E358: A Look at FDSA Training Camp!

Ever wondered what to expect at our annual in-person event? This week we'll hear from several people who have attended multiple events about what they love and why they keep coming back. 


Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau, and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast, brought to you by the Fenzi Dog. Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high quality instruction for competitive dog sports, using only the most current and progressive training methods. Today's episode is a bit different than our typical episode. We're gonna talk to a few folks about FDSA Training Camp.

This year's camp is in Wilmington, Ohio, October fourth through sixth. And first up, we're gonna chat a bit with Denise Fenzi. Hi Denise. Welcome back to the podcast!

Denise Fenzi: Hey Melissa. How you doing?

Melissa Breau: I'm doing all right. How about yourself?

Melissa Breau: Pretty good. Do you wanna start us off maybe by talking a bit about why FDSA organized the first Training Camp and what you feel maybe it adds to have an in-person event for an online school?

The first one, because I was young and silly and didn't really know how much work it was about to be, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. And now like everyone that's code for, oh my God, get out of the room, or another one is I have an idea that's a good reason to panic and run.

I've gotten a little more restrained as time goes by, but at that first one we just, I think we whipped it together in three months and I don't even remember who said, oh, you should do a camp. And it was like, oh yeah, okay. And then there it was a weekend later. So that's how it happened with that much forethought and logic and planning and then we ran with it.

So that's how the first one happened. Why did it happen? I have no idea. Like I said, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. I know why it happened in years going forward because it was an incredible experience to see so many people come together and put names to faces.

And the camaraderie was just through the roof, which is really, I think the thing that distinguishes our event from many, many, many events is the degree to which there's comradery and friendships develop. So the reason we keep doing it is I can't walk away from that.

I can't walk away from that in-person opportunity to allow people to experience how awesome it is to be around relatively like-minded people who want to be with dogs, love dogs, and are passionate about dogs. Dogs. And that's why we continue.

Melissa Breau: Do you have a favorite part of camp or favorite memory from our previous year's events?

Denise Fenzi: Yeah, so the one that stands out for me kind of epitomizes why I love camp so much. It was probably about the third camp, maybe four. And I was teaching a lab and there a lab, not a Labrador teaching, I was at a workshop and there was a person in there who was struggling terribly, terribly with her dog. The dog was just so shut down and having such a hard time, she really could barely get the dog in the building. And I think it was the second day of camp when I had her and I have never seen a group of people.

So obviously we united in wishing that woman well and you could feel how hard they were willing that dog to be successful and internally cheering for this person who did succeed with that dog by the end of the weekend and was in tears and so was everyone else. And that stood with me because if there's one thing I've noticed about camp, it's that people support the underdog.

Like there's nobody's business. Like people used to send me notes saying, I'm so scared to come to camp. I took a working spot and now I'm gonna be a fool. And I said it the first year, but now I can. I knew it because I just know the students. But now I can say with authority, I guarantee you, if you are the underdog, you will never feel so much support and love in your entire life because people want you to be successful and they identify with the struggles of the person who showed up anyway, put themselves out there even though it was hard and did the thing. And so I guess that particular woman with that particular dog, it epitomizes what I value so much about camp and the way the students come together at that particular event.

Melissa Breau: Can you talk just a little bit about how Camp works for people who maybe are less familiar with it or haven't been?

Denise Fenzi: Yeah, you would think it's a complete zoo, but the folks who organize it, Teri and you and me and Amy work really, really hard to create an event that's actually logical. It's three days of six tracks. So that means that any given op time, you could be in one of six different sessions.

Some of the sessions, most of the sessions are working. So dogs are working with their handlers and with the instructor, some of the sessions are just labs where they're all lecture and talking, but you have endless choices to go watch what really interests you. So it doesn't matter that much if your interest is behavior or obedience or rally or agility or you just are really fascinated by dogs and dog behavior and wanna be in a place with others.

There are things to watch and do. So you basically don't have to sign up if you're an auditor, you just show up, well, you have to sign up for camp, but you show up and then you look at the schedule and you can decide what you wanna see at any given occasion. So that's how it works for the auditors. The workers do pick their labs in advance and they work two out of four of the sessions each day.

Usually that's plenty and they're exhausted by the end, so it works out just about right. Yeah, it's a lot to ask of a dog for three days. It really Is. Yeah, it really is. I know one of the things that sometimes frustrates folks who are, you know, considering camp for the first time or haven't been before, is the requirement for working spots to have a certain number of classes before they can qualify for Working Spot.

Melissa Breau: Can you talk a little bit about, you know, how, why, you know basically where that came from and why it exists? Yeah. You can learn an awful lot online. I mean, I wouldn't have a school devoted to that if I didn't believe that. However, as you progress in your training and as you are refining things, it can sometimes be incredibly valuable to have somebody walk up, pick up your hand, place it in a certain place, and give you a tiny correction in real time.

And the purpose of camp is to support our student base. These are already people who have our foundation skills. Like I don't have to explain what a pivot disc is or how to use it. Most of the time, by the time somebody shows up in a given lab, they're pretty familiar with the topic. So it's really a matter of refining the details, connecting, noticing small things that might matter. Like, oh by the way, I noticed that your dog drops its head a lot to the left. Do you want me to help you with that? Like you can do things that are just completely off script that really benefit people who understand what you're talking about.

