible bond is formed. It is like what young people often feel when they attend a children’s summer camp. What is different is these camp friendships are not as fast to slip away because social media makes it easier to keep in touch afterward.

Camp Dogwood was started at Camp Henry Horner in Illinois but a few years ago moved to Perlstein and Chi Resort up at the Wisconsin Dells. The move opened even more experiences to share with your dog specific to the Dells area. Every fall and spring, campers are given the opportunity to take a ride on the Wisconsin Dells Ducks and yes, with their dogs! The hiking paths are long and the camp acreage is large and beautiful.

Most of the camps throughout the country are attached to a lake that provides a great place for dogs to swim at the spring and fall camps. At Camp Dogwood in the wintertime, if there is solid ice on the lake, dogs can learn to pull a sled or mush on the lake. Last year, a pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels seemed to have a better time pulling than even the Nordic breeds.

The variety of activities are vast, but camps pride themselves in introducing sports and activities that are on the cutting edge. This means you can count on something new being added to almost every camp. Some of the newest activities added at Camp Dogwood are core conditioning for dogs, dog friendly yoga, shed hunting and brush hunt. This always keeps the camp fresh.

Like any type of camp, crafts are offered. Most crafts offered center around dogs such as handmade leashes, dog bowls, etched glass, friendship stones, flirt poles or snuffle mats. Dog camps vary in the number of days they run. One of the camps out east, Camp Gone to The Dogs, offers a week of activities while other camps run for three to four days. Alysa Slay and Dave Eisendrath co-founded Camp Dogwood in 2001. Alysa found that some campers wanted a longer experience. Camp Dogwood now offers extended camp, and this allows the campers to come a day early just to chill. Needless to say, extended camp has become very popular. The cost of this experience varies, but it can average around $225 per day, which includes lodging and meals.

National Camps

If anything in this article appeals to you, take the time to look up and research the various dog camps to discover what they have to offer. There are a number of camps throughout the country, and each camp has its own flavor. Here is a list of some of the existing camps: Camp Dogwood, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Camp Gone to the Dogs, Stowe, Vt.; Camp Unleashed, Mass. and Georgia; Canine Club Getaway, Lake George, N.Y.; Dog Scouts of America; and Maian Meadows Dog Camp, Lake Wenatchee, Wash.

It is not unusual for someone to travel across the country to attend a camp. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see different states with your best friend.

By LAUREN NELSON

Whether it’s a day trip to a dog-friendly state park or a weekend away at a disc dog competition, preparation is key. But where does one start to prepare when a simple Google search can deliver an abundance of overwhelming recommendations? Easy. Start here!

Before any shopping begins, make an appointment to visit the vet. Having a dog up-to-date on vaccines and ensuring their microchip is working will make trips away from home less stressful. A quick checkup can also prevent any minor unnoticeable injuries from escalating while hiking or participating in any physical activity. After getting the go-ahead from the vet, pack these five essential products that are a must-have for an easy, breezy trip.

1. Harness With Leash: Choosing a harness over a traditional collar can prevent injuries and can give the handler more control. A harness disperses the pressure from one smaller area on the neck, to the back and the body. Harnesses are also great training tools as they discourage pulling. When a dog is wearing a collar and pulls on the leash, they are still moving forward, which makes them think the pulling is successful. A harness, whether attached on the chest or between the shoulder blades, redirects them. There’s no reward because pulling doesn’t get him anywhere. Harnesses have varied features and uses to help decide which caters best to the specific needs of each dog. Do your research before deciding on the best fit for your dog. Consider the safety, durability, style, comfort and cost.

Some options may include:
• Nylon
• Soft mesh
• Fleece
• Cooling
• Reflective or light-up LED
• Easy-walk
• No-pull
• Heavy-duty
• Padded neoprene
• Front-clip, back-clip or tightening
• And more…

2. Poop Bags: Being a responsible dog owner means picking up after your dog and being mindful about how the bags affect the environment. GreenLine Poop Bags are strong, durable bags that are designed to be biodegradable anywhere, even in landfills.

