About Us

Tails are wagging and having fun at Camp Gone to the Dogs!

All Photographs © Steve Surfman Photography

A special invite to Owners of New Puppies-BRING THEM! There’s no better start your pups could have than Camp Gone to the Dogs.

All breeds or mixes of dogs are welcome.

Bring your canine senior citizens and enjoy quality time in lectures and walks with them. You may even discover that your veteran has some hidden talents just waiting to be discovered at Camp. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

Our Training Philosophy

Our guiding principles are kindness, fairness and love. We use only positive training methods— treats, toys, play and petting. If it’s not fun for your dog, we won’t do it.

Our Instructors

Camp’s instructors are not just “on” the cutting edge, they ARE the cutting edge. If there’s a way to make it enjoyable for dogs to learn, they’ll find it. They have received national acclaim, written books, given international seminars and run training centers. Training with Camp’s instructors will spoil you. When you see how enthusiastically and joyously your dog learns when you teach positively, you won’t want to train any other way.

Mare Potts, Camp Director

Mare graduated from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse with a B.S. in Recreation Administration and a M.S. in Educational Media.   She trained to be a Camp Director, Parks and Recreation Manager, Outdoor Education Leader and Educational Media Specialist.  Mare’s passion for training dogs has taken her on many adventures that include Obedience, Flyball, K9 Disc and more.

She and her dogs starred in the MagRack Disc Dog Training DVD, appeared in Animal Planet’s Best Dog Friendly Destinations, the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, NBC Sunday Morning News show and more.

Mare is a dog trainer that stresses positive, motivational training methods.  She has Cattle Dogs, Cattle Dog mixes, Australian Shepherd mixes and Beagle/Chihuahua mixes that include Gracie, Cote, Bryte, Kai, Echo, Trek, Kedzy, Keva, Creek and Wyatt.

Kelly Bayless

Kelly has lived with dogs all her life, but it wasn’t until she got her first beagle in 2004 that she discovered the world of dog sports and has never looked back. While she got started in agility, she and her dog LIly fell in love with nosework. Together they earned a NACSW ELT3 title and were the third team to earn the UKC Grand Champion title. Kelly and her beagles play in NACSW, UKC, AKC and CWAGS. She’s been teaching nosework for seven years and believes that any day that you can play with your dog is a good day.

Susan Brogan KPA-CTP

I am thrilled and excited to be invited to be part of the staff at Camp Gone To The Dogs for the first time! I have dreamed about just attending for so many years!

I have always been an animal lover and grew up all with everything from horses to pigs to birds and snakes. But I never had a dog of my own until I moved away from home and got married. Our first dog used to drag me down the street on our walks. So, I decided to take dog training classes and a whole new world opened up for me. I started competing in obedience around 1995, and first learned about operant conditioning around 1998. Over the years, my dogs and I have competed in a variety of dog sports/activities, including freestyle, therapy work, obedience, agility, flyball, rally, disc, tricks, and fastcat.  

My favorite Dog Activities are Freestyle, Rally, Therapy work, Tricks, and walks in the country.   I’m a competition judge for the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO) and serve on the Executive Advisory Board.   I’m also a Trick Dog Instructor, Stunt Dog judge, AKC CGC Evaluator, and a NATE Treibball judge.  

My freestyle dogs have been featured in multiple publications over the years, including Dog Fancy, Front and Finish, the Aussie Times, The Australian Shepherd Journal, and the Whole Dog Journal. 
In 2014, I had the honor of representing WCFO Freestyle with my Aussie, Ruby, at the AKC Eukanuba Invitational in Orlando, FL. 

I’ve been instructing freestyle and tricks in the Northern Virginia area for over 20 years, both adult and 4H, from beginners to advanced levels. I get so excited seeing my students succeed, whether in the ring or just in the classroom. Some of my 4H students even went on to be trainers themselves!
In 2019 I completed my Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner Certification. I am continuing my training education and in 2020 I opened my own training business, K9s Rock Dog Training, LLC.   https://www.k9srockdogtraining.com/about-us/

I currently share my home in Front Royal with two Australian Shepherds, Carmine the artist and Q, the new kid. We enjoy therapy work, Rally, Freestyle, Tricks, and Stunt Dog.

