It’s Back to School Time!

“At Happy Camper our goal is to improve the lives of dogs and their owners in all situations.
“Teaching household manners will help you and your dog build a stronger relationship and will set you up to have a more enjoyable future together. That’s why we offer convenient, effective dog training solutions for busy people who don’t have time to spend their evenings or weekends at a training facility.

“Our Basic Manners and Basic Obedience Courses all happen while your dog attends Happy Camper Doggy Day Camp. Just drop off your dog in the morning for day camp and our trainers (Dave at St. Pete and Gerri at Clearwater) will work with him/her. At night, pick up your dog’s report card and your specific homework for you to work with your dog, at your pace, in your own home or wherever you choose. And when your dog and you have finished training, you’ll receive a video and graduation certificate..” ~ Mary Beth

dog training clearwater florida

Gerri works with Wraith outdoors.


Wraith is a rambunctious pup, according to his pet parent Todd Carlson. He says the 6-month-old German Shepherd is big on nipping, as most herding dogs are. Gerri says, “Working on nipping and puppy biting is a constant work in progress and requires all Happy Camper staff and Wraith’s parents to be diligent in following through with their homework.”

The pup, whose name means ghost or spirit was more than 3 months old when he adopted the Carlsons. They had him at a different doggy day care to begin with, but a bad experience there led them to find Happy Camper.

The pup has been in training here about 3 weeks, and Todd says, “The structure has been great.” Wraith has learned “lay down,” “stay” and “no sir.” Todd says he and his wife Sandra are in training too. “You can’t train the dog without training the humans.”


Jax, a 1-year-old Chihuahua/Maltese mix has been in training for approximately 3 weeks. Dog trainer Gerri says, “I’m so impressed with Jax. He’s a very enthusiastic student.” His pet parent Lori phrases it differently. “He has to know when enough is enough. And this helps me learn how to deal with him being so hyper.”

The dog is learning “sit,” “stay” and “come.” Lori is learning how to deal with the dog’s overly enthusiastic greetings when she comes home. “I just ignore him until I get my stuff together while he jumps,
jumps, jumps.”

Jax has an older dog at home with him, and they have a doggy door so they can go outside during the day, but Lori is considering letting Jax go to Happy Camper once a week. She learned about the day camp from a friend who works here.


Nikki was vacationing in Aruba when he showed up on her doorstep — after he had been hit by a car. She kept him three days, but had to turn him in to a rescue group when she went home. Three weeks later they called her to see if she wanted to adopt him. She did, so they flew Jameson to her all expenses paid.

Pet parent Nikki says she’s had dogs her whole life, and she always puts them in some type of training. “I take it seriously,” she says. “‘No means No’ is the biggest thing.”

And Jameson, an Ibizan hound/ Portugese water dog mix, is learning about “no,” as well as other commands from dog trainer Gerri, who says, “Jameson is such a dynamic little guy and loves to please.” Jameson has been at Happy Camper since he was 15 weeks old.

Happy Birthday to Them!

Mary Beth and Skipper share more than just a birthday.

They share a birthday — August 22 — and Mary Beth and Skipper share a few other things as well — the old dog and, shall we say, mature lady. For starters, that’s the same day that they’ve spent 11 years together at Happy Camper. “Them sharing a birthday has been a joy,” says Skipper’s pet parent Dawn. “It cemented the whole thing in my mind. I can never thank Mary Beth enough.”

Skipper will be 13 years old on his birthday. And Mary Beth will be, hmmm… older than that. And as they age, there are certain symptoms that both the dog and the human share.

For one thing, there is a decline in functioning such as their memory. We aren’t sure exactly how much Skipper’s memory has declined, but Mary Beth says, “I can so go with that one. My staff tells me something and it’s gone by the time I walk out the door.”

Another loss is eyesight. Skipper’s pet parent Dawn says his eyesight definitely is going. Mary Beth says she used to be able to read the writing on planes in the sky, and now she has to wear glasses just to see the planes. Older dogs sometimes develop cataracts, but Mary Beth and Skipper have yet to deal with that problem.

A graying coat is a sure sign of aging. Skipper has gotten gray around his muzzle, and Mary Beth has grayed out above her forehead. But, despite gray hair, age hasn’t slowed down either of them. Dawn says Skipper’s veterinarian is impressed at the dog’s energy level and how muscular he is. She attributes that to his playing at Happy Camper. “His life has been fuller because he’s a camper. That’s his place.” Mary Beth has no choice except to keep moving with two Happy Campers to keep track of.

Hearing loss is an aging sign everyone is aware of. Mary Beth claims that’s why she speaks so loudly. Or maybe it’s just to be heard above the dogs talking to each other incessantly. Dawn says Skipper generally is just beginning to have some hearing loss. He’s barking more, and she thinks that may be related to hearing loss.

Hearing loss could be a good thing sometimes. Especially if you’re near either Mary Beth or Skipper when they’re sleeping. Let’s think “snoring.” And getting out of bed in the morning? Well, Dawn says that’s a chore with Skipper. He doesn’t want to get up and get going. Unless she mentions Happy Camper to him. But then he sleeps in the car both on the way there and on the way home. When he gets home, his routine is “drink, eat, go right to bed. Repeat.” Mary Beth says she doesn’t have a problem getting up. The problem comes when she tries to get out of the truck after her hour and a half commute to Happy Camper. When she opens the truck door “nothing wants to come with me.”

And speaking of losses…Skipper recently had a tooth fall out. Mary Beth hasn’t had one fall out, but she says, “I have crowns. So go with that.” And no matter what aging does to both Mary Beth and Skipper, they are loved. And maybe that’s the most important thing of all as you get older.

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