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Dog Scouts of America: Dogs are Not Furniture!

By Suzanne Alicie

If you’re a dog lover, there is an organization you simply must check out. I was astounded to realize that we don’t just have Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations, there’s also a Dog Scouts of America (DSA). The Boy Scout and Girl Scout motto is: “Be Prepared!” The Dog Scouts of America’s motto is:

“Our dog’s lives are much shorter than ours – let’s help them enjoy their time with us as much as we can.”

Doesn’t that tell you something wonderful about this non-profit organization that is dedicated to enriching the lives of both dog lovers and dogs?

The founder of DSA, Lonnie Olson, believes that dogs were not meant to be “furniture” or accessories, and that they enjoy learning new things and spending time with their owners. Without a way to work out all the natural energy dogs have, they may get in trouble, be destructive and even develop health problems. The DSA is meant to bring people and their dogs closer together, to teach them to communicate with one another, and to challenge them to learn and do something new and different while working together to improve their communities.

CANIDAE loves the idea that the DSA promotes responsible pet ownership. Through their many publications including free articles, brochures, a manual and newsletter as well as their website, the main theme is being a responsible pet owner and community member. Dog lovers will find many community enrichment ideas, various sporting events and activities, and training information via the DSA.

Lonnie and the DSA want people to stop thinking of dogs as being disposable and recognize the innate intelligence, comfort, companionship and responsibility that are involved with owning a dog, or rather being owned BY a dog. The DSA holds yearly scouting camps where people and dogs come together to learn interactive skills and have a great time together.

Scout Camp includes backpacking, water rescue and flyball, as well as other training topics like agility, herding, tracking, sledding, weigh pulling and lots of other sports and activities that dogs naturally excel in. These activities are a fun and healthy way for dogs and their owners to spend time together. Here at the RPO blog and CANIDAE, we know several dogs that do these things and more; we call them our Special Achievers.

While the DSA benefits dogs, it is also a huge benefit to dog owners as it helps teach leadership training that can help promote responsible pet ownership and community interest in your area. The DSA encourages pet owners and DSA members to work with their local communities to create more dog parks, to teach community members about humane treatment of dogs and to help others realize what an important part of your life a dog can be.

Some of the things DSA members have done for the community include participating in charity walks, raising money for PAWS, working with local humane societies, charity races and community clean ups as well as therapy visits to hospitals and nursing homes.

Owners and dogs are awarded merit badges for learning and training achievements. When a particular skill is mastered the owner will receive a certificate and a patch. The DSA also awards dog owners who show consistent and repeated effort to teach and work within the community to promote humane dog care.

To become a Dog Scout, your dog doesn’t have to do anything except be well mannered and non-aggressive towards both humans and other dogs. As a dog owner you must pass a test proving that you are a responsible dog owner before your dog will be accepted into the Scouts. You don’t have to be a dog owner to support the DSA either! Visit the wonderful Dog Scouts of America website to learn more about this great organization and find out how you can help promote responsible pet ownership and improve your community.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie
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