Fur real: Boy Scouts of America to introduce Puppy Scouts program

For 106 years, the life-changing experiences enjoyed in Scouting have been limited to humans.

This fall, thanks to a new Boy Scouts of America program, that’s going to change.

Put your paws together for the Puppy Scouts. At last, our loyal, friendly and cheerful four-legged friends get to experience the best of Scouting.

Details are still being worked out, but right now we know Puppy Scouts will be part of existing packs, troops, teams and crews. They’ll be ask to sit — that’s right, good boy! — while the humans enjoy weekly meetings. And they’ll be invited on select campouts and backpacking trips, as long as they carry their own gear and are current on their rabies vaccine.

I talked with Olaf Sprilo, the official veterinarian of the BSA, about the new program.

“Make no bones about it, Puppy Scouts was the inevitable next step, given the role dogs play in our society,” Sprilo said. “More and more these days, you see dogs at airports, shopping malls — even restaurants! Rather than just rolling over — playing dead, if you will — on this issue, the BSA decided to make this a pet project.”

Sprilo, whose Dalmatian, Scout, and German shepherd, Patches, were part of a Puppy Scouts pilot program in Dallas, answered a few more questions before he had to bow-wow out of the conversation.

PuppyScout1

How will Puppy Scouts be organized?

Puppy Scouts will form kennels, which are groups of two to eight dogs of similar ages.

Think of these like dens in a Cub Scout pack or patrols in a Boy Scout troop.

Will they use the Scout salute, Scout sign and Scout Law?

“Dogs can’t really salute, so that’s a ridiculous question,” Sprilo told me. “You have met a dog, right? How would a dog salute? I mean, physically how would that be possible?”

He’s right. Silly question. But he did tell me there would be a special Puppy Scout Law that’s closely aligned with the regular Scout Law.

“But because a dog’s vocabulary is often less advanced than a human’s,” Sprilo said, “the Scout Law had to be modified.”

The Puppy Scout Law reads:

Woof woof woof … woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof and* woof.

(* If your puppy can’t say “and,” that’s OK. He or she may substitute an additional “woof” in its place.)

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Will they wear the uniform?

Yes, Puppy Scouts will be asked to wear the official Scout shirt for meetings and formal occasions. If they show up in uniform, they’ll get a treat.

At least initially, modifying a human shirt to fit a dog will be the responsibility of the human companion “because many dogs cannot using sewing machines,” Sprilo explained.

Will Puppy Scouts have awards and ranks?

Absolutely. Puppy Scouts aligned with a Cub Scout pack will earn Puppy Loops that will slide onto their collar.

There will be more than a dozen Puppy Loops in the first wave, and Sprilo told me about three:

  • Dry as a Bone: Prove to your human companion that you are properly housetrained by going two weeks without an accident.
  • Shoe Got It: Find at least one pair of your human companion’s shoes. Destroy them.
  • So Fetch: Retrieve your human companion’s copy of Boys’ Life from the mailbox. Deliver it to him with as little slobber on the pages as possible.

Puppy Scouts aligned with a Boy Scout troop, meanwhile, earn Puppy Badges. These share names (and emblems) with Boy Scout merit badges but have alternate, canine-friendly requirements. For example:

  • Mammal Study: Chase at least three different species of small animals, such as squirrels, rabbits or birds.
  • Crime Prevention: Wake your human companion with loud barking any time there’s a passing car or unusual noise outside. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Climbing: Ignore what your human companion has told you and summit as many pieces of furniture as you can before getting caught.

Surprisingly, the Dog Care merit badge is not included in the first batch of Puppy Badges.

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OK, but what about Kitten Scouts?

No.


Photos by Marcie Rodriguez/BSA

83 Comments

  1. I admit, I’m a little disappointed in this one. Last year’s merit badge one caused a lot of ruckus in my council. This one, not even a little fooled.

