Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nubble's First Camping Trip

For a dog that loves to swim and go hiking, a week of camping is a dream vacation. Nubble went on his first camping trip to Seneca Lake at Sampson State Park in the Finger Lakes Region of New York last week and loved every minute of it!

Before Donna and her family left for their camping trip, she was a little concerned about how Nubble would handle it. He loves to play with other dogs and gets very distracted by them, and she knew that there would be lots of dogs at the campground. But even though Nubble tried to pull Donna toward every dog the first night, he realized that dogs were just another fact of life and calmed down. He may be starting to realize that every dog is not a playmate. He still barked once at the dogs walking by, but other than that, he made great progress.

Sometimes it's tough to sleep in a strange place, but Nubble had no problem. Donna put his crate under the overhang of their tent, and he settled down nicely. The first night he was a little concerned because everyone stayed up late and was making noise, but with all the swimming, walking and other excitement during the day, Nubble was ready to sleep at night.

Just because Nubble was on vacation doesn't mean he had a break from his training. In fact, vacations like this are the perfect time to practice because there are so many new distractions. Nubble went on lots of walks with his puppy raisers, and there were plenty of opportunities to practice leave it - other dogs, butterflies, kids on bikes, frisbees... When Nubble saw a group of people playing frisbee, he really wanted to join them. He soon figured out that leave it also applies to human toys, even if they look suspiciously like dog toys.

If you've been following our posts about Nubble, you probably know that stairs are a huge challenge for him. Well, at the campground, he got lots of practice. There was a long flight of steps leading down to the swimming area and playground, and Donna and Lindsey walked him up and down many times to get him comfortable with stairs. Donna wanted to walk the gorge at Watkins Glen, and there are over 800 steps going up! She wanted to make sure Nubble would be able to do it.

And he did! Their trip to Watkins Glen was a success! All those stairs had him pretty excited, though. He would look at the next flight as if he wanted to bolt right to the top. He managed to contain himself, though. By the end, he was so tired that he wasn't even thinking about rushing up the steps! They took the path for most of the way down rather than the stairs, but when they did take the stairs, Nubble walked nicely next to Donna.

Watkins Glen has a waterfall, and Donna wasn't sure how Nubble would react. He loves water, and she was afraid he would try to jump in! He seemed to understand that the waterfall wasn't something he could play in.

The next day they went to Taughannock Falls. This trip, however, was a different story. Because this was a challenging outing for Nubble, Donna packed plenty of power treats to keep him focused on her. Well, Nubble got into the treat bag and ate all of the power treats before they even got to the Falls! All Donna had left was kibble - not tasty enough to make Nubble ignore all of the wonderful sights and smells, and definitely not tasty enough to compete with the lure of the water next to the path. They did find a can of Kong treats, though, which helped a little bit. But Nubble just kept pulling and pulling. Finally, Donna gave him to Lindsey for a while. She used the Kong treats and took him down near the water. As soon as Nubble was walking by the water, he was a completely different dog, walking nicely beside Lindsey.

Nubble loved swimming at the campground. The lake was very calm the first two days, but then the water got choppy. At first, Nubble just watched the waves, not exactly sure if he wanted to have anything to do with them. But of course, he was soon diving into the waves and jumping over them!

By the end of the week, Nubble was exhausted! The car ride from New York was the longest drive he had done since he traveled all the way from Maine when he was eight weeks old. (Nubble originally came from Maine. He's named after the Nubble Lighthouse there.) He had done great on the ride to New York, with lots of water and breaks. On the ride home, he was even better. He slept the entire way!

Back home, it was time for a vet visit for his nine-month x-rays. When the dogs are nine months old, they get x-rayed to make sure that their bone structure is good enough for them to continue in our service dog program. If a dog has problems with their bones, such as hips or elbows, we will not place them with a person. It wouldn't be best for the person or the dog. This vet visit was well-timed, because Nubble had picked up a hotspot on his neck and the vet was able to treat it when he came in for his x-rays. And when the vet weighed him, he weighed 66 pounds! Quite a big boy!

This weekend, Nubble is off to Ocean City, MD! We'll have more about his beach trip next week.


  1. we are having great success training our adopted golden doodle pup and he is very much like Nubble (except for the stairs part ... no problem there!) I wanted to suggest that to save the tennis elbow on the owner/trainer of a strong retriever pup, try an Easy Walk harness instead (picture here: ). Our Sampson was adopted at 9 months and was already almost 70 pounds (he's a big boy). We had tried other kinds of collars and harnesses, but this one has been the most humane and quickly teaches him that he can't pull us around. He acted like a sled dog with the others. It has saved my elbows from tendonitis and kept me and my son from getting worn out from handling him when we are in the community for extended periods of time. Sampson also did superbly well on his first campout with our scout troop and at the busy/crowded barn dance that evening. We can't wait to get him to the beach and see how he likes the water!

  2. I use an Easy Walk for SSD Fire when we're working and not on a "dog walk," and you're right, it does wonders!

  3. I was going to say that Nubble and his brother, George are twins, until I read that Nubble ONLY weighs 66 pounds! George was neutered yesterday and weighed in at 81! He is a big fella, very laid back, very affectionate, VERY good. I'm lucky to see him pretty regularly as he belongs to our daughter and her fiance. George and his mother are great friends and it is fun for all when he comes 'home', putting our dog population up to 5.

    I saw one of the girls of the litter last week-she is a petit little thing, 61 pounds and the spitting image of her mother Nellie. Does Nubble have any big plans for his #1 birthday? It is coming right up, October 10th. ;)

    George wears an Easy Walk harness too, it is a great thing. I am trying to convince his people to try the Easy Walk head collar-I've had it on him today and it really works. We had all the My Wonderful Dog dogs in them as they got old enough.