Clyde Closson

I’m thrilled to be part of the Agility Staff and am looking forward to our time together learning new skills or just plain having fun with our k9 companions.  I’ve been involved, in one manner or another, with the sport of dog agility since the early 90’s…competing, teaching and judging.  My current competition dog is Uneek.  She’s 4 years old and together we play in agility, obedience and the hunt test game.  The puppy you might see dragging me around is the newest addition to the Closson pack.  His name is Tempo and I hope to do agility, obedience and hunt tests with him.  For the moment, he’s pretty much up for anything so please stop and say hello to the little fella when you get a chance.  Besides these two, Mardi and I share our home with 5 other Goldens.  Gets a bit crazy around the house at times!  Like all of you, I’m here to have a ton of fun and enjoy the company of caring dog people and their k9 companions.  If there’s any way that I can be of assistance to you in making your Camp experience more enjoyable, please don’t hesitate to see me.  Let the relaxing, learning and laughter commence!  

Christina Curtis

Christina has been involved with dogs for over 13 years. She started out volunteering at a high kill shelter and then realized her passion for saving fearful and high energy dogs and became involved in rescue work. She started assisting training classes at the shelter and moved on to running the classes. Christina decided to find an outlet for her high energy foster dogs and became involved in the sport of disc. She found her passion in traveling and competing in this sport. Christina has a 2006 World Champion disc dog, along with many World Qualifying dogs over the years. In addition, she placed 2nd and 3rd at Worlds doing pairs routines and 3rd in Worlds with her micro dog.

Christina started teaching Manners, Reactive dog and trick classes at a doggie daycare. In addition, to these classes she does private inhome lessons and private disc dog lessons.

She shares her life with 10 rescue dogs and always has one foster dog. She now performs with these dogs doing disc, tricks and dock diving shows all over the United States. The last three years she performed at the Indianapolis Zoo for 8months each year.

Christina has also recently started working for a Service dog company. She brings home dogs to train and socialize.

She has learned so much by having several different breeds. She has Border Collies, Cattle dogs, a Lab, a Whippet and other mixes. It is important to her to use positive training so we are all always having fun!!! I am so exciting about teaching at camp this year.

Beverly Ferguson KPA-CTP

Bev writes “Dogs are my passion that is also a family affair.  I have been working and showing dogs since I was eight, when I got my first dog and showed in 4-H.  My grandfather trained dogs, taught my mom who taught me to work with dogs.  With my dogs, I have enjoyed participating in almost every dog sport at some time or another but prefer freestyle since I feel it gives you the closest relationship with your dog.  I have mostly had sporting dogs (Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Irish Setter, German Wirehaired Pointers) but have also had two Border Terriers and my mixed breed dog, Vinnie.  “Sonic (my BT) was only four months old when he participated in Camp in 2000 for the first time and it was an experience I won’t ever forget!  He learned so much, had such a great time and taught me equally as much about learning!”  By starting freestyle at Camp, he became the youngest dog to receive a traditional freestyle title in the World Canine Freestyle Organization.  He then went on to become one of the highest titled small dogs in our sport.  I also enjoy judging freestyle which gives me the opportunity to judge people all over the world.  I am currently employed at Leader Dogs for the Blind as the Manager for Canine Development and feel honored that I can use my dog training skills to help others and have in my almost 30 year career there.  The latest additions to my canine family are “Wink” a German Wirehaired Pointer.  Together we have been to dog shows all over the country as well as Westminster Dog show where she earned Best of Breed and the same year won Best of Opposite Sex at our National Specialty.  She is titled in 10 different venues.  I also have her son Peri who is a champion and has nosework titles.  And finally by marriage inherited the most lovely mixed breed GSD/Collie cross named Henry.   In order to continue to work with my dogs as well as those I instruct, early in 2014 I completed my Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner certification. 

Karin Franklin

Karin is a Pat Miller Certified trainer using reward based training methods. Karin has been training her dogs for over 25 years. She has competed in agility with several dogs and more recently visited nursing homes to do a trick display with her dogs and then greet the residents. She has also participated in many dog fests and Bark in the Parks doing agility and trick demos. Karin also loves to do crafts and will help you get your craft mojo making  paw traits and nose traits, leashes and a new craft to make braided tugs out of an old t-shirt. 