3. Water Jugs & Bowl: When traveling anywhere with a dog, bringing water is a must, and there are several different collapsing bowls or traveling mugs. For instance, Kurgo’s Collaps a Bowl makes it very easy to give your dog water on the go. This travel companion is barely an inch thick and collapses to fit anywhere. It holds up to 24 fluid ounces and is dishwasher friendly as well as BPA free. When thinking about packing water, the ASPCA recommends bottled water to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach with new tap water.

4. Food and Treats: Every dog works up an appetite when taking on new trails or participating in high-flying competitions, so packing snacks is non-negotiable. It’s also a good idea to keep kibble and treats on hand to reward good behaviors throughout the day and work on obedience training. Choosing the right food or treats is subjective. So go with your gut since you know your dog best.

5. Flea and Tick Collar: In the outdoors, fleas and ticks wait to pounce and can cause some serious health issues if they find their way under your pets’ fur. In addition to using preventive care every year when going outdoors, especially during the spring and summer when fleas and ticks are most active, it’s important to have extra protection. Earth Animal Flea and Tick Collars have a special combination of Virginia Cedar, Peppermint and Almond Oil, and the collars to repel both fleas and ticks. They are safe for animals, humans and the environment. When returning home, don’t skip checking your pets’ fur for fleas and ticks after they’ve been in the outdoors.

By LAUREN NELSON

After the polar vortex brought in wind chills of -55 degrees at the end of January, it’s safe to say every pup is ready to stretch their legs and embrace spring with fresh and fun things to do. Searching for new activities for dogs to get involved in can be tricky as they range from dog-sports to simply finding mind-stimulating games to give dogs on a rainy day. Whatever the activity level of your furry friend, there’s sure to be something here they can happily put their paws into.

High Activity Level:
Flyball is a new, unique, fast-paced team sport for dogs. The relay-style race is a perfect match for all healthy, high-energy dogs regardless of size, age or breed.

The sport goes like this. There are two teams made up of a minimum of four dogs. These two teams race side by side down a course of four jumps that are set to five inches below the shoulder height of the shortest dog on the team. Once they complete the four jumps, they get to a Flyball box. The box holds a tennis ball that ejects when the dog hits the front of the box. The objective of Flyball is for each dog to go over the jumps, hit the box, catch the ball and return over the jumps as fast as they can with the handlers remaining behind the start/finish line. Each dog takes a turn running the course and the round is complete when all four dogs have passed the finish line with no errors. The win is determined by the fastest team who completes three out of five heats.

The first step to entering the Flyball world is to first schedule and examination of your dog with your vet. It’s important to make sure they don’t have any underlying conditions that might be triggered by the impact of the sport. After the all-clear from the vet, command and obedience training is key.

Flyball encourages the improvement of focus and motivation and is different from agility because it requires teamwork between all dogs and handlers on the team. To be successful, they all must work together throughout the entire challenging, complex and fun sport. Other activities high-energy dogs excel at and require handler interaction and training are agility, disc training and dock diving.

Moderate Activity Level:
Canicross is cross country running with a dog companion and is dog-powered. The dogs are harnessed and attached to the human, and they work as a team to complete the race. The human acts as the driver, directing the dog where to go from behind the lead using voice commands. It’s an easy, low-impact sport for both dogs and humans. It also provides a method to get a human and a canine fit but works the dog’s mind and allows them to use their brain in a work mode. Any breed is welcome into the sport as long as they are fit, healthy and able to run distance.

Low Activity Level:
Dog puzzles and games are a perfect fit for low-energy dogs who prefer to be more stationary. Interactive toys are designed to help keep dogs working, challenge them mentally and get their heart pumping. Every dog is different, which is why different personalities and breeds may dictate the most successful puzzle or game. Regardless of the toy that works best for each dog, the bottom line is that an occupied mind makes a happy dog. Some of the highly reviewed puzzles and toys include the Dog Tornado Puzzle, Treat Maze, Bob-A-Lot and the Dog Brick Puzzle.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

If your plugged-in, constantly on-the-go lifestyle has you on the fritz, or you’re cuddle-deprived because of your rental rules, fur-lergic partner or nomadic nature, Milwaukee’s first cat cafe, Sip & Purr, can fill that kitty hole in your soul.