They share your vocabulary. It's a matter of touching the right people at the right time. And I think our, let's call them more sophisticated users, because they've taken so many classes with us are in a better place to benefit from Camp. And also for the auditors it improves the quality of the experience because you're going to see an incredible range of skills in any given lab.

So in a play lab, you're gonna see everything from dogs that don't have a clue to dogs who've been through all the classes and just need the smallest bit of tweaking. So I think it makes it a much more interesting experience than everybody kind of standing around saying, I don't understand. What am I gonna do with this toy? What, why am I doing this?

They get all that. The foundation is there, now we're gonna apply it at a more sophisticated level. So working spots did sell out to super users again this year, but we allow an A limited number of creating spots for auditors.

Melissa Breau: Can you talk a little bit about what somebody should consider if they're thinking of bringing their dog along to camp?

Denise Fenzi: The big one is if you bring your dog, then you need to be responsible for your dog. And we're pretty strict about a peaceful crate area. And the reason we're strict is because it allows all the dogs to rest and sleep. We actually have monitors in the crate area. We have each person's phone number on the top of their crate. And if your dog is struggling, you will be called back to help your dog settle.

This isn't just about your dog. If one dog is distressed in the crate area, things can pretty quickly unravel. And then the next thing you know the whole area is in, you know, up in arms. That does not happen at FDSA Camp. You could drop a pin in the middle of the crate area and you will observe a whole lot of quiet, peaceful dogs.

We wanna keep it that way. So the most important thing, if you're an auditor, first from the dog's point of view, this isn't the place to find out if your dog can crate quietly for three days, for eight, 10 hours a day. It is a long intense day for your dog. One assumes that you have had a lot of experience somehow, whether at dog events, dog training classes or whatever, and you know that your dog can create quietly because nothing is gonna be quite so frustrating to you as to show up in camp.

You wanna attend auditing slots, you wanna watch, you wanna learn, and you keep getting called back to your dog. That's gonna make you very unhappy and frustrated. And it's not your dog's fault.

If you've taken your dog to an experience that they're not ready for, then that's how you're gonna spend all your time and you're gonna be kind of frustrated. We don't want that to happen. So the most important thing your dog should be able to crate very quietly.

The second question you might wanna ask is, why are you bringing your dog? The pragmatic answer is a lot of people are like, I don't have a choice. I don't have anybody at home to take care of my dog. Hey, that's legitimate, right? But be aware that from the dog's point of view, it's probably not a lot of fun. It's not like it's a big old dog park or something. Your dog spends most of their time in a crate, then they're gonna come out with you and they get a little bit of exercise and maybe at lunch and all your responsibility is way higher to your dog.

So these are things to think about and to know, when I audit an event with my dog, I do choose to work my dog at breaks and at lunch. And you can do that as long as you're not disruptive. You can certainly observe what you saw in a lab and give it a shot. You know, that's a wonderful opportunity for you.

But do know that those are in between the actual events and you might, you might wanna think about that if you have a choice. If you don't have a choice, then you have to decide if your dog is suitable for the environment. So I think that's kind of what I'd be thinking about. The last event I attended was a week or two ago with Julie Flanery.

I had both dogs with me. I was working one dog continuously. And as soon as my husband showed up, I handed the second dog off to him and sent him home because for three days, Brito would not have had a good time being crated. The first day was not optional, but I can tell you as an experienced auditor with him without dogs, it was much more peaceful for me when I didn't have to be thinking about pottying dogs, feeding dogs, getting them out, keeping them quiet.

So yeah, that's, that's what I would be thinking about. At least this year. It's October in Ohio, so like the weather's not terrible if someone needs to car crate, right? Like that is an option, but yeah. Oh, absolutely. If your dog is comfortable car crating, and I think many of our dogs are, and you have an appropriate setup with your tailgate up and you can use appropriate mesh, these are all absolutely legitimate options.

Melissa Breau: So if you had one word of advice or a piece of advice for somebody considering attending for the first time, or maybe they've signed up and now they're going, oh goodness, what did I get myself into? What would it be?

Denise Fenzi: Go if you can go to camp, if you are close enough to make your way there, if you're far away and you can do it, I will tell you people are so glad they went, go alone. Don't worry about it.

Oh, I can't go by myself. Oh yes, you can. Within an hour you will be adopted. It's not the kind of an event where people are sitting alone, they're not, they will be picked up, they will be pulled in unless you want to be sitting alone. You will find yourself surrounded by interested people who want to know who you are, who want you to be there.

It's an event that's so much more than the educational opportunity. It is. It is about community that is huge, huge in my world, is making a community. And I find that when camp is over, people are so high, so excited, all they can talk about is when are we gonna do this again?

Because this is how I want to spend my time, this is why I'm in the dog world. Just go and don't worry about what might go wrong and all. If you can attend, we want you to be there.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Any final thoughts or key points you wanna leave listeners with?

Denise Fenzi: No, I'm excited to meet you. I'll greet you at the door and we'll have a wonderful time together.

Melissa Breau: Fantastic. Well thank you for making time to come back on the podcast, Denise.

Denise Fenzi: Thank you Melissa. Next up we have Esther Zimmerman. Hi Esther, welcome to the podcast!

Esther Zimmerman: Hi Melissa. Thanks so much for having me. I'm super excited to chat about camp today.

Melissa Breau: But before we jump in, do you wanna just share a little bit about your training background, kinda what sports you compete in and maybe what led you to FDSA?

