Rehabilitation Camping Trip - Camping For Boxers

Everyone wants the “perfect dog.”  Beautiful coat, gorgeous markings, ideal build, and most of all, amazing disposition.  But, what most people forget, is that dogs are not meant to be “perfect” specimens.    They each have their own individual personality and charm that make them special, just like their human counterparts.  The problem is, when they have been so severely neglected and mistreated, their spirit begins to fade.  And, many rescue dogs have never had the chance to become the dog that they were meant to be.  And the longer they are deprived of individual attention and care, and, the more they must endure kennel life, day after day, month after month, year after year, the more their spirit diminishes.  And, when the average person comes to adopt their “perfect dog,” these are the dogs that consistently get passed over, time and time again.

The Camping Team to the rescue!

A group of dedicated volunteers decided to give some of these deprived “un-perfect” dogs a chance to shine, and loaded up their cars with dogs and crates and headed off to a mountain cabin in central California .  Not only did they give the dogs a chance to escape the kennel, where many have spent years of their lives waiting for a home, but to experience life for a weekend the way a dog was meant to – a warm home, long walks, fresh air, and most importantly, a loving leader.  8 dogs were chosen to participate in the program -- Many of them dogs that would have otherwise been euthanized had it not been for the no-kill Boxer Rescue organization.  The decisions were based on dogs that ultimately have a good probability for rehabilitation – those that have behavior problems, but, in the right environment, have the ability to let their true and wonderful personalities transcend a past filled with neglect and abuse.   

At first, the dogs were very anxious and excited – not quite sure what to make of their new surroundings.  A few minor scuffles broke out.  Many of the dogs felt unsure and nervous, especially after spending months and even years behind bars at the kennel.  But, after the first night, the dogs began to feel content and happy.  The energy level changed from anxious and unsure, to comfortable and cheerful.  The volunteers took long hikes through the mountains where pine trees, mountains, and clean air prevailed.  The dogs thought they had died and gone to doggie heaven.  They romped, sniffed, hopped, played, and soaked up the cool winter sunshine – forgetting their painful past and relishing in the moment of pure, simple content, with people who love and care for them.  That evening, their personalities really came out, as you will see from the descriptions below. 

More than just training these dogs to behave in a home setting, the Camping Team volunteers learned an important lesson.  They learned not to judge a dog based on his or her behavior in a stressed environment.  They learned that there is much more to a dog than meets the eye, and that personalities can bloom immeasurably, even in a short weekend.  Some of the volunteers were actually frightened by some of these “problem” dogs at the beginning, but by the end of the weekend were interacting with them as if they were their own dogs.

So, when you decide to open your home to a rescue dog, remember that the dog that may not seem so perfect at first, may surprise you…..


K.O. – This dog lives up to his name – Knock Out.  He is an absolutely gorgeous guy who will knock you out with his calm and stately demeanor, amazing loyalty, and perfect manners.  He gets the award for the “Most Well Behaved” on the camping trip.  We think K.O. came from a loving home since he is so well adjusted and behaved. His only issue is that he has some aggression toward certain men.  We suspect that somewhere down the line, either by a friend of the family or a construction worker at the home, he was mistreated by a man.  If you were to be the lucky new owner of K.O., you would have to slowly acclimate him to male strangers so that he eventually understood they would not hurt him.


Lennon – AKA “The General.”  You will be amazed by how well trained and obedient this dog is.  Not to mention his perfect fawn Boxer physique.  This guy will sit in front of you and stare straight up into your eyes waiting for his next instruction (or a yummy treat!).  He can be a serious guy – but, when he is finally relaxed, your heart is warmed by his playfulness and longing for your attention.  You almost feel privileged to have the attention of the statuesque “General.”  Lennon gets the “Team Leader Award” since he watched over all the campers very carefully.  Lennon needs an experienced, calm, assertive leader who will gently guide him to be more relaxed and at ease.  We think someone was extremely rough with him.  Lennon's new owner will have to ensure that he has a relaxed environment in which to feel safe and calm.  And, they will have to make sure that no strangers approach him during the first few months in his new home.  Then, slowly, they can begin to introduce him to new people so that he begins to feel comfortable.


Sachi – Wow.  Check this handsome boy out.  This guy should be on the cover of Boxer Vogue.  He is a playful, goofy, ball of fun and energy.  This guy gets the award for the “Camping Clown,” since he was always ready for an outdoor game.  On the hikes, Sachi would run ahead of everyone, then turn around and wait for everyone to get near, then pounce, hop, and bounce on ahead for a new game.  He would do wonderfully in a home with another dog.  Not only is Sachi, playful, but he is very clever, too.   When he got tired after a long hike through the mountains and he was back at the cabin resting, he would pull a blanket down from the couch, make a nest on the floor, and go to sleep.  Sachi's new owner would never have a dull moment with this fun-loving guy!  But, Sachi is the kind of dog that needs very slow introductions to new people.  He also needs a firm, experienced leader to guide him as he is very obedient and benefits from structure and routine. 


Buddy – Oh, what a sweetheart this guy is. He has spent his “puppyhood” locked away in a kennel. Buddy really didn't even know how to play, but, on the camping trip, was able to let loose and be a puppy again. He gets the “Biggest Transformation Award.” He ran, sniffed, rolled in the grass, wiggled, ate ice cream, and felt, probably for the first time, what it was like to be a carefree dog. Buddy has come a long way since arriving at the rescue a few years ago. His fear aggression toward strangers has substantially subsided, and he was able to hang out with other dogs on the trip. However, his new owner will have to keep up the good work with Buddy - he should continue working on his social skills – both with strangers and other dogs. Once Buddy trusts you, he is a loving cuddle-bug who responds amazingly well to commands and training techniques. If given the chance, Buddy will be an affectionate, loyal companion.


Lucas – We call this guy Max Factor because the black markings around his eyes look like eyeliner. He is a big, beautiful white Boxer who has a lot of energy and bonds very quickly to people. Lucas gets the “Best Snuggler Award” since he so loves and appreciates any soft surface, including his blanket. He also loves to cuddle with people too. Lucas has wonderful leash manners, is well trained, and wants to please. Shoulder rubs and long walks are two of his favorite things. Lucas is very playful, and can sometimes get too excited during play time, so his new owner will have to teach him how to calm down and play more gently. Lucas can get overwhelmed in an excitable situation so he needs a quiet, adult home, and would be best as an only dog.


Bosco – This guy gets the “ Social Butterfly Award.” Every few hours, he would have to make the rounds and greet everyone in the cabin and give them kisses, including the other dogs. Bosco is an easy going, absolute sweetheart who walked off-leash and got along with everybody. When one of the volunteers made milkshakes for everyone and accidentally spilled the pitcher, Bosco was right there helping to clean it up off the floor! (He probably had a full milkshake himself!) Bosco is getting up there in years, and it is a shame to have such a wonderful dog spending his golden years stuck in a kennel. Bosco would do wonderfully in an adult home with another dog. His new owners will have to make sure that Bosco has plenty of beds and pillows on the floor, since he should not be allowed on the bed or the furniture. He can get a little grumpy if you try to move him off the furniture, so better to keep him off of it entirely. Bosco also can get grumpy around kids, so a quiet, peaceful, adult home would be best.


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January 2005 Newsletter



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