Dog camps are nothing new. For years, people and their dogs have headed to camps to enjoy quality vacation time together. But at one special dog-oriented venue, attendees not only vacation with their dogs, but also help dogs who are homeless.
This human-canine paradise is Canine Country Camp, occurring once each year in Morris, N.Y. The camp, held this year from Sept. 8 to 13, is the brainchild of Lillie Goodrich, a co-founder with partner John Andersen of Glen Highland Farm, a rescue facility for Border Collies.
“We are the only camp that exists for two reasons: to give dog lovers an off-leash experience in a spectacular place and to raise funds to support the rescue of abandoned Border Collies,” Goodrich says.
The camp is about much more than just communing with nature on 175 acres of rolling countryside. Canine Country Camp is a six-day educational camp that offers expert instruction in tracking, canine freestyle, canine water sports, agility, herding, flyball, and disc retrieval. The activities are an extension of the camp’s mission to find a purpose for Border Collies, a breed renowned for its intelligence, high energy, and need for exercise.
In addition to the annual camp, Goodrich offers a Canine Country Getaway, which allows human and canine guests to have unstructured time at the farm for a minimum of three nights from June through October.
The camp “is a wonderful, unique experience,” says Patti Berte of Brookfield, Conn., who has attended with two Australian Shepherds, Daryl, age 6; Bindi, 5, and Rory, 2, a Border Collie. “There are an abundance of wonderful activities, but you can pick and choose based on interest and energy level. You’re also free to walk the beautiful paths, swim in the river, or just explore.”
Carolyn Dumaresq, who has attended the Canine Country Getaway for three years with her American Eskimo Dog, Kita, age 5, and two Border Collies, Max, 5, and Callie, 3, loves the leash-free atmosphere. “I can’t explain how free you feel when you open the RV door in the morning, step out with your cup of coffee, and just look at the grounds and see the joy the pups exhibit in the relaxed atmosphere,” says Dumaresq, who lives in Harrisburg, Pa.
Since Glen Highland Farm’s founding in upstate New York in 2001, thousands of dogs have visited and more than 1,700 Border Collies have been placed in forever homes. Typically 30 to 40 dogs live on site, running through the fields, and getting trained and socialized for placement with loving owners.
Goodrich says the camp and Canine Country Getaway generate $50,000 to $70,000 each year for Glen Highland Farm’s rescue efforts. “And the camps aren’t just about money, either,” she adds. “We find that people return to volunteer, get involved, donate, and of course adopt” needy Border Collies. That said, any breed is welcome to attend the camp or Canine Country Getaway.
Prices for attending the Canine Country Camp and Canine Country Getaway vary depending on whether campers choose to stay in tents, in their own RVs, in on-site cabins, or off-site in nearby motels. For more information, visit the Glen Highland Farm website at www.glenhighlandfarm.com — Susan McCullough
The efforts of Glen Highland Farm to help rescue Border Collies inspired FreeKibble.com, a website dedicated to providing nutritious food to shelter animals, to donate 5,000 meals to Glen Highland Farm.