Esther Zimmerman: Sure. So I have been competing in AKC obedience trial since 1976. It's a very, very long time. It's coming up on 50 years, so I'm old.

Melissa Breau: Congratulations. 50 years is a milestone.

Esther Zimmerman: That's right. And I just turned 70, so there we are. So I've been competing nonstop since 1976.

I do competition obedience. I do NACSW nosework. I do a little bit of Rally. I've dabbled in some other activities, but not with any real interest. Agility doesn't speak to me, Flyball doesn't speak to me. They're too noisy, too much wrong around for my taste. So AKC obedience is my main thing. I've been competing all those years.

I've been a competition instructor since the early 1980s. And I am an AKC Obedience judge, approved for all classes. And I do love judging. It's hard work, but I love it. And that's my giving back a lot to the sport that's given me so much. My current dogs I have, I've unfortunately lost two competition dogs within nine months of each other.

Last year at ages six and seven, one of my Schipperkes and my Golden Retriever. So now I have Flyer who's my two and a half year old Border Collie. Yes, I got a Border Collie and I just got a baby Schipperke puppy. His name is Izzy and he's very cute, he's very handsome. He has a tail. He came from Europe so he has a tail, which doesn't happen often in the States, but I didn't want another dog with a docked tail.

So he's full of it and he's confident and outgoing and so far loves everybody and everything. So I'm pretty happy in the four days that I've had. And I found FDSA before there was an FDSA, Denise came to do a seminar at my training facility, which I attended.

And well, everybody that knows her, knows her personality gets you hooked on it immediately. I mean, the enthusiasm, the level of commitment to everything, the positive outlook on everything just spoke to me. 'cause I had already made the transition from being a quasi traditional trainer to a really positive trainer and she just validated everything that I was doing and gave me additional tools to apply to what I was already doing.

So that's how I found FDSA. And I took an online class with Denise before there was an FDSA when she was doing them for, what was the name of the agility? Agility University. Is that it? Yes. Yeah. Yes, yes. She did an engagement in play with your D personal play with your dog class. That was the first class I took with her before FDSA.

And I've been taking, you know, it's funny, registration is for camp. You need more than 10 classes. At least 15 people could register off of the number of classes. I, because in very few semesters that I missed taking a class.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So speaking of camp, how many times have you, have you made it out to camp so far?

Esther Zimmerman: I've only made it to camp twice. Travel's hard sometimes. So I was in Ohio where we're going again this year at the fabulous Robert Center. Oh my God, my friend Ellen and I did a road trip. She took her Labrador. I took my Golden Retriever and we did a road trip out to Ohio and had just the best time, really just the best time.

And then Pennsylvania, because I'm an instructor here at Masterpiece Dog Training, I talked, I think something like 18 people that train here came to camp because I said they needed to go to camp. And somewhere floating around is a group picture of everybody from here with Denise. And it's a big group picture.

Melissa Breau: That's Awesome.

Esther Zimmerman: It was very, very awesome.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Did you, did you do working spots both times? Yes. Yes I did. What I tried to do was take in-person, I tried two things. I tried to take in-person classes if an instructor was doing something specific to what I felt I needed for that dog. And if I wanted to try an instructor that I had no prior experience with.

So as an experiment, because you can't take everything from everybody. And I thought that would be a really, really good way to find out if we were a fit or not, because so many excellent instructors, but they're not for every person. So the more we know about them, the better we will, the higher our satisfaction level will be when we're taking classes too.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. And sometimes it's just invaluable to get that in-person feedback with an instructor that maybe you have worked with before online or you know, like you said, it's a good chance to get to know somebody who you haven't met yet.

Esther Zimmerman: Yeah, so as I said, you know, so many of my students are FDSA students and when I know they're taking a class at a Gold spot, I always ask them, do you need to do some of your homework here? So we videotape it in the training center and I can give them in-person feedback because in all likelihood I've taken that class also at some point. And it helps in the moment to have that feedback.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. You're right about that. Yeah. Yep. Is there anything in particular that maybe stands out to you about camp that's led you to wanna come back?

Esther Zimmerman: Oh, the people. The people, the staff to a person are warm and encouraging and so willing to share their knowledge. They want everybody to be successful.

Yeah. You don't hear a negative word from anybody regardless of what happens. It's, yeah. If you need a boost of positive energy, there's no better place to get it. And every single person is just fabulous.

How Denise manages to accumulate so many great instructors and people. And over the years, because some have come, some have gone right, there's been some turnover. But to a person, they're just the best. Why would anybody not wanna go if you can possibly swing it? Yeah. Yeah. It's the people and then all the people that I'm friends with online on this, on the Alumni Group.

Yeah. Meeting people in person that you've only emailed with and messaged with. It's a kick. It's a real kick. And to see some of their dogs that you've only seen online, right. And you're like, oh my god, that's Molly and Ernie. Everybody knows Molly and Ernie. Right. Yeah. So that's, that's always, always the best. And hugs there. I'm a hugger, so most of the instructors are big huggers too. Amy's the best hugger ever.

Melissa Breau: I'm sure she'll feel very honored to hear that.

Esther Zimmerman: Yeah. Well she's, it's the play way, right? Yeah. It's the hug way.

Melissa Breau: I love that. Is there anything in particular that, you know, has kind of made an impact on like once you got back home in terms of like your training or your competing that you kinda learned at Camp? So because I've been doing this for so long, I'm a little bit set in my ways. So if somebody has given me a, not only for my own training, but as an instructor, if somebody's given me a tweak that I can apply for my students, if somebody's got a slightly different approach to dealing with that particular issue, I'm always looking for those nuggets of information.

