I came across something rather intriguing today--Dog Scouts of America. It is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 for the purpose of education, research and animal training. They give merit badges to "honor the learning and training achievements of the dog owners." They also give community service awards and a "Good Scout" award to those who promote humane education.
They advocate dog training using "kindness, fairness and patience rather than domination, force and intimidation" because dogs are not "furniture". They have a Dog Scout Camp each year where the dogs can learn such things as "Backpacking, Water Rescue, The Art of Shaping,Flyball, Agility, Search & Rescue, Herding, Carting, Frisbee, IMPROV Obedience, Tracking, Sledding, Freestyle Obedience, Weight Pull and Lure Coursing."
They have weekend outings, a newsletter and a discussion list.
For many, this may be a bit "over the top", but I think it can do a number of helpful things including humane education, community involvement and helping people become responsible pet owners. Anyone who watches Animal Planet knows of the horror stories that exist out there in the name of "pet" "ownership".
So many of us today don't think we have the time to join an organization whose main purpose might just be to have fun. But life is short (and dogs' lives are even shorter) and it may be time to rethink our priorities a bit.