Summertime brings back childhood memories of swimming, hiking and summer camps with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of crafts, campfires and sleeping under the stars. As with many youngsters, these activities revolved around Boy Scouting … troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Today our dogs accompany me on my outdoor adventures, but sometimes I miss the camaraderie of my fellow scouts. Imagine my joy in discovering Dog Scouts – a national organization that promotes a variety of activities for dogs and their owners. I recently had the opportunity to learn more about this exemplary organization when speaking with Chris Puls, President of Dog Scouts of America.
When and how did the Dog Scouts start in America?
DSA was founded in 1995 for people and dogs of all ages and abilities. It was founded by Lonnie Olson because of her dog Karli. Karli had been active in several dog sports and she had excelled in many other areas that did not offer registered titles. For example, she was an excellent Frisbee dog. She was the lead dog in Lonnie’s sled team and had appeared in stage productions and television commercials. She also demonstrated tricks in hospitals, schools and nursing homes and entertained people with her therapy visits. This dog was like an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in Boy Scouts), she’d done it all! Lonnie decided that there should be an organization for dogs like Karli, or dogs who pursued Karli’s many accomplishments. And an organization for people who just have more fun with their dogs and want to learn new things.
The concept of having a single Organization that gave recognition all the various activities that dogs are involved in was just too profound to ignore. Lonnie jumped on the idea of Dog Scouts to recognize all dog activities under a single organization (at a time when non-obedient dog sports were just beginning and many were breed restrictive). Rally had not yet been launched and agility had only been introduced in the US a few years earlier. The only other “dog camp” had recently started on the east coast and was aimed at serious competitors in various dog sports.