Yeah. And it's, it's for me, again, because I think I come from a slightly different place than a lot of other people will be attending. I, you know, I'm not a newbie. I've been, I've gone to Clicker Expo, I've been to Camp, gone to the dog, I've been to APDT conferences, I've been to conferences and seminars for decades now. Right. And so I go looking for things for me. Other people may be intimidated by the whole process. Oh my God, I'm actually gonna work with Shade in person. Oh my God, what if I mess up?

Yeah, there's none of that. There's none of that. But as far as what I bring home, it's encouragement for me as an instructor. Validation for me as an instructor, expanding my repertoire of problem solving approaches to things. And for my own dogs. Yeah. Right. I do have things with my own dogs. You know, flyers, my first Border Collie, he's been an interesting journey. Okay.

And I've gotten so much good advice from so many people. And now I'm gonna have my puppy, he'll be nine months old for Camp. That's gonna be another whole new thing. So Exciting. So I'm sure at that age I'll be looking for input on specific training things for myself with my own dog.

Melissa Breau: Yeah.

Esther Zimmerman: Sometimes you just need that outside perspective no matter how much experience you have. Totally, totally. And it's hard for me to find classes that are worth my time and effort in my own area. Everybody comes to me, but who do I go to?

Melissa Breau: Yeah. Yeah. That's kind of hard.

Esther Zimmerman: And that's one of the reasons I take so many classes online. 'Cause I need access to knowledgeable people who train in the most positive or progressive methods, right? As you always say.

Melissa Breau: So if you were to offer words of advice to somebody considering attending you, they haven't signed up yet or they're still, they're still kind of on the fence, what would it be? If you can go, go, if you can swing it, by all means you will not regret it. Read the schedules and the description of what's being offered and make notes of who you're interested in and which time slots. If you're auditing, you can go to any of them, but don't overwhelm yourself either.

You don't have to go to something every single session. You can take time for yourself. If you're tired and you need to go take a nap, go take a nap. Don't overwhelm yourself, but make yourself available to new ideas, new experiences, new people. I'm a very outgoing and social person, so that's easy for me, but it's outside of the comfort zone for a lot of people. But go, don't be afraid. Nobody's gonna not be nice to you. Let's make that positive. Everybody will be very nice to you.

Yes. So be willing to put yourself outside your comfort zone a little bit. Yeah. I know that there are lots of people there who also maybe don't know a whole lot of other people, but you're all kind of coming at it from the same place, so.

Melissa Breau: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Esther Zimmerman: Yeah. And don't be afraid. Go up and talk to somebody if they look like they're lonely, would you like some company? Would you like somebody to come and sit and have lunch with you? Or they're going out with their dog and I walk with you? You know, that's a good way to get to know people too. Somebody is. So if I saw somebody else with a Schipperke there, I would wanna know that person. Right?

Right. So I would go, I have a Schipperke too. Can we go for a walk together? And the Robert Center is awesome for places to go walking with your dog. The fields are enormous and there are fenced in areas for people to let their dogs run. It's really, really gorgeous. And the hotel itself is really nice.

Melissa Breau: Yes, lovely. Really, really nice. Yeah.

Esther Zimmerman: Yeah. The rooms are… but that's what I would say, if you can go, go push yourself outside of your comfort zone a little bit and be open to new people and new ideas.

Melissa Breau: I love it. Alright, well thank you so much Esther, for coming on. I'm glad we got to chat a bit.

Esther Zimmerman: You're Welcome. You're welcome. I'm really excited about it. I'm looking forward to it. And I'll see you in October.

Melissa Breau: I look forward to meeting the puppy too. Okay, thank you. Take care. Talk to you soon. Please welcome Karen Deeds to the podcast. Hi Karen, welcome to the podcast!

Karen Deeds: It's great to be here. I'm excited to chit chat a little bit.

Melissa Breau: So to start us off, do you wanna just share a little bit about your training background, kinda what sports you play in and what led you to FDSA? What led me to FDSA was that I got into sports. Prior to that I wasn't, and prior to that I was basically pet dog training. I did working dog stuff, search and rescue, service, hearing seizure response.

Did a lot of work with rescue groups, humane societies, but the majority of it was pet dogs. And then I got this little red head of a golden retriever who was kind of a little edgy thing. In fact, the first seminar I went to with Denise was in, oh, I'm gonna, probably 2012, maybe, something like that.

I don't know, it was a long time ago before Camps were even there. And I remember, I'm out there working with her and she says, you have a Ferrari. And I went, oh good god, I wanted a Chevy because I don't know how to drive a Ferrari. So we spent a good deal of time, you know, working on my footwork.

Anyway, so that's what led me into FDSA. And in fact, I'm not even sure that she had started FDSA when I saw her. She was just Denise Fenzi. Anyway, she was probably right about that time. I would think It was, I think it, it was right when that happened. So I feel like I was like on the ground floor.

It was real, it was actually quite amazing stuff too, to get to know her and, and to work under her and play under her that way. But, so that got me into the sports stuff. And I did Rally Obedience with my little golden and we ended up competing at the national level, what was it, 2017? We were 10th out of a hundred and like 60 dogs at Rally Nationals in Perry, Georgia. My first national.

