114 shifts later, and approximately five months of employment at Camp Bow Wow Boulder, I have found an undying love, appreciation, understanding, and awareness for the incredible four-legged animals who have been deemed “Man’s Best Friend.” Some may call me obsessed, and others may not even understand my enthusiasm for these creatures, but every day I find myself more and more humbled by dogs. Big or small, lazy or crazy, I love them all – I do not discriminate against dogs! It does not matter their breed or their age; they all have infinite amounts of love, among other many gifts, to contribute to this world.
As I have mentioned time and time again, working at Camp Bow Wow Boulder, as a Camp Counselor, has quite literally changed my world in so many ways, in the best way possible. My job as a “Camp Counselor” includes job duties that require direct interaction and direct involvement with the campers, or dogs, that are either boarding or are attending day-care. My job sounds simplistic and can be boiled down to “taking care of the dogs by keeping them happy, preventing any dog fights, picking up the dog poop, and keeping all them healthy.” The concept is quite simple, but in reality, managing the 30-40 dogs in your 200 square foot play yards, including both the outside play yard and indoor play yard, is much difficult than one would imagine. It is incredibly important to be overtly observant and be knowledgeable about all the dogs in your play yard, no matter how many dogs are occupying your play yard. So much can happen, especially with such sensitive, emotional, and joyous creatures, and many situations require that you are quick on your feet, or a quick reaction time. In a blink of a second, two dogs, or even more dogs, can go from playing roughly to engaging in a full-out dog fight. While most of these “bad situations” are generally preventable, as we can put dogs into a “time-out,” not every bad situation can be prevented. As a result, it is incredibly for the person mandating and overlooking their play yard to be aware of their surroundings, to be knowledgeable on how to react the most efficiently and most effectively, the dogs they are dealing with, the personalities of the dogs, and to be fully attentive when in taking care of these gentle and friendly creatures. When “bad situations” occur, it is incredibly important that one reacts to the best of the ability, all while taking into account the best way to react in order to ensure the safety of the other dogs and to ensure that they react in a way that also ensures the safety of yourself.
While my job is a dream and I love it more than I could ever put into words, the job is hazardous and working with so many dogs of different sizes, weights, personalities, etc., is a quick way to collect bruises, injuries, scars, and stitches. In such a playful and unpredictable environment, it is impossible to avoid injuries. In fact, if I can leave work with only 4-6 bruises, it is a good day, or a rather safe day. On the more exciting days, I expect to be covered from head-to-toe in bruises, quite literally. Last week, my fellow friends wanted to show me some love and could not seem to contain their excitement, which led to a very bruised face. My first bruise was across the bridge of my nose, as Leah and I miscommunicated how we were going to great each other, and as I slowly lowered my head down towards her face, she seemingly decided to jump up to greet me. Instead of moving my head away from her face, I naturally moved it towards her face, in which I felt and the force of her 140 lb. body, and then some, make a very loud sound when she made contact with the bridge of my nose. before my coworker could even ask if I was okay, the bridge of my nose immediately bruised without question. I answered honestly, stating that I was not okay, as tears began pouring out of my left eye without my own consent. Later that day, I was graced with another serious bruise on my chin for the very same reason, but instead of further hurting my nose, my chin decided to take the beating. At this point, I do not remember which dog gave me that specific bruise, but I can say that it hurt for certain and that the dog was fairly large. The bruise on my chin was very colorful, turning into shades of dark blue and dark purple. The dark purple part of the bruise was located perfectly in middle of the otherwise blue bruise, and my chin stayed this color two weeks later.
My face hurt so bad, I could not even sniffle with my nose or place my hand under my chin without shedding a fairly small tear.
Despite the bruises and scratches, I still am able to overlook these miscommunications, as I know that these physical injuries are not of malicious intent and they seemingly hurt far less than any emotional hurt that I have endured.
There is never a shortage of four-legged friends in my life lately and I just cannot get enough.
Every day that I continue to live, I find myself filling the voids in my life with the best kind of love and affection that I can find in and around the Boulder County area.
Having incurred a lot of loss, pain, and suffering, as a result of being lost and unsure of myself, I have a lot of “black holes” that I could not seem to fill up no matter what I tried, but this kind of pure, raw, and genuine love that these animals exude has slowly, or rather quickly, managed to patch up the voids that I have been attempting to mask with more hate than love, which has allowed to me to incur a healing process that is completely unique, and most importantly, a healing process that is completely based on love.