Nestled by Black Cat Alley on Milwaukee’s East Side (2021 E. Ivanhoe Place), the cafe lets you rent time to hang out with cats, while sipping on Ruby’s Coffee Roasters and munching on vegan cheese from The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The nearly 2,000-square-foot storefront has a full-service kitchen where Southwest burritos, hummus wraps and s’mores pies are all made in house. “We make our own vegan cinnamon roll with flavors that change with the seasons,” says founder and owner Katy McHugh.

Here, you can drink wine, beer or ‘cat cocktails’, with quirky names like Old Tom Cat and Meowmosa, while petting one of the 10 to 15 adoptable felines that are on the prowl in the cat lounge. They’re sourced by Lakeland Animal Shelter, which houses its cats in a cage-free environment. “They have a stress-free environment that really lets their personalities come out,” McHugh says.

In a typical shelter environment, many of these cats wouldn’t be adopted. There are fearful felines like Jordan who has a blank history and is petrified to socialize with other cats. “Instead of sending Jordan back to the shelter where we knew he didn’t have much chance of being adopted, we gave him his own cage in the back area. He loved it. We spent a lot of one-on-one time with him and gave him treats,” she says. “We left the door open where he could go and come as he pleased. By the time he was adopted, he was a lap cat.”

The cat cafe also rescues strays from Doha, Qatar, where there aren’t any shelters or humane societies. They’re spayed, neutered, chipped and vaccinated by Evenstar Charitable Organisation before they get the green light to make the 15-hour flight to the United States. “They’re fostered in my house for two weeks,” McHugh says.

Since Sip & Purr opened its doors on June 1, 2018, 174 cats have been adopted. McHugh, who has four rescue cats and two Bernese Mountain Dogs, worked as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. She was inspired by a big yellow tabby named Gigi who sauntered over and curled up on her lap at a cafe in Amsterdam. “It had been a kind of stressful trip, and petting her released the anxiety. I told my husband, ‘I just want to open a place where people can drink wine and pet cats.'”

“We’ve done cat yoga every Sunday since we’ve opened, and they’ve been sold out since.” Led by a yogini from Yoga Squad Milwaukee, 10 students bend into cat-cow or prayer squat pose, while their yoga mats act as cat magnets. If adoptable cats like Marley or Zana aren’t stretching on your back, they’re either running on their exercise wheel or taking a break from all the attention while using their litter boxes in a private area.

“Anything with cats is more fun,” McHugh says. If you’re a bookworm or a movie buff, Sip & Purr has a monthly book club and a movie night where you can discuss novels like “Maid” by Stephanie Land or view “Weekend at Bernie’s” with other cat connoisseurs.” There’s also a singles mingle. “It was not my idea but it sold out. It’s a pretty good mix of guys and girls,” she says.

Sip & Purr also brought in Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw, a social media celebrity with 875,000 Instagram followers. There are several pop-up puppy and kitten adoption events already scheduled. The cat cafe has also started a Wednesday morning story time with cats geared toward younger kids. “Our cat lounge concierge wants to do a high tea with petit fours and cats,” McHugh says. While there’s a Drag Queen Bingo at The Wise in Madison, Wisconsin, the cat cafe has drag queen Sylvia Nyxx. She comes out to read bingo numbers and offer mini (sometimes cat-themed) prizes for the winners.

“We’ll be working to be represented at Milwaukee Pride’s Block Party and in its Parade,” McHugh says. “Singles, retirees, story time, drag queens. We want to have something for everybody.” All of the money from the events and cat lounge goes to caring for Sip & Purr’s cats. If you want to attend an event, you’ll have to sign up quickly. The cat cafe is busier than a three-legged cat in a dry sandbox. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday thru Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.