Where Do French Dogs Spend Their Summer Holidays?

The game is over. Animalin’s delicious 4th Annual Summer Camp in Aurimont, France came to an end on August 3rd. What is left? A lot. Dogs in my memory, around 60: males, females, big, small, all different but all happy to be here and to be trained. Dogs’ owners, happy to find a place to train their dogs in a different way… and friends, professional dog trainers and competitors happy to meet each other once a year to share their passion: teaching/sharing with others how to build a strong relationship and how to partner with their dog on a daily basis.

My friend Patrick Servais, one of the best French trainer in Agility, Gabriella Cenderelli, a passionate Italian Obedience competitor, who gives sun to the Summer Camp with her generous heart, her husband Gian, who tries to initiate the French — including myself and my dog Ricky — to Flyball (a great and exciting game), Sylvie Pedroni, with whom I share the most of my beliefs and feelings about dogs.

About the organization, 3 workshops for this year: Agility with Patrick, Competition Obedience with Gabriella, Dog Dancing with myself and Sylvie, one evening with games and some other shows with dogs, and a farewell party the last day.

The first Summer Camp in 2004 was organized around a group of people who used to discuss on a forum about clicker training, game and reward methods, and who wanted to meet in person.

Only four years later, more and more owners and passionate people come from Switzerland, Belgium and all over France to attend the Summer Camp with their dogs to learn again and again.

Why it is working? Because, as Ian Dunbar likes to say (he’s so damned right!), dogs, owners and trainers have a good time and great fun, and above all the Summer Camp has no other goal but that, no idea to change the world, no idea to prove something, just the idea to realize that dogs help us to grow up everyday.

Aurimont is a small French farmer village with 100 souls, and even if it’s hard for them to believe that some crazy owners can spend some of their holidays in their village with their dogs, they now wait for them every year and share either the meal or the farewell party with them.

I spend most of my time to thank dogs for enlightening my life, but maybe as dog trainers we sometimes forget to say a big thank to their owners. How great they are! Most of them are not from the dog world, they do not want to become dog trainers, competitors or behaviorists, they just want to spend some time with their dog, make their dog happy and have fun with them and others. They participate with no emotional baggage, they do what we tell them to do for the good of their dog, they cry because their dogs embarrass them sometimes, they often ask too much to their dogs, sometimes not enough, they laugh when their dog perform an exercise well… basically they are just happy to discover that they share their life with a special doggy.

So “Le camp d’été à Aurimont” is just like that for a week: an easy-going world in a simple town.

Catherine Collignon

French dog trainer and behaviorist

www.animalin.net