Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are part of Americana. Many of us partook as a child or have kids who are earning badges, exploring life and doing new things. These organizations put a strong emphasis on doing good, while bettering yourself as a person and why not pass this on to dogs, right? Well Dog Scouts of America is a thing, and it exists in 22 states including New York. Founded by Lonnie Olson 13 years ago, the group members (dogs) work with their human counterparts to earn badges, have campouts, do cookie drives and give back to local organizations as well as national ones. In fact, the DSA makes $10,000 a year for the Salvation Army. Not too shabby.
Badges, which can be earned by video or in person, run the gambit, but according to members are not necessarily easy to earn. While all pup members must earn the basic obedience training badge called the Dog Scouts Badge, after that there are about 80 optional badges.
Dogs can add to their badge collection for disaster preparedness, jumping, sign language, geocaching (a treasure hunt based online where members attempt to locate geocaches with GPS devices), boating, retrieval, racing, rescue, dock diving and lots more. Not every dog can qualify for all the badges. Sometimes size and natural abilities, not to mention proximity to certain necessary facilities, make it so dogs can’t earn all credentials, but there’s no pressure! The organization is about spending time with your dog and even has two mottos that go like this:
For humans: “Our dogs’ lives are much shorter than our own. We should help them enjoy their time with us as much as we can.”
For dogs: “Let us learn new things that we become more helpful.”
Here’s an example of a video that dog owners can send in to DSA to earn their pups a sign language badge. Start around 3:25 to see a very well-trained doggy scout.
Also, here are some pictures of Jasper, a Dog Scout, and his owner Robert Verdahl, who are both in troop 198 based in Santa Clara. Jasper has earned an impressive 18 badges.
Would you consider joining Dog Scouts of America?