From Annie Brody, Founder & CEO
When I was very little, I loved animals, especially dogs, but my family lived in a New York City apartment that didn’t allow them. I tried to make do with every other kind of creature from goldfish and turtles to parakeets and gerbils. My father felt so bad about it, he gave me a stuffed dog that looked just like Asta, the famous dog on The Thin Man TV series.
I went on to attend Cornell University’s State Agriculture College. My love of animals inspired me to become a veterinarian until I met up with a semester of biochemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. I switched my major to communications and pursued a career in the publishing business.
Years later, working in Manhattan and still without a dog of my own, I found myself hanging out at dog parks to get my daily dose of Vitamin Dog. One day as I was coming home from work in a sour mood, I ran into a neighbor walking his dog and realized that petting his puppy lifted my spirits and brought joy to my heart in a simple way that nothing else did. I felt buoyant, excited — the kind of feeling you have in your gut when you’re smitten with affection for someone.
A few weeks later I found my "soul dog" at the New York City ASPCA — a scruffy, skinny one-year-old Golden Retriever who had been wandering alone in the Bronx. I named him Hero and my life was changed. I became a Dog Person.
Celebrating the relationship between dogs and their people is the goal of Camp Unleashed. For a few days, we live in a dog's world, the natural world — the world both our species depend upon for survival. Our activities encourage people to see the dog’s point of view through a dog's eyes, nose, mouth and ears. And by learning to understand and appreciate our dogs more, we discover our own inner dog.
Come to Camp Unleashed. The process is transformative, the food is excellent, and the most important thing is to have fun.
Eat, sniff, play!
A Brief History of Camp Unleashed
Camp Unleashed presents retreats for people and their dogs to deepen their relationship through education and organized play in an experience designed to be transformational for both species.
In 2004, Annie Brody founded Camp Unleashed on the premise that dogs need a vacation from the human world — a place where they can be off leash, safe, and in a pack with other dogs in their own natural environment.
The first Camp Unleashed started with 10 people. Today camps are limited to 50 people to keep the dog pack and the human group personal and manageable. In 2010, Camp Unleashed expanded from the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts to include a camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of first Asheville, North Carolina and now Mountain City, Georgia.
Each Camp Unleashed session offers dogs and their people a 4-day weekend retreat organized to be fun, satisfying, relaxing, and educational. The daily schedule is planned to keep the dogs active and participatory. Presentations and workshops teach campers how to take the best care of their dog. Sports and athletic activities led by experts engage the dogs and help campers understand how to maximize their dog's abilities. Participation in activities is optional, and some campers may choose to simply relax by the lake with their dogs.
We use positive reinforcement training methods, rewarding dogs with treats, more play and/or attention. Our core value is respect for each dog's own nature.
Over the years, feedback from campers has been extremely positive, and word of mouth has created the momentum for Camp Unleashed to grow. Campers say that being with their dog in nature in a pack, with the freedom to be off the leash is a transformative experience for both the dogs and their people. The Camp Unleashed philosophy, presenters, staff and programs build trust, deepen respect, improve skills, and reduce stress for both species. Some people even say it’s the best vacation they’ve ever had!