An Exclusive Look at Camp Canine Behind-the-Scenes

Written by Maranda Palazzetti

Hey everyone! I’m Maranda—you probably know me from Camp, where I’ve worked with our pups and cats since last summer. Now that this thing called ~getting an education~ ended with a May graduation, I now work at Camp Canine full-time! If you haven’t met me, you may recognize me from Jorge’s photos (which I feature heavily in, no matter how much I insist that I’m having a bad hair day). I volunteered to write a post for the blog to bring you all a sneak peek into a day in the life of a Camp Canine counselor!

When I tell people I work at Camp Canine, I usually get some funny looks as they ask themselves, “What does that even mean?” They tend to overlook the “canine” aspect and assume I work at a daycamp for human children. Um… no thanks.

The second thing they ask is, “What do you actually do?”

So, to answer any burning questions you may have, here is a day at Camp Canine:

Often, my shift starts at 6:30am. This means that, on my morning commute, I run into a few types of people. A lot of people, like me, are going to work—but I also see people who somehow found the motivation to go for a jog on a Sunday morning, and, last but not least, people who are still meandering home from the previous night’s debauchery.

When I arrive to Camp, the first thing I do is help my coworkers walk all our pups who’ve stayed overnight. This is one of the best parts of the day, because the dogs are so happy to see us in the morning! And, since I usually only come in once a week, I get some extra love—they’re almost as excited to see me as I am to see them! We walk around the block to stretch our legs amongst the aforementioned brave souls who are out-and-about at such an hour (at this point, the party animals have mostly found their way home, thankfully).

As the morning goes on, the daycare dogs begin to trickle in, energy rises, breakfast is served – and so are the cuddles.

It’s around this time that I go upstairs to take care of our feline campers. I feed them, clean their bunks, and do playtimes. The cat room is a bit different from the dog playrooms since there is only one cat handler assigned per shift, and our cats are (quite necessarily) kept separate from one another. When I go upstairs, the first thing I do is check on the cats to make sure they’re all a-okay and purring! Then, I clean their bunks and serve breakfast. After breakfasts are done, I do playtime with the cats whose parents have requested it – these one-on-one playtimes can be 15 or 30 minutes long; we play with toys, cuddle and I take lots of pictures of the happy kitty. Before I go back downstairs, I choose one cat to let out for free-roaming time in the room; we alternate which kitty gets to roam throughout the day so that they all get some exploration time. 

One of our recent kitty campers is Pearl. We love every camper who comes through our doors, but sometimes you just develop an extra-special connection. Pearl, with her funny meow and friendly personality, just clicked with me. Recently, Pearl’s owner became unable to continue caring for her. Luckily, I was able to take her in as my foster – she’s currently staying with me until we find her a forever home! A lot of us counselors have the opportunity to foster homeless dogs and cats. Camp Canine works closely with Animal Lighthouse Rescue, and many of us provide temporary homes for the “satos” they rescue from the streets in Puerto Rico.

Maranda with Pearl!

After my morning with the cats, I return downstairs for some quality time with the pups. During my time at Camp, I’ve noticed that there are primarily two different doggy personalities present: 

Rudy the Wheaten Terrier

There are the natural extroverts, like Lucy Pug, who immediately runs up to you and has never met anyone she didn’t like. Then, there are the pups who need a little coaxing to come out of their shell. Most recently, the pup who won my heart is Rudy the Wheaten Terrier! Rudy is known for his famous howl, but he’s also known for making you earn his love. Now, I consider my greatest accomplishment to be the moment I walk into Camp and am greeted with Wheaten kisses!

During the day, we’ll get some (lots of) cleaning done and serve lunches. We ultimately end the morning shift with midday walks, where every pup gets a stroll outside, whether they’re boarding or not. The campers love this time spent in the fresh NYC air!

After this, I go upstairs to give the cats lunches and love, and then the shift is done.

Besides the fact that I get to spend my time at Camp with my favorite furry friends, the best part of Camp has to be my coworkers. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have met some of our favorite people at Camp—I know I have! Sometimes, these friendships start in unlikely ways: the first time I met my coworker Allison, she was on her break and fast asleep in the break room. I, a stranger, walked in just as her alarm went off and she woke up. We both very awkwardly said hi, and I think I ran out before introductions could even be made … then we actually started working the same shifts, and now we have a 68 day Snapchat streak.

Well folks, I think that about sums up a day in the life at Camp. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk, and I hope to see you and your pups at Camp soon.

 

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