Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet Dog Scout Troop No. 198

By Laura Fulda, VP of Marketing & Communications

Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) recently launched the first Dog Scouts of America troop in the Bay Area, so I thought I’d check out a meeting to see what it’s all about.

Dog Scouts of America (DSA) is a national organization that functions much like the Girl or Boy Scouts we all know. Cadets work with their humans to earn badges in an effort to earn the coveted “Dog Scout” title. HSSV’s troop (No. 198) offers a fun, structured way for DSA members to collect badges, go on troop outings, and learn about positive training methods.

At the meeting, I met Robert Verdahl and his dog Jasper, an adorable black and white lab/collie mix. Jasper was the troop’s first scout member to earn the Dog Scout title. While waiting for the meeting to start, Jasper showed off by dancing in between Robert’s legs, spinning on command and kneeling down to ‘say his prayers.’ No wonder he was the first canine to earn the title!

The meeting was called to order. We listened to a lecture by Cecilia Sternzon, director of training and programs for A DOG'S LIFE, on “what makes a social dog” and Beth Ward, HSSV’s COO and the Troop Leader, awarded badges. Jasper earned five new badges including:

Lure Coursing - Jasper had to follow a plastic bag on a string through an obstacle course off leash and return to Robert on recall.
Sign Language - Jasper and Robert had to learn 15 different hand commands including ‘get my shoes,’ ‘get the ball,’ and ‘go outside.’
Naked Dog - Jasper had to be off leash (naked) and at least five feet away from Robert while accomplishing five consecutive moves.

When accepting Jasper’s badges, Robert told other members that even though Jasper is now a bona fide Dog Scout, that doesn’t mean he’s perfect and that’s OK. Robert said the real purpose of joining Dog Scouts is for people to spend more time quality with their dogs. Members nodded their heads and later told me they looked forward to attending the upcoming troop kayaking trip and hike. I left the meeting feeling like Dog Scouts offers families a great way to bond with their dogs, participate in fun outings and learn something about themselves and their dogs along the way.

HSSV’s Dog Scouts of American Troop meets every 4th Thursday of the month from 6:30-7:30pm at HSSV’s Animal Community Center. For more information about joining the HSSV Dog Scout Troop, visit or call Beth Ward at HSSV: 408.262.2133 ext. 178.

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