Meet Two Dogs That Rescued Their Pet Parents


2017-4-stellaDon’t ever play tennis with Stella. She’s obsessed with tennis balls and thinks they are for burying. And she thinks the castle at Happy Camper is there to give her an elevated place to bark at the other dogs. But forget the tennis balls and superior positioning.

According to sleepover counselor/ receptionist Brittany, “Stella is the biggest sweetheart. She is the best at giving hugs that’s for sure. If you ever need a pick-me-up, Stella is the dog to brighten your day.”

Stella is a happy mix of a bunch of breeds. Dawn got the almost-one-year-old last June from Heidi Legacy Rescue when she was three months old. She had a DNA test done on the pup to get an idea of how big she would get and if she would be vulnerable to any particular physical problems. Turns out she’s one-eighth German Shepherd, one eighth golden retriever, and one-eighth Sheltie. The remaining five-eighths is a mix of Asian breeds (Akita, Shar Pei, Lhasa Apso, etc…) Somewhere along the line, she picked up a breed that definitely isn’t native Floridian, because Dawn says the dog loves it when it’s cold outside. But she’s not a water dog. Although she lays in puddles around the patio, when they take her to the beach, the water doesn’t hold any attraction.

Dawn found Happy Camper on the ‘net at Home Shopping Network where she works. It’s a great outlet for Stella, who started getting destructive and bored when she was left at home. “As soon as we get on the street, she gets excited,” said Dawn.

Stella isn’t on any special foods. Dawn recently gave her a piece of lettuce at lunch, and she just played with it until the other dogs took off with it.

People and dogs aren’t much of an attraction either. Dawn and Rodney walk their dogs in the morning and at night. Yesterday was the first time Stella took a walk in the daylight, and she saw squirrels. Dawn said the dog was enthralled.

Stella is one of four dogs Dawn and Rodney have. (All four share the bed at night.) Dawn endorses rescues. If people want a
particular breed of dog, there are special rescue groups for specific breeds, and some of the groups will work with the
dogs to work out some of their problem areas. She says, “I wish more people would consider rescue instead of buying.”


2017-4-charlieCharlie is a Havanese. Maybe. Or maybe it’s safer to call him All American. Whatever his breed, he has a loving home and family — which makes him very fortunate because his pet parent Chad thinks he may originally have come from a puppy mill.

Charlie was a year old at Little Victories Animal Rescue in North Virginia nine years ago when he rescued Chad. At the time, Chad was a college student whose mom was looking for a little dog and Chad saw one in the newspaper. But when they got to the shelter, they found that there were two dogs — brothers — so Chad adopted one and his mom the other.

His early background may account for the separation anxiety that Charlie suffers from. Chad said, “He’s on Prozac, which makes it better but doesn’t eliminate it altogether.” He said he videotaped Charlie before the Prozac, and all the dog did all day was run from one door to the other. He was frantic. Now he still wanders the house, but not in a panic.

Crate training didn’t go anywhere with Charlie. He hurt himself trying to get out of the crate. The separation anxiety is a big reason why the dog goes to Happy Camper. Not only does it keep him socialized, but it keeps him occupied. “When you tell him we are going there, he lights up,” said Chad.

Camp Counselor Wendy says, “Charlie is a sweet boy that loves to play all day, even though he is a little shy. He never gets into trouble and always has a smile.” Chad and Charlie were referred to Happy Camper by a friend, but this isn’t the first day care the dog has gone to. When they lived in Cincinnati, Chad figured out that if he took the dog to day care on Monday, he was exhausted all day Tuesday. Wednesday day care, Thursday, exhaustion. Easy routine.

If Charlie has a choice between people and dogs, he’ll pick people every time, says Chad. And he doesn’t like to walk in the rain, but if there’s a mud puddle, he wants to walk through it. A mass of contradictions, but a happy mass as long as he has Prozac and doesn’t have to stay by himself very often.

Cleaning Season Is On Us

Because you don’t have enough going on in your life, spring is creeping up on you and with it an unwritten mandate to do some spring cleaning. At Happy Camper, spring comes almost every day, if not twice a day. Equipment gets taken apart and scrubbed, and bowls, beds and toys get cleaned to exhaustion.

But then we have a few more dogs around here than most of you do. Here’s a few tips on what you can clean thoroughly enough to keep your dog happy and healthy: The American Veterinary Medical Association, which actually recommends cleaning crates and carriers once a week instead of waiting for spring, suggests using warm soapy water.

Pet bedding also needs constant upkeep, unless you’re lucky enough to have lost your sense of smell. Most bedding can go in the washer and dryer, or lay out in the sun to dry. That’s easy, and fleas hate it. Pet bowls need more than just being refilled every day. It’s not enough just to top off a water bowl. It needs to be washed daily before being refilled to keep mold and fungus from growing. And that doesn’t apply only to pet bowls that are kept outside. Picture yourself drinking from the same glass all of the time, adding water only when it gets low. Or how about eating off the same plate without running it through the dishwasher or scrubbing it in the sink after each meal? That’s pretty much what happens when you keep adding even dry food to a pet bowl without cleaning it. Toys that haven’t already been chewed to pieces need to be washed too. According to Apartment Therapy, “If you’re looking for a completely green way to clean, soak plastic toys in a one-part white vinegar and one-part water solution for 30 minutes. After, use a small brush to scrub away any Cleaning Season Is On Us dirt and rinse. Then allow the toy to completely dry. And if you’re dealing with cloth toys, place them in a garment bag and clean in a washing machine on cold with minimal soap.”

It goes without saying that pet vaccinations need to be kept up to date and nails need to be trimmed and dogs need to be brushed and washed often enough to keep them clean enough for human companionship. Especially if they think they are human and like to sack out on the couch or your bed.

And if all of that sounds like more than spring-is-here tasks, they are. But you already knew that, didn’t you?! Happy Spring.

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