Kids, dogs bond at Camp K9 (Video)

July 28, 2012 at 2:28 a.m.
Updated July 29, 2012 at 2:29 a.m.

Bailee Burris, 11, gives a parting hug to Timber, a chihuahua mix, before leaving Camp K9 at Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center.

Bailee Burris, 11, gives a parting hug to Timber, a chihuahua mix, before leaving Camp K9 at Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center.   Todd Krainin for The Victoria Advocate

After a weeklong doggy boot camp, Yoshi plopped down on cool concrete in front of his new best friend.

Yoshi is a nearly 2-year-old Shar-Pei mix -- or, to have the girl patting his belly tell it: "He's one of those wrinkly, old Chinese dogs."

"He's a really laidback dog," Tori Awalt, 11, added. "He's really sweet, but sometimes he can be a little bit too lazy."

Tori, who's from Lewisville but was spending some time with her grandparents in Victoria, got to know Yoshi during one of Dorothy O'Connor Pet Adoption Center's Camp K9 events that the center hosted throughout the summer.

At the camps, kids learned how to care for dogs and how to train them to walk on a leash, sit, stay and eventually how to navigate a K9 obstacle course. They also heard from guest speakers like animal control, the Victoria County Sheriff's Office and a veterinarian.

Andre Ganauser, 13, was there with his own dog, Lance. Andre had been to the camp the past two years, but this is the first one he was able to come with his own dog - a 4-month-old German Shepherd mix.

"When we first got him, he didn't walk on a leash, and now he's walking better," Andre said.

Though there was no denying Lance is still a puppy, Andre's dad, Erik Ganauser, said the camp has been beneficial for both of his boys.

"I know Andre enjoyed it, and Lance enjoyed it just as much," he said.

On the last day of camp, the kids and dogs showed their skills off to parents. A video and photo slideshow of the week's activities projected onto a wall, inciting plenty of laughs and "aww's" from campers and their audience.

When it was showtime, the kids and their dogs hopped to their feet and breezed through the obstacle course before settling in for one last cuddle together. At the end of camp, it's always hard to say goodbye, said Sally Kuecker, executive director of the adoption center.

"Tomorrow, those dogs look for those kids, and they're not there," she said.

But thanks to the time and effort campers put in, the dogs are better behaved and hopefully more attractive to potential owners, Kuecker said.

Tori said she's already told three people about Yoshi and how he can sit and stay, in hopes of finding him a good home.

"I don't care what I have to do to get Yoshi adopted. I will do whatever it takes," Tori said.



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