And we probably placed in the top 20 or 30 every year that we went, which I think was four years. Went to Golden Nationals a couple times, did some of the big stuff. Was probably the first one to get a rock in Texas, although that wasn't, that's not confirmed because nobody was really keeping track. But anyway, and I lost her May 23rd two years ago. So it's been almost two years. And I miss her still.

But she was my only sport dog. My husband did a little, he dabbled a little bit in bite sports. And that kind of got me into working with Shade. Of course I would, Sara Breuske, Hannah Branigan when she was around Sarah Stremming when she was around, I used to go to all the really cool, the cool kids seminars. Right.

And of course Denise when Denise was doing seminars. But I just, I mean, I was a seminar junkie and I even ended up with a little, had a spaniel for a little while and, and he didn't work out. And he was my first real toy dog.

And then I got the crazy kid that I have now that I do some, some disc with. So he's a Border Collie mix and he's definitely a toy dog. And so anyway, that's I, but really what got me after sports, 'cause like I say, I'm not competing at all anymore, but I've taken all the stuff that I've learned from pet dogs, shelter dogs, working dogs, sport dogs. And I've applied it to behavior dogs.

And really that's why I hang around with FDSA. 'Cause I don't know, there's some pretty cool kids around there and, and I've learned so much about new things that I think benefit the behavior world that I don't see the normal, I don't see it really talked about at the behavior conferences anymore.

It's, I don't wanna say it's still the same old, same old, but, but anyway, I think it just brings a lot more depth into behavior knowledge. When you look at it from a, and I even talk about this in my webinar that's coming up in 10 days about Reactive Integration. And it's like looking at it at dog behavior from a different lens.

And anyway, so I don't do sports, but what's ironic is I'm actually getting ready to go to Texas for a month and I'm doing two seminars. And one of 'em is for a bunch of agility people. I have never in my life done agility, but they're having some behavior and arousal issues. So they are bringing me in and then I'm working with a bunch of people that have.

Jesus. I don't, I don't even know I got a UD maybe did I? I barely, I, no, I, I think I only got two legs of a UD. So that's like way outta my league. But yet again, the knowledge that comes from working with behavior and sport dogs, it's very intertwined.

And so anyway, so I'm gonna be working with a bunch of sport people and I love the sport people. I think they're probably more dedicated to their dogs than a lot of others. And it's really hard sometimes to find pet dog people that wanna kind of geek out. And so, you know, I don't, I don't have to geek out. I just want to. So anyway, that's me.

Melissa Breua: Fair enough, fair enough. So to chat about Camp for a few minutes, when was the first Camp you attended? Did you attend it? Tell me about It.

Karen Deeds: I went to the very original Ferret Palooza in Pennsylvania.

Melissa Breau: Okay. So I'm not sure everybody listening to this will know what Ferret Palooza means. You're gonna have to go a little bit of background.

Karen Deeds: Okay. So this was, so we all know who Denise is, right? And she kind of earned this little nickname of, she's a ferret, she never stops moving. Constant go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. So she came up with this idea and I swear to God she put it together in like two or three months.

I don't know how the heaven's name, she did it. But you know, she put it out there. And lo and behold, I drove three days by myself with my little redhead. My husband was supposed to join me, but he was doing this thing called, oh, I don't know, a federal deployment doing search and rescue and search and recovery after a huge flood down in Texas.

So I drove by myself and I think I made it in two or three days as a heck of a drive. But it was the very original Fenzi camp. We called it Ferret Palooza. Shade. Oh God, Nancy Little, oh my, oh, love Nancy. She, she probably, oh, just loved working with Nancy, love working with all of them.

But anyway, so I drove to Pennsylvania and I drove back by myself. And on the way home I swung through Ohio, picked up a dog that ended up being a dog that went on to do conservation work in Africa for Rhinoceros Oh, corn. Oh, cool. In Elephant Ivory. Yeah, I have a scar from her. So I think everybody who handled Sarah has a Sarah scar.

'Cause she would grab the toys and grab on. But anyway, so that was Ferret Palooza and I think it was three days. It was in a relatively small facility in comparison to where we go now. I think it was called the Canine Gym or something like that. And it was hot and it was muggy and it was so fun. There was one bathroom, one bathroom, we had one bathroom.

I think people were going out behind the trees and taking tinkles. Anyway, it was just to die for it. And I don't even think we had a host hotel or anything like that. I don't, I don't remember. That's 2015, the very first one. Yeah. Went there.

Melissa Breau: That's awesome. Been there, done that. And how many times have you been back to Camp now? Two more with my dog. I went to Purina Farms, I think that was 2016. And then I think 2017 was in Oregon, I think. And I flew to that one and I volunteered and I was kind of a volunteer for Shade Whitesel.

Man, it doesn't get any better. I, if I had to choose who to pick from, I couldn't. If I were to ghost somebody or not ghost her, but follow somebody, shadow somebody, I don't know. you'd learn so much from all of 'em.

That's what's so fabulous in my opinion about FDSA is that everybody is just so gracious, so knowledgeable, so humble, so giving. And anyway, so I was with Shade and I think Shade had Onesie there and so I got to take care of Onesie every now and then. Anyway, so the, I did that and I stayed there in the host hotel. You know, we had the, the get togethers in the evenings, the gatherings, the, oh my God, it was just, just the best. And then I went to one more, I think in Ohio. So I went to four, I think 15, 16, 17, 18. I don't think I may met 19, I don't remember. I went to four and then 2020, of course, yeah, I've been there four times. 2020 hit.