After being employed by Camp Bow Wow Boulder for only five months, I have met over 500 dogs in and around the Boulder County area. Every single one of these dogs that I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know, even if it is on an acquaintance basis, has taught me something and has allowed me to heal, a concept that was unfamiliar to me. In fact, the concept of healing, or attempting to alleviate certain symptoms I experience, as a result of my own diagnoses, seemed like a completely impossible task five months ago. Some of my symptoms were so horrifying and excruciatingly painful to endure, and while I did not quit or give up, I spent a lot of time frustrated, questioning myself, self-medicating, engaging in negative coping mechanism skills, experimenting with coping mechanisms, engaging in positive coping mechanism skills, and most importantly, pretending like I was ok. Pretending like I was not struggling was surprisingly much more tiresome and much more difficult to execute. It was extremely stressful, and I have the veins on the sides of my temples to prove it. I had many days that I was able to successfully fool everyone around me, but I also had a handful of days where I was not able to successfully execute my one mission of my daily routines, which was to outwardly appear as though I was not completely lost, completely confused, completely in pain, etc.
These dogs have taught me that you can run and you can hide, but one day, “they,” whether it be your anxiety, your personality, your genuine self, or the truth, will come find you. Instead of prolonging the process, expose your true self. Or, I have even learned that placing more importance on embracing yourself, including your mood, your personality, etc. rather than placing more importance on attempting to be “liked,” or “mold into the person that you feel as though people will respond the best to,” has actually been far more productive and healthier than attempting to mask yourself completely. People, and even dogs, respond better to you when you are simply honest, in every sense of the word. While humans are extremely receptive creatures, it is outstanding to witness how receptive dogs are to you, even if you may be a complete stranger to them. It is equally outstanding to witness how simple of creatures dogs are, and how much joy a simple action, such as petting them, letting them lick your face, or even calling their name, brings them. As a human, or even as a Camp Counselor, these actions are fairly basic things and we barely think much of them, as petting the dogs and knowing all the dogs names in your dog yard are all part of your job requirement, but to these creatures, these small actions could make their day, or be the reason why they are shaking their hips, wagging their tails, and smiling at you.
Taking care of animals has allowed me to allow the power of love to assist in my lengthy healing process. Beyond this, I have not felt this much gratification from a job before.
The best feeling in the world is seeing a dog return to their owner, or the “Pet Parent,” happy, healthy, and with no worries in the world. It is equally as gratifying to know how appreciative the “Pet Parents” are for our service, in which they often bring us food, treats, and snacks. They even will send us holiday and “Thank You” cards!
I love my job for more than the money, and this kind of feeling is extremely amazing.
• I CANNOT QUIT DOGS AND I WILL NEVER QUIT DOGS •
Sometimes, I truly believe that dogs continue to perform LOVE’s work through them, as they continue to grace our tainted world with the things that our world seemingly seems to lack.
While humans continue to fight, with no concrete purpose, which only divides our world from each other, dogs continue to provide our world with the virtues and morals that we pretend to uphold, which continues to unify humans beings, whether we realize it or not.
The definition of dog in the dictionary should be as follows, “everything good, and then some more.” The “some more” part of their existence is often not even asked of them, but they continue to perform good simply because it is in their nature and they simply cannot help it.
My biggest heroes and my biggest role models are mostly of the dog variety, and I am not afraid to say that.
Besides their love, affection, and pure genuine nature, my favorite quality about dogs is their loyalty to people. It is incredible to witness their loyalty to their people, and the amount of effort and energy they exert in order to simply make you happy and to simply attempt to protect you. They have simply restored faith in me that there is still good left in the world, even if I cannot be the “good” within the world.
The only question that I cannot seem to answer is WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?!
Can someone please tell me WHO LET THE DOGS OUT? I will not be upset. I just need to know. Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. As Summer approaches closely behind the scorching warm weather, my photo galleries of the dogs will showcase our “dog pools,” which we have so that the dogs can stay cool despite the weather, as well as provide a fun entertainment for them.
Many of the dogs are not sure what these pools are, as many of them are either too scared to get in, hate water, think that it is an oversized water bowl, etc. Thus far, the Golden Retrievers all collectively have found JOY IN A “POOL-Y” PLACE.
Stay tuned for more galleries of some of my favorite furry friends!