A canine camp full of fun

Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital offers new service for your pet
By Anne Baker | Dec 02, 2013
Photo by: Anne Baker Kate and Brian Birthright play tug-of-war with two of their canine friends.

Dr. Brian Birthright and his wife, Kate, are playing tug-of-war with their dog on the lush green canine turf of Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital’s dog camp when the couple stops, laughs and begins playing the game with each other. The dog camp staff, better known as “counselors,” watch, amused, as Brian and Kate yank on the rope dog toy and a few canines try to join the fun.

“We wanted to make sure we did this a little differently,” Brian says, as if on cue.

Maple Tree’s dog camp is not an average daycare for furry friends. The Birthrights have designed a safe environment that provides multiple enrichment opportunities for dogs through physical and mental exercise, all with a fun camp theme inspired by Brian’s childhood summers spent at Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo.

The theme is not only obvious through the terminology — dogs are “campers,” the staff are “counselors” and there is even a “camp barber” to take care of grooming needs — but also through the décor. A directional sign out front of Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital mimics Camp Mondamin’s own sign; chalk boards inside the camp list the names of campers and the daily schedule; and rustic wood benches and a desk built of antique wood compliment the camp drop-off area. Such details are a testimony to the Birthrights’ creative approach to the dog camp, but, more importantly, they reassure pet owners that their dog is in good hands.

“The dogs have a camp counselor with them at all times,” said Kate, who explained what a typical day was like for the campers.

Dogs are dropped off by their owners between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., and the morning kicks off at 8 a.m. with an open play session until 10 a.m. Individual enrichment follows, allowing dogs to receive attention from counselors who have been trained by Kim Brophy, who is nationally and internationally certified in dog behavior.

“During this one-on-one time, the dog benefits from intentional mental stimulation,” said Kate, who added that the counselors use puzzles and games to promote this guided playtime.

Following the enrichment period, it is naptime for the campers. Dog owners who choose to drop off their dog for a half-day session may then pick up their pet; full-day campers repeat the morning schedule until 5 to 6:30 p.m. when the camp closes.

Because the dogs have the freedom to play inside and outside, with divided areas that separate larger and smaller dogs, the campers get to know other canines in a safe environment — meaning they can build positive relationships with each other.

“It’s all business in the front [of the hospital], and it’s a party in the back,” Brian said. “We’re providing a place where dogs can have fun.”

Those who are interested in registering a dog for day camp can fill out a camper profile form online at www.mapletreevet.com. An interview, or temperament test, must then be scheduled to introduce the dog to the camp routine. After the interview, the dog may then come to camp. A full day of camp begins at $28, and five-, 10- and 20-day passes are also available.

The Birthrights also invite the community to join them for a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 and for an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Meet the staff of the dog camp as well as the Maple Tree Veterinary Hospital (which is an American Animal Hospital Association accredited facility), take a tour of the camp, and even get your pet’s picture made with Santa. A $10 donation helps pets in need of medical care, and you will receive one 5x7 photo taken by professional photographers PVP Studios. Christmas cards using the photo will be available to order.

In addition, trainer Brophy will give a free seminar about dog behavior in the 21st century at 7 p.m. Jan. 2. The seminar will have limited seating, so RSVP by Dec. 20 to kbirthright@mapletreevet.com.

For more information about the dog camp or the upcoming events, visit www.mapletreevet.com or call 246-9770.