Kids learn pet owner responsibility, bond with shelter dogs

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.
  • IF YOU HELP

  • Complete the following to register for volunteer orientation

    • Completed volunteer application

    • Pay a one-time administrative fee of $25, which includes one T-shirt and orientation materials. Fees are not refundable. If you are supervising a child, the fee is waived, ...

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  • IF YOU HELP

    Complete the following to register for volunteer orientation

    • Completed volunteer application

    • Pay a one-time administrative fee of $25, which includes one T-shirt and orientation materials. Fees are not refundable. If you are supervising a child, the fee is waived, and a T-shirt can be purchased separately.

    • The parent/guardian accompanying the child volunteering must take the volunteer orientation class.

    • Ignore a dog that tries to jump on you. By giving it any sort of attention when a negative action occurs, a dog could believe bad behavior is the only way they'll ever get attention - thus, creating a vicious cycle.

    [Source: Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center]

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."