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About Camp Merricks


In June 2013 our family began volunteering with Almost Home Pet Adoption Center, the Nelson County SPCA.  Our first foster, Jasper, was a medical needs dog. Fostering him led to many more dogs and other rescues including Southeast German Shepherd Rescue and New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue.  Over the course of our fostering, we took on numerous dogs with behavior problems, and were called "Boot Camp".  Thus, Camp Merricks was born.

We built facilities to have many foster dogs in our home.  Former adopters asked if we'd keep their dogs while they traveled, and the boarding business grew from there.  Daycare became a natural extension to our boarding services.  We are always improving the Camp environment so dogs who spend time here are happy, engaged, and at the end of the day... tired.  We encourage dogs to be dogs and do all the things they love to do run, play, dig, tug, and splash. 

Our clients are truly "Happy Campers".  If you'd like your dog to join us at Camp schedule a meet and greet to learn more about us.  We look forward to meeting you!

Meet the Camp Crew

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Denise – Owner & Trainer

Denise has loved and worked with dogs her entire life. Her first experience training was in the early '90s with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Kennel Club where she taught group obedience and puppy classes.  Classes were based in the Volhard Method and focused on helping owners understand how to communicate with their dogs and let them know what they really wanted.  At that time, she was involved with AKC Obedience and showed her Dalmatian, Haley, to a level one obedience title, Canine Good Citizen, and Therapy Dog certifications.

Denise held several leadership positions within dog organizations including the Nelson County SPCA, Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, and New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue. Her love of dogs, an insatiable appetite for reading, and years of watching, and "talking" to them; combined with experiences in training, showing, and rescue have led to an understanding of dog behavior that is valuable in assessing rescue candidates and helping "problem dogs" stay in their homes.  Most assessment and training clients are referrals from local veterinarians or shelters.  We train YOU to better understand your dog, and why they are acting the way they are.

Earl - Kennel Tech & Trainer

Earl has been part of Camp since 2019 devoting time on evenings and weekends to helping Camp succeed. He started full-time in early 2022 as kennel tech and Camper Liaison. He is learning training and behavior assessment skills from Denise and has quickly shown himself to be a Camper favorite. 

Earl maintains Camp Yards, fencing and manages our outside improvement projects, keeping Camp in top condition.


Patrick - Maintenance & Kennel Tech

Patrick and Denise started rescuing together back in 2013.  While he has another "day job" that takes him away for weeks at a time, he also takes care of all the Camp carpentry projects. 

When he's home during the summer and winter he helps with day to day operations, projects and mowing.   When not working on Camp projects he's often found giving Campers that little bit of extra attention. 


Camp Counselors

Tiggy - Head Counselor

Tiggy came to Camp as a foster for Nelson County SPCA.  After a few months at Camp and no interest from ANYONE, we decided he should stay.  Tiggy is yard monitor and extra large bird spotter.  He is often seen rolling in the grass  with a favorite toy or chasing after overhead vultures.  

Tiggy regularly oversees the activities of other dogs and lets them know if they are out of bounds in play style or exuberance. 


Juno - Puppy Monitor

Juno came to Camp several years ago as a foster for Southeast German Shepherd Rescue.  She was VERY pregnant and had her four pups shortly after arriving at Camp.  We decided she needed to stay in the family so she was adopted by our son, Connor.  Connor is active-duty Air Force, so Juno is staying at Camp while he is away.  She takes her role as Puppy Monitor very seriously and enjoys showing new puppies the Camp routine. 

Juno is also the resident greeter - though her greeting is often loud and persistent.

Dante & Coleman - Little Dog Ambassadors

Both Dante and Coleman are foster fails from New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue.  Dante is our resident senior and spends his days grumpily complaining about the disruption to his life Camp creates.  In true Chihuahua style, Coleman selectively socializes with other dogs and vocalizes his displeasure with the majority of others.  He is protected from himself by remaining in the little dog room ​and yards.  Their disdain for participating in Camp activities is shown in their refusing to smile for the camera.


Kira - Camp Supermodel and Ball Expert

Kira has been part of the Camp Family since being adopted in 2012 from Southeast German Shepherd Rescue. She is the most photogenic of all the Camp Counselors, and incredibly athletic.  Her ball skills are second to none. 

Kira has little use for other dogs so spends most of her Camp time in her own yards or kennel - which suits her just fine.  She is our best example of what consistent, daily training can produce, so she often interacts with Camp training clients.     Be warned:  throwing a ball for her is a never-ending commitment. 

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