  2. What…no Kitten Scouts? Join me in writing to to the Chief to advocate on behalf of our feline friends!

      • Kitty Scouts – potential program requirements:

        Nap Taking merit badge
        Dead Animal Gift MB
        Meowing Etiquette MB
        Pouncing Techniques MB
        Fancy Food Rejection MB
        Self-Protection from Young Children and Other Pets protocols
        Lap Petting time requirement
        Window Sill Watching requirement
        World Domination Plot Project

        The list goes on… the possibilities are endless!

  3. Lol! You got me last year—-your good! although I didn’t fall for this one—I do wish this one was not a April fools though!

  4. Had me going for a second 😉 Although, it’d be a heck of lot easier for me to be able to bring my dog on campouts instead of having to kennel her

  5. I am gathering contact info from cats interested in joining a class action suit. Really! An organization with Tigers, Bobcats and Lions discriminating against cats?

  6. I often bring my little pooch to our Troop meetings. Maybe we do need a program like this…. just don’t announce it on April 1

  7. What about a Puppy Games Merit Badge – frisbee/ball fetching, tug the rope, herding skills, etc.? Oh…and how do the puppies choose a kennel patrol leader?

  8. dogs are more easily controlled than Scouts these days. So, your prank has some merit and attract a new section of society, sponsors, activities…. Though a dog with a uniform is silly…

    • Actually, I had no issue about the dog having a uniform of some kind because service dogs usually have to wear a “vest” type uniform. And some police dogs have bullet proof vests.

  9. I have heard all morning from the cat lobbyists. I will discuss with the board. Thanks all for your support of our new initiative.

  10. Come on guys… just like Venturers where there is Cood scouting I’m sure once this Puppy Scout program kicks off they’ll come up with SOMETHING to make the Boy Scouts of America Puppy Scout program interspecies too.

  11. ha ha was reading it and thought it was real (april fools) then looked at the calender happy april fools bay every one

  12. Tree identication moved to Scout Rank.
    Skunk, porcupine, squirrel and cat added as mandatory animal identification.
    Tracking merit badge returns as bEagle-required.

  13. Following the grand tradition of all changes to the Scouting program announced in BB being met with critical questioning or worse, I offer the following comments:

    1. Can Puppy Scouts be Lion Cub Scouts? Or will their be an objection from the Kitten Scouts?

    2. Puppy Scouts CAN salute. With their hind leg up. But you don’t want that.

    3. Birds are not mammals. Squirrel!

    4. Add “Human Care” merit badge. Leatherwork might be tasty too.

    (( above offered in the spirit of fun ))

    Great job on the photoshopping!

  14. Last year I got fooled so bad, I didn’t realize it was a joke until October. Not going to happen this year!
    The highest rank in dog scouting is Beagle.

  15. Bryan, I’m glad that Puppy Scouts have been initiated! Your first illustration is that of a Border Collie. My “BC” can pitch a tent, gather wood, and sing camp songs! I think it’s about time that the puppies had their own program. I agree that uniforming will be a bit of a problem however! Keep up the good work!

  16. Creates a whole new industry. Sending my design for doggy tents to the Patent Office right now! Also including a model design with an inflatable litter box in preparation for the inevitable outcry from the felines.

  17. I’m sorry they’re only requiring the shirt. Too many human Scouts think they’re in uniform if they’re wearing the Scout shirt. I think this could validate that quality of uniforming for our traditional troops, packs, and (especially) leaders. I hope BSA will reconsider and require full uniform for our newest Scouting program.

  18. Bryan – clever writing! Marcie – wonderful photos! Part of me wants this to be real – and I’m a cat person! Still laughing over on this side of the 3rd floor… ^_^

  19. The joke is I have 3 dog’s that have been on enough camp outs with the troop they would earn the camping merit badge. They have even went to summer camp for the last two years. the only problem we had at summer camp we never knew which troop or crew’s tent they spent the night in. lol all the boys loved them…

  20. The joke is I have 3 dog’s that have been on enough camp outs with the troop they would earn the camping merit badge. They have even