I am so excited to announce the beginning of a new series here at the Exploration Dog Blog–Welcome to the Dog World Interview Series! In this series I will be interviewing people from all areas of the dog world–trainers, vets, dog walkers, rescues etc. Starting with local Vermont area folks and working our way out. All of the people chose for this series are people I want to learn more about and who inspire me and hopefully inspire you as well!
First up is Sara Arms of Green Mountain Canine Camp. Sara is a VT native and from time to time joins Exploration Dog Camp out on our walks! I hope you enjoy the interview, because Mason and I think Sara is pretty amazing!
When did you start GMCC and why? What exactly do you do?
I officially started GMCC in late 2015. I was in my 4th year working in advertising for a local company and had been feeling really unhappy in my career for quite some time. I was working long days, skipping lunches, feeling constantly stressed, and bringing that stress home with me at the end of every work day. All the while, my dog was sitting at home like a giant bump on a log. When he was younger, I would drive home on my lunch breaks and spend time with him. It was hands down the best 30 minutes of my entire day. I started thinking to myself how silly it was to put so much of my time, energy, and efforts in to a career that I 100% knew I didn’t want to continue pursuing. I asked myself “if you could do anything and get paid for it, what would you want to do?” I came up with the answer almost immediately, and began actually looking in to the possibility of being able to get paid to spend the day not only with my own dog, but other awesome dogs too! Dog Camp is an awesome alternative to the more traditional doggie daycare that we’re all pretty familiar with. What’s so amazing about camp is that dogs get to socialize, play, learn, grow, exercise, and have a BLAST in a structured and natural environment. They’re not fenced in rolling around on fake grass or playing in some indoor gymnasium like them would be at daycare. They’re not leashed or kenneled. At camp, they’re swimming and running off leash in fields. They’re in the forest surrounded by a small pack of dogs that they come to know really well over time and develop bonds and lasting relationships with. They have a pack leader (me) who they know and trust and can count on to keep them safe and help them make good choices and have a great time. It’s honestly the coolest thing you could ever give your dog, and that’s why I decided to take the plunge and quit my job to start Green Mountain Canine Camp. I wanted to provide this amazing life for my dog, while giving myself the most amazing life at the same time.
What kind of dog do you have? Age, breed, name.
My dog Monty is a Shiba Inu. His real name is Montego (after Montego Bay, Jamaica), but we’ve always called him by his nickname. He’s 3 years old right now, and grows a little bit more sassy and silly every day.
In 5 words describe Monty’s personality.
Stubborn, Sassy, Nerdy, Goofy, and Happy.
What do you feed Monty?
Monty eats a strictly raw diet. We rotate different proteins (ground turkey, beef, fish, chicken) to keep him from getting bored, and add other things in to ensure that he’s eating a well balanced meal. Minced veggies (kale, broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts), fruits (apples, strawberries, blueberries), ground bone, coconut oil, fish oil, and other treats here and there! Since a very young age he’s suffered from some pretty serious skin allergies, and his raw diet is the one thing that has really helped his body battle his allergic reactions.
Does Monty have a “best” camp friend?
Monty has a BFF in each different pack that we go hiking with during the week. There’s at least one dog that comes out each day that has managed to “crack the Monty code” and get him to be playful. It brings me more joy than I can explain to see him smiling, playing chase, wrestling, and having a blast with his friends out at camp.
What is Monty’s best party trick?
Monty’s party trick that is favored by most people he meets is the “Pee-Yew” command. If you pinch your nose and say “Monty, did you toot!? Pee-Yew!” he will bring his paw up over his nose and cover it like something is stinky.
What does Monty’s perfect day look like?
Monty loves lots of different things, but 3 of his favorite things are being outside, seeing his favorite humans, and taking naps! I think his perfect day consists of something outdoors, like a hike or heading down to the beach at our house to dig in the sand and fetch sticks in the shallow water. If his favorite human friends stopped by to play with him while we were out there he would be in heaven. After that, he would then want to come home and sprawl out in the sunshine on the deck and take a nice long nap.
What do you do when you aren’t at camp?
During the week days when Monty is at camp all morning, he spends his free time napping andresting up for the next day. If he’s well rested though, we like to head out on adventures together. Our adventures are anything from visiting his grandparents and his horse sister who lives with them, to heading downtown and having lunch with his human friends outside on Church Street. If we’re just relaxing at home, Monty’s Chuckit is probably his all time favorite weekend activity.
Do you have a GMCC spirit dog? / What camp dog are you most like?
If I had to pick just one camp dog that I think my personality most reflects, I would probably say it’s Baloo. He is silly and fun, likes to play and be social, but he can also be a little bit anxious at times. He also seems to REALLY hate confrontation, which is very true for me as well! If two other dogs are having a “disagreement”, Baloo is the first to run over and try and diffuse the situation.
What is your favorite thing about running camp? What is the hardest thing?
My favorite thing about running camp is that for the first time in my life I have a career/job that I actually enjoy! When I take a vacation, I don’t dread coming back to work anymore. I love what I’m doing. How could I not!? The hardest part is finding ways to be innovative and grow without losing all of the small business touches that make GMCC what it is. I want my company to expand and become better with each passing year, but I don’t want to compromise the great relationships I have with my clients and the down to earth vibe that my camp has.
Any advice for anyone who is thinking of quitting their job and pursuing their dream job?
I usually feel like the last person who should be offering advice, but I think I would just say that if you can really picture yourself doing something different, you have to swallow your fears and take the plunge. Looking back there are a zillion things I could have done to prepare myself better before quitting my stable career and opening up Green Mountain Canine Camp. The way I looked at it though was that if I allowed myself to be held back by all of the “what ifs” I would never make the change. In the end though, I took a giant leap of faith and have never looked back.