And yeah, that was Covid. And we didn't do that. And I don't think we did 21. I don't know. Did you do 22? I don't remember. I don't remember either right now. I don't think you did. I, we did 2023. Yeah, I don't think we, I don't think we did 20. I don't remember.

And of course my a good question, like I say my sport dog at that point was retired. She'd already lost one leg. So obviously I wasn't competing with her anymore. After 2020, I literally came back from Rally Nationals December of 2020. I had major foot reconstruction surgery. The week after I got back. A month later I found a lump on her elbow and three weeks later she had three legs.

And then 15 months later she was gone. But, so obviously I didn't have a sport dog. I had goof tar, my Border Collie mix that I do Frisbee with and who really is a lot of fun. But I'm old and fat and have bad knees. And so I just play around with him. I'm sure if somebody were to really work with him, he'd be a pretty killer just dog. But he's mine, he's a handful. He actually could have been a FEMA dog because of his drive and his nerve strength. But he has major handling issues. So he's mine. I play with him. He's fun. And I'm really excited about being able to go to Camp this year. Even without a dog.

I mean, you don't have to have a dog to have fun. You don't have to have a dog to learn. There is so much there. And what I love about it so much is that everybody is, I don't wanna say everybody's your friend, but everybody is there to support you. Gosh, just the comradery and he accolades.

I mean they, they watch you. I had so many people would come up and say, I just love watching you and your little redhead and you know, people would come up. And I remember I, she had a, I wanna say she had a really unusual breed. It was, oh my god. Shiba Inu. And I remember watching her with her little Shiba and she was doing some amazing stuff and I hunted her down and I said, I just wanted to tell you, you are such a joy to watch with your Shiba.

We have been friends ever since. We've been Facebook friends ever since. Cool gal. And I'm sure she's still competing with her Shibas. But anyway, I could go on and on. Could you tell…?

Melissa Breau: It's clear why you're coming back? Do you have a favorite part of Camp?

Camp? Just the whole, just all of it, huh? Just all of it. And it really, what I think the favorite part is the fact that everybody is there to be a support to each other. That's been my experience. And you know, it's grown certainly since the first time, the first camps I've been to. But everybody was there to support each other.

If you had a problem, all you had to do is ask and somebody would help. You know, the, obviously the classes are amazing. You get one-on-one attention and you learn from watching everybody else who's there, even watching a sport that you don't do. You might learn to want to do it. And there's just so much there. I don't even,

I haven't even looked at the roster or the agenda for what we're doing it now. This year I just, for this year, I'm like, oh my God, I don't know how I'm gonna divide my time. Because I guess I'll have to look at that at some point in time. But I'll be there anyway. Fair enough.

You already know you're going, so I mean, that's the important part, right? Absolutely. I am totally, I am totally going. So, and I'm gonna actually be teaching, so. Yay. That'll be fun.

Melissa Breau: That'll be fun. Yay. Speaking of, do you wanna talk a little bit about what you're looking forward to from that perspective? Maybe what you're talking about?

Karen Deeds: I'm doing one lecture, which is my Reactive Integration. And which of course I've got a webinar coming up in 10 days on Reactive Integration. And then I have a class that starts June one about Reactive Integration. And, and so I'm doing the lecture there. It's, there's no, no working spots or anything 'cause it's about reactivity.

So that's one of the things I'm doing. And I love it. I mean, and this is where I've kind of taken all the stuff that I've learned from the working dogs, from the shelter dogs, from the pet dogs, from the sport dogs. And I've integrated it, hence the name into kind of a program. But a lot of it is about understanding or knowing that there are multiple options.

You don't have to cookie cutter what this dog, what you do with every dog. Every dog is different. There are some dogs that, yep, they're just, they're not going to eat. So you have to look at a way to get the behavior or not get the reactivity that you need. There's just, there's just so many different options out there.

And that's kind of what Reactive Integration is about. And then my very favorite thing to teach is using multiple marker cues for behavior cases or for behavior, for changing behavior. And really and truly that's, that's whether it's a sport behavior or skill that you're trying to, to teach or if it's a behavior problem per se that you're trying to work through, just by using the way you reinforce your dog, you can change the dog dramatically.

Just by the way reinforcement happens. And I did a webinar on that last month, I think on the multiple marker system for behavior. And I love it. I just, I think it has made a, the biggest difference for all of my pet dog clients. And I think one of the biggest questions I get is, well, how do you get pet dog clients to do multiple markers?

And I'm like, it's really not that hard. You know, you just say, okay, we need to, we need to lower your dog's arousal and let's get 'em sniffing. How are we gonna get 'em sniffing? We're gonna put food on the ground. Well we need to get your dog a little excited.

I, you know, try to stay away from, you know, the dogs in law and all that too much. But you know, we need to get your dog a little bit up maybe just to get him moving. 'cause movement sometimes is relaxing for dogs. So let's start tossing food. So it's pretty easy and it's certainly easier for the dog because it's very clear.

It's like, oh, you say this word, I do that one thing. It does take a little bit more thought for the, the handler, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that's a really good thing because we don't want a cookie cutter our behavior cases, you know, so anyway, so I'm teaching multiple markers. I've got what, an hour and a half I think of session that is hour and a half. I don't even, I don't even know. 'cause I don't care. I'll teach it for as long as I can and as as many people as I can. And I can go full time. You got only half a day. Yeah, all the time. I got.

