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Kids learn pet owner responsibility, bond with shelter dogs

By Carolina Astrain
July 13, 2013 at 2:13 a.m.

Victoria resident Taylor Patrick, a volunteer at Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center in Victoria, sits hugging one of the dogs at the Camp K9. Camp K9 allows kids  ages 10-15 years old to learn basic dog obedience, agility training and pet care, and  educational speakers came in to talk about how to care for pets. Camp sessions were offered throughout June and July.

The shelter dogs were scattered across a room lined with white pieces of construction paper.

Campers between 10 and 15 years old chased the animals and gently forced their painted-drenched paws onto the blank sheets of white.

A foul stench briefly wafted in the air inside the Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center's education building one hot summer afternoon.

But dog fart did not deter the center's Camp K9 participants and volunteers from having a good time.

Camp K9 is a dog owner preparation camp where DOPAC volunteers teach kids how to be good trainers for their pets.

"This camp shows these kids what they can accomplish within a short period of a time," said Sally Kuecker, DOPAC executive director. "And this way they can take these skills home and work with their dogs at home."

Jack Gendke, 11, an Industrial Junior High School sixth-grader, was at the camp with his dog, Shot, whom he decided to bring along to teach his companion some new tricks.

Jack stroked Shot's white and black coat as the dog wagged his red-painted tail.

The camp is designed to partner a student up with a shelter dog to also provide the abandoned animals with some quality human time.

"Shelter dogs get to come out their kennels and learn new tricks," Kuecker said. "There are usually lots of tears on the last day of camp."

Jack, however, decided to bring his own.

And they didn't always get along as well as they have this summer.

"When we first got him, he would bite me," Jack said. "But I think he'll start to listen to me more now."



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