Ruth Lewis

Ruth got hooked on the sport of agility when she took a few classes in the basement of a local pet shop with a husky mix named Beaker. She then rescued her first Border Collie and started competing and soon started teaching. She is also certified as a Canine Fitness Trainer and believes that all athletes (even the weekend bar hoppers) should be fit for the sport.  

For Ruth, one of the joys of teaching agility is bringing out the best between dog and handler and helping them create the necessary teamwork no matter their age or ability. It’s all about having fun, staying active, and enjoying the special bond created between handler and dog.  

Doreen Palmer

Doreen has had dogs all her life and has had Chesapeake Bay Retrievers since the mid 70’s. As a military family Doreen, husband Gary and their Chessies have moved around the US, living in Florida, Alaska, CT, NYC, and Maryland during their 30 years of active duty. They are now retired and living in CT.  Doreen has been actively showing the Chessies in AKC, UKC and CKC venues. She and the dogs show in obedience, agility, rally, tracking and conformation and she helps Gary out with their field training. Since 1993 the dogs have consistently been in the top 10 Chessies showing in obedience and agility in the AKC. She started tracking in 1992 with her first competition dog, Taku. Taku went on to earn his VCD3 title (UD, MX & MXJ, TDX), he was the 1st Chesapeake to earn a VCD2. Piper, Zephyr and Makai have all followed in Taku’s footsteps earning their VCD titles, as well as competing and titling at the highest levels of competition obedience, rally, agility and tracking in AKC. Zephyr, Makai’s sire, is the first Chessie to earn a VCD4 title and the only Chessie to have run at the AKC tracking Invitational (and one of the very few to pass). Makai is in the twilight of her competition career but still competes in obedience, agility, tracking and rally. Doreen’s new competition dog is Keagan, a 4 year old male who is currently working on finishing his Open obedience title; his Novice & Open agility titles, his Rally advance title, his tracking title, and is close to finishing his GCHB in conformation. Doreen has helped train and to title other breeds in conformation, obedience, agility, rally and tracking. Those breeds include Wiems, Goldens, Welsh Springers, Clumber Spaniels, Min Pins, Dobermans, Bullmastiffs, Border Collies, GSDs, Westies, Aussies, Labs, Belgian Sheepdogs, Tervurens, Pem Corgis, Std. Poodles, Rough Collies and Bearded Collies, Malinois, Norwich Terriers and Pyr Sheps.

Beth Ann Sabo

Beth Ann has been setting hides and watching dogs find them for over 10 years. She’s a CNWI through NACSW, an AKC CGC Evaluator and the owner of Eastern Shore Dog. BA is looking forward to creating search problems and setting hides for teams at camp, then watching your dogs amaze us all. https://www.easternshoredog.com/about-2-1

Steve Surfman

Steve Surfman has been photographing animals for over 30 years.  He is a multiple award winning photographer.  He prides himself on capturing the very essence of dogs in their sports – their energy, enthusiasm, instinct and natural beauty.  His photographs have appeared in many national dog publications including the AKC Gazette.  Steve is a participant in the AKC stock phot agency which supplies photographs to major advertising agencies.  He has been published in News Day, a major New York newspaper and his photographs have also appeared in the Boston Globe.

He is a member of the Scottish Deerhound Club of American and Mid-Atlantic Deerhounds.  This year one of Steve’s Deerhound photos won first place at the Scottish Deerhound National Specialty.  In 2002 Steve received an award from the Dog Writers Association of America for “Best Black and White Photograph.”  Early in 2003, one of Steve’s agility photos won first prize for action photography in the prestigious Dog Fanciers of America annual photo contest.  He recently had several photos (most of them taken at Camp) accepted for a calendar due out in 2006.  Steve loves coming to Camp and considers doing the photography at Camp Gone to the Dogs as not just another photo shoot, but just plain fun.


“Don’t ever change your motto—it’s too appropriate. If I had a tail, it would be up, too. Thank you, thank you, thank you for assembling the most knowledgeable, most positively encouraging, nicest group of people I have ever known.”  –Cathy Taylor, CO, Alum