How One Dog Inspired New York’s Canine Camp Getaway

Janice Costa's dog-friendly retreat is the unexpected venture of an unexpected life -- all thanks to her Belgian Malinois rescue, Jessie.


We’ve written a lot about traveling with your dog this summer — ’tis the season, after all, and for some of us, it’s not really a family vacation unless the family’s devoted furry members can come along, too (and no, we’re not talking about your Uncle Bob).

The Canine Camp Getaway is designed specifically for people and their dogs to go vacationing together. Set against the breathtaking Adirondack Mountains in Lake George, NY, the Roaring Brook Ranch hosts the weekend retreat twice a year. Featuring activities like Barks and Crafts, introductory obedience training, hiking, swimming, and Yappy Hour, there’s plenty for you and your dog to do.

But there’s more to the Canine Camp Getaway than just a rare chance to travel with your dog.

The Getaway was created by dog lover Janice Costa, whose journey started on a much different path. Growing up with animals, Janice developed a profound connection with them, especially since she was always a little shy. Writing and music were her chosen forms of creative expression, and she eventually found work as a magazine editor and sang in a band. While searching for a canine companion to adopt, she came across an unlikely match named Jessie.

Originally set on a Lab mix, Jessie, a Belgian Malinois, demonstrated how “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (gotta love that John Lennon lyric!). Even though Janice didn’t know it at first, Jessie had already picked her, expressing excitement only for Janice, and even remembering her face when she returned after fruitless searching. Janice recalls the way Jessie put her paw up upon seeing her, while ignoring everyone else who came to the shelter. They had found each other.

Shortly after bringing Jessie home, Janice noticed that the dog’s temperament and personal history would require extra training. Bred to be protective, the Belgian Malinois made dating a little difficult, and as a working breed, Jessie needed to feel useful. Janice worked hard with Jessie to apply the dog’s traits productively. And that’s when Janice experienced another bump in the road.

Janice began experiencing inner-ear problems so severe she couldn’t get out of bed without feeling dizzy, sometimes throwing up for hours. Jessie’s service instincts kicked in, and the dog intuitively responded to Janice’s illness by learning to retrieve items for her while Janice remained bedridden. Janice lost hearing in her right ear and was forced to give up singing — a devastating loss. But life would happen again, revealing a new fork in the road.

Hanging out at dog parks, Janice noticed that Jessie flourished in the presence of other canines, and began looking for more opportunities for the dog to socialize. And that’s when the idea for a doggie retreat struck her.

Three years later, Janice is still organizing her Canine Camp Getaway, which has proven to be a successful endeavor. At the Getaway, dogs and their guardians get to enjoy each other’s company in an environment that supports and celebrates the profound connection between hounds and humans. Janice has Jessie to thank for her success — the dog she never expected to take home, but who showed her that when life throws you a curveball, you play fetch!

Via the Huffington Post

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