OPEN HOUSE: June 19-23rd

7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Refreshments from 4 p.m.
DRAWINGS: nail clips, canine massages, paw moisturizing
Ten $10 gift certificates and One $100 gift certificate

Celebrating 10 Years at Happy Camper!


Wasabi (bottom) with his seeing eye dog Kona all dressed up for Halloween.

Wasabi (bottom) with his seeing eye dog Kona all dressed up for Halloween.

Wasabi Kessef, a Brussels griffon/rat terrier mix, has been coming to Happy Camper since February 2007. Even before Mary Beth took over. Now 11 years old, he has transitioned to the Carillon Park facility and comes about once every two weeks.

He is different from the other dogs at Happy Camper. But don’t tell him that. He went blind in 2010 after a near-fatal reaction to having multiple vaccinations at one time. Because his immune system was compromised, he developed a liver infection and pancreatitis. He’s now on a strict holistic and natural diet with reduced carbs. And he has Kona as a seeing eye dog. Mary Beth says, “Wasabi and I have covered a lifetime since we met. He added a daddy for his mom, and a brother for him and a baby brother for everyone. Wasabi’s like my college sweetheart.”

Wasabi’s baby brother Breck, 2 1/2 years old, loves “Wassi,” and is learning that leaving a toy in the middle of the room will result in a collision for the dog, because Wasabi needs to have everything in a fixed place. He navigates by his sense of smell, which Danica says is how he decides if he likes or doesn’t like either people or other dogs. If he decides he doesn’t like a person, he barks and growls at them. But he must like the other dogs at Happy Camper, because he loves coming here and playing with them.

Danica says Wasabi acclimated very well to the Carillon Park facility. She says that she doesn’t think other people would know he’s blind by watching him.


This 2014 photo shows Dutch patiently receiving acupuncture.

This 2014 photo shows Dutch
patiently receiving acupuncture.

Dutch just had oral surgery for a broken tooth. And he still gets acupuncture, although that’s down to once a year. And his diet is a special one that Julieanne cooks for him – turkey, red peppers, broccoli, rice and peas. But at almost 12 years of age, the miniature schnauzer still is going strong. And still coming to Happy Camper, as he has since he was 3 months old. Julieanne rescued Dutch, a victim of Hurricane Katrina. After two airline flights to get him from Texas to Florida, he arrived “all soiled and scared,” according to Julieanne. But she insists that she didn’t actually rescue the pup. “He rescued us,” she says. “He loves us unconditionally.”

The acupuncture and special diet go back to 2014 when Dutch developed a bladder problem and x-rays showed stones so large that the dog couldn’t
pass them. He had two surgeries to remove the stones, then went on antibiotics and special dog food. But the food made him gain weight, which gave him problems with his neck and back. Instead of having surgery, he ended up with acupuncture and the diet.

And it all seemed to work for him. Dutch has boundless energy, even after a day at Happy Camper. “He gets his ball, drops it at my feet and waits for me,” Julieanne says laughing. The only problem the pup has had recently was earlier this year when he developed bloody diarrhea and spent four or five days at the veterinary clinic. But even with an IV, he took Julieanne for walks when she visited him three times each day. Now he’s on a probiotic to keep the problem at bay. Now that Julieanne’s husband is going through some medical problems, Dutch stays home some days to keep him
company, but the dog still comes to Happy Camper. “I firmly believe that’s the best thing for dogs,” says Julieanne. “It keeps them socialized and helps them understand the pack mentality, so when other dogs come over to the house, he’s not possessive.” And how does Mary Beth picture the pup? “Dutch…a ball and a smoking jacket. Preferably cashmere.”


Mary Beth and Skipper share the same birthday.

Mary Beth and Skipper share the same birthday.

Skipper is an “everyday dog” as well as a weekend camper when his pet parent Dawn has to go out of town. He’s so ingrained at Happy Camper that he helps new campers acclimate to the routine. Dawn says, “Honestly, he is the dog that new dogs and puppies get put with.” And Skipper is the dog that other campers have to vie with when Halloween rolls around. She says the idea for costumes just come to her, and Skipper “tolerates Mommy’s moment of crazy. For one day he sucks it up.”

The dog preceded Mary Beth at Happy Camper, having come to the facility since he was 6 months old, and he’ll be 12 in August. Dawn said that any doubts she may have had about the transition of ownership disappeared when she learned about Mary Beth’s vision and expectations. Since then, Dawn said they’ve shared some low lows and some high highs, and she’s proud every time Mary Beth is nominated for an award.

Dawn must be happy with Happy Camper, because she drives from Tarpon Springs to drop Skipper off, then goes back across the bay to her job in Ybor City. She doesn’t see any reason for change, explaining that she can’t take the dog away from Happy Camper and “his work there.” She adds that, when she meets new parents, she tells them how long Skipper has been coming there and how positively she feels about it.

Skipper has a reason to go to Happy Camper because of all of the love and attention he gets there. Dawn says the staff really bonds with the dogs. And, as with other campers, Skipper gets worn out at the end of the day. Once he gets home, he eats, and goes to bed. Mary Beth says, “Skipper’s mom is like our Happy Camper Sorority mom She knows we watch every move her Skipper makes from his ‘interesting dog habits’ to his need for extra love and cheese when mom goes away. And Skipper’s mom always has an ear for my staff, food for their weary little over-worked selves or some advice for their lives. Skipper is TRUE family after all of these years.”

Here’s Our Summer Schedule

June 4-10th POOL PAWTY
June 11 – 18th Father’s Day cards
June 19-23rd Happy Camper 10 yr Anniversary Celebrations & OPEN HOUSE
June 25 -30th FROSTY PAWS are back!

July 2rd – 7th 4th of July Photos and Flags for SleepOver Campers
July 10th -14th The Hoola Shuffle boundry exercise
July 17 – 21st Pool PAWTY
July 24 – 29th Bacon Bubbles

August 1 – 5th Fun in the Sun Sunglasses
August 7 – 12th Pool Pawty Apple Dunking
August 14 -18th Dog Days of Summer LUAU finale

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