So anyway, those are the two things I'm doing. It's not, not a lot, but it's gonna be fun and, and then that gives me more time to schmooze with everybody else and to learn and watch and yeah, it's gonna be lots of fun. I like teaching part-time. It gives you plenty of time to go sit in other sessions and, and do other things.

Melissa Breau: Yes. So if you were to give kind of one word of advice to somebody who's maybe considering attending for the first time, or you know, they're kind of on the fence or maybe they've signed up, but they're just a little stuck on figuring out what they wanna do at camp this year, what would it be For somebody who's never been before and they're a little iffy, I would say audit. And of course at this point in time the working spots are all sold out anyway, so you don't have much choice.

Just go and watch, go watch and learn. And even if you've signed up to take a dog, and I hate to say this, but does it mean that you have to work your dog? Maybe you're not ready for that, but to encourage them to go just do it. I know that sounds, I I I don't, other than just telling 'em to do it, you won't regret it because you just won't regret it. Because if you take your dog, you don't have to put your dog into a situation they can't handle.

That just means, you know, be an advocate for your dog and say, okay, my dog can't do this right now. And then, you know, do something else. Go take it for a hike. 'cause I mean, we're in a, we're up in the, it's a pretty area. There's plenty of stuff to do up there. And so if nothing else, go enjoy your dog. If they can't be in the hotel room or in your camper or whatever and just chilling out on their own, then do something with them and then come back and go to somebody else's session or whatever.

But I just, there's gonna be enough people there to support even somebody like me, you know, while my dog can't be left alone, can you sit with my dog while I go to this session? You know, that's an option too. Now granted, that might not be the best option for your dog to be there,nbut I would imagine if your dog starts to stress out, there are gonna be people there that can help you out. There's just a lot of people that want to make it work for you and your dog. That's, you know, success. Yeah. You wanna set everybody up for success? I know our volunteers try really hard to make sure everybody's got all the support they could possibly need.

So Yes, yes. Yeah, I think, I think I had just as much fun, if not more as a volunteer. 'cause that's really when I first met you. Do you remember up in Oregon? You're behind the curtain back there and I'm going, you is this young girl…Oh my god. And, and, and I'm like, who is this little girl? No, I'm going and and I'm going, God, she's so smart when it comes to all this computer stuff and I'm just a dog trainer. But yeah, it was just, I mean it was, volunteering was just amazing stuff. That's a lot of fun. I cut off, don't, don't get me wrong.

I mean it was, and it was hot in Oregon. Oh my god. It was what was a hundred and it got over a hundred every day we were there. And I was actually setting up agility stuff. I don't do agility for god's sakes. I don't wanna do agility stuff, but I did anyway because that's what I was there for. But yeah, it was, it was just, there's just not another experience like it, I don't think, I mean, I don't think so either. I do dog, I do dog scouts, right? Boy scouts, girl scouts, dog scouts. And we have a camp and our troop is the biggest troop in the United States.

And we have a pretty nice camp, but it is nothing in comparison to this obviously. And the quality of participants at an FDSA camp talk about impressive people and impressive dogs. Not just because of impressive instructors, but everybody is just top notch. And even if they're just beginning, they're learning from the ground up how to be the best that they can be. Not everybody's perfect. I mean, my golden had our issues obviously, but we sure did.

We sure had fun. And we loved working with everybody we worked with and everybody was so encouraging. It was just a lot of fun. Not just fun. It was educational, it was hard work, don't get me wrong. And I've spent many a weekend in up in Ohio and the, the walk from the hotel room over to the center. Yeah, that's a walk. But anyway, it's not that. It's that's Okay. It's not, that's why the cool thing is if it's, if it's raining, I don't even have to go outside. It's nice. It's all covered. It's wonderful. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm excited that, you know, the time of year is kind of nice for this stuff too. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I wanna say the first one we went to in Pennsylvania, I wanna say that was in June Until the last couple years. They've all been, they've all been in May or June.

Yeah, That's what I thought. And I remember at Purina Farms when we were there, we had our travel trailer and we were flipping burgers and, and it was hot, but Pennsylvania was just hot and humid. Oh, good God. Like October will be nice. Oh, it'll be so nice. Yes. Yeah, because I'm not that far from Ohio now I'm only, I'm only eight hours away versus 16 that I used to be in Texas. Now that I'm in Tennessee, it's only eight hours. So easy, easy peasy, drive. Think so, I think I'm, I'm 10, so I think that makes you closer than me.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, Good stuff. Alright, well thank you so much for coming on to chat about camp Karen.

Karen Deeds: You're welcome. It was great. Thanks Melissa.

Melissa Breau: Thank you. Last but certainly not least, welcome Ashley Horan to the podcast. Hi Ashley, welcome to the podcast.

Ashley Horan: Hi Melissa. Thanks for having me. I'm super excited to chat a little bit today. So do you wanna maybe start us off by sharing a little bit about your training background, the sports you complet in, and maybe how you ended up at FDSA?

Yep, you bet. So I came here, I came to FDSA sort of by accident, and this was almost 10 years ago. I was not yet involved in any dog sports, but I work with dogs professionally and I was looking for some different handling and training techniques that were within the sort of positive reinforcement realm. And I took a couple of obedience classes with FDSA and never pursued that.

And then sort of accidentally did nosework and now almost 10 years later, I love competing in nose work. I am an apprentice judge now.

