Boo spent 13 summers at Timber Ridge Camp (TRC). Boo was a dog that always sought out people who needed a bit of unconditional love. At staff worship, she walked around the staff circle until she found the right staff member.

April 28, 2023

How a dog became staff at Timber Ridge Camp

I remember very well the first day I saw Boo. My daughter Hannah and I were at the Humane Society for Hamilton County, near our home in Arcadia, Indiana. We were looking for a new pet.

As we walked through the dog area, we saw a lot of dogs that needed homes. As we walked, we saw different kinds of temperaments: high energy, angry or dejected described most of the dogs we saw.

As we got toward the end of the viewing area, there was a beautiful Pitbull mix in the cage. As we walked up, she sat back from the door and slowly wagged her tail. She looked us in the eye. I know dogs aren't supposed to have expressions, but hers said, “Hi, how are you? Can we be friends?” Her body language was relaxed and welcoming. We called her to the door and she walked up, tail still slowly wagging and stuck her nose through the slat. At that moment, I knew without a doubt this was the one!

Boo spent 13 summers at Timber Ridge Camp (TRC). As a younger dog, she joined in our nightly game of Capture the Chicken, running with the kids all around the playing field. Campers would forget the game as she allowed them to “catch” her and stop for some petting before running off again. Before long, Boo had the run of the camp. She always went where the campers were. Instinctively, she knew not to chase horses but loved to hang out at the barn. She would join campers as they rode the mountain bike trails and the beach was a favorite hangout. When the weather got hot, she went to the office or hung out in the ceramics room. She always came to the porch of the cafe for meals. If a camper or staff offered her a snack, she would gently take the food, taste if and if she liked it, down it would go! Boo literally had the run of TRC.

Boo was a dog that always sought out people who needed a bit of unconditional love. At staff worship, she walked around the staff circle until she found the right staff member. She would curl up at their feet to be petted and to show love. Usually, by the end of the summer she found her way into staff quarters and campers’ cabins for sleepovers. Again, she found the person who needed her most and curled up on their bed for the night.

This past summer, there was a staff member who was going through a lot of personal struggles. There were several times when they walked off to be alone. Each time, Boo sought them out. When they sat down, Boo snuggled up against them to say, I love you and everything’s going to be alright. This is a story I’ve heard over and over again, as God used Boo to comfort those who needed it most.

As time went on, Boo learned that Adventurer Family weekends and Pathfinder Fair and Camporee were great weekends to go where the people were. She spent whole weekends being an ambassador for TRC as well as Jesus.

A week before Thanksgiving Boo got sick. As she went to the vet for what would be her last visit, she saw a woman in the waiting room. The lady was sad. Without any urging, Boo went up to offer comfort. Can a dog be any more Christlike than that? I don’t know how many lives Boo touched, but I know she had an important job that God called her to do. Boo was so much more than a pet. In her 13 years with us, it didn’t matter where she was or what we were doing, Boo made friends and made a difference in people's lives. Will our pets be in heaven? I don’t know, but I can surely hope. I and many others now live with a note of sadness when we think of Boo’s passing. But that sadness is overwhelmed by the memories of a dog that loved others and represented Jesus in all she did.

Charlie Thompson is Indiana Conference youth director.