|PHOTO: Paws & Effect
Members of various Paws & Effect programs recently established Dog Scouts Troop No. 232. The troop is an affiliate of Dog Scouts of America, a non-profit that started in 1989. Through a certification and specialty "merit badge" program incorporating more than 80 awards, the organization promotes safe, fun, and ethical activities for dogs and their handlers. There are more than 38 posts nationwide, in more than 22 states.
Merit badges categories include those in scouting, community service, agility, trail work, and other activities.
Dog Scouts and their handlers must be capable of acting as good citizens, including sit, down, stay, come, heel and leave it. Handlers must successfully pass a 33-question written examination. The written test covers topics such as: reward-based training, learning theory, and the mission of Dog Scouts of America.
As of June 10, a pawful of Troop 232 dogs have already achieved the Dog Scout certification and title. Prior to certification, dogs are optionally called "Cadet Scouts."
"Sponsoring Dog Scout activities are a great way to regularly gather people and dogs together, especially those who may live too far away for weekly classes," says Paws & Effect Executive Director Nicole Shumate. "Service dog recipients and Pet Partners will now have options that are more accommodating to their circumstances. Plus, what military veteran doesn't immediately want their dog to 'tab-out,' with plenty of qualification badges?"
At a weekend troop meeting conducted at Brown's Woods in West Des Moines, Iowa, participants worked toward their Hiking badges. The next weekend-long troop meeting will be Sept. 25-27, 2015. Training and preparation will take place on Friday and Saturday, with evaluations on Sunday.
Paws & Effect plans to conduct smaller, 2-hour badge workshops once or twice a month. All dogs are welcome at all meetings, whether they have earned their Dog Scout badge or not. The first workshop will be Fri., June 19 at 7 p.m. Participants will work toward their Manners badges.
A Facebook page for the Dog Scouts organization is here.