Melissa Breau: Very cool.

Ashley Horan: And it is super cool and it feels like it was a lifetime ago from, from before and to now. Yeah, That's really awesome though. I mean, I love hearing that people have come on such a journey, you know what I mean?

Melissa Breau: You said 10 years ago and before I hit record, we were talking a little bit about that time. So do you wanna talk a little bit about the first camp you attended and how you ended up joining us for camp? Oh my goodness. So I come from Canada and so it was a bit of an ordeal to get to the first Camp.

I booked my ticket to the wrong airport and I had to drive from Toronto because that was just a better option than rebooking my ticket. And I drove down not really knowing anyone and it was such a welcoming environment and it was so friendly and everyone was just as weird as I was. And so I felt like I fit right in and it was a very small venue.

It was really, there was a lot of crossover with the microphones, but everyone just made do. And I remember there was little teeny tiny whiteboard that the instructors were having helpers write on. Like, it was very, very small scale and really sort of adorable compared to where it is now, which is amazing.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, Yeah. How many times have you been to camp now?

Ashley Horan: All of them. I have been all of the times, however many that is. I've sort of lost count, but I went to the Ferret Palooza. That was my first experience I attended as an auditor and then the following and every year since I've been a volunteer.

Melissa Breau: That's fantastic. What, what stands out to you? What leads you to keep coming back?

Ashley Horan: Well, I work with dogs professionally and I work with the people that love them and sometimes that can kind of drain, drain the tank a little bit, you know. And so I come to Camp to refill my cups and feel excited about dogs again, surrounded by geeky dog, people who can talk geeky dog stuff. I look forward to it every single year because I know that I will leave with a much brighter perspective again. And, you know, ready to go, go tackle, go tackle my, my professional commitments again.

Melissa Breau: So kind of on that note, what do you feel like you kind of take away or what kind of impact has camp had on your training, your competing whatever after you kinda head home each year? I always come away with something new and it's some magic piece or new.

Sometimes it's something big, sometimes it's something that's, that's seemingly small. I am developing a love for other sports that I'm not yet competing in or really practicing in. So I'm sure that at some point I'll branch out to some other things just from seeing the different instructors at Camp. That's definitely a strength of Camp. Being able to like show up and do a little bit of sampler, you know what I mean? You'll try all the things. It's, it is, and you're not, you're getting a, you can kind of get like a sneak peek into all of these different sports all in one venue, which is super cool.

I don't know if that's something that you can do elsewhere. And it's with these world class competitors and you're surrounded by world class peers, some of these people are the best in their sport. Some of them are, are absolute beginners like I was. And so you get this really neat cross section of all of these different levels and attitudes and it's, it's a, it's a pretty neat place to be camp. I look forward to it every single year. Do you have a favorite part?

I've made some really great friends over the years and I always look forward to seeing them. I look forward to, you know, screaming out their name and I give them a big hug or a high five or whatever's comfortable for us. And it's a, it's a, I feel like I belong there. I feel like we're all a little bit weird and we all understand each other and no one has to explain, you know, why they are the way they are. They don't have to feel embarrassed and everyone's so supportive. But I think that's one of the things I love most is just how positive and supportive of an environment it is.

Melissa Breau: So I know you mentioned that your first year you audited and kind of every year since then you volunteered. Do you mind talking for just a moment what it's like to be a volunteer?

Ashley Horan: What it's like to be a volunteer? I am a doer and I'm a mover. I'm a wiggly, badly trained little puppy. And if I'm not, if I'm not given a task or a job to do, I will find one on my own. That's just, I like to, if I stay still too long, I'd build up a static.

And so I really love having a thing. I love having the task while I'm there and I like helping people. I like, sometimes people feel a little lost and I love being able to help 'em settle in and help them feel like they belong too. I just, I love the, the doing, you know, walking around, moving things around, lifting, carrying, toting, trying to fit a dog, walk into an RV. That was the highlight of last year. That was definitely a unique experience. So A very, very unique Yeah. Hashtag things I did at Fenzi Camp. Yeah, I love, I love connecting with the people and just helping them feel like they belong too. I think that's one of my favorite things.

Melissa Breau: So if you had a word of advice for somebody, either considering attending for the first time, or maybe they've signed up and they're feeling a little apprehensive, what would you say?

Ashley Horan: Oh, I would say, oh, please don't worry, you'll show up not knowing anyone and you'll leave having a whole bunch of new friends.

So just register, show up if you wanna volunteer, that's a great option too. Find someone and just say, Hey, I'm new. Find me. I'll probably be wearing a tutu or some other like obvious doodad or costume, find me and say, Hey, I'm new. And I'll say Welcome. Here's where the things are, here's what you need to know. Here's what you need to do. So just show up and find a buddy and you'll make new friends. Friends.

Melissa Breau: I love that. Well, thank you so much, Ashley, for sharing your perspective on the podcast.

Ashley Horan: Oh, thanks for having me. This was fun. This was a nice little trip down memory lane for me.

Melissa Breau: Fantastic. Thanks so much for tuning in. We'll be back next week with Ashley Escobar to talk about conformation. If you haven't already subscribed to our podcast and iTunes or the podcast app of your choice during our next episode, automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available. Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast, music provided royalty free by bensound.com. The track featured here is called Buddy Audio Editing provided by Chris Lang. Thanks again for tuning in and happy training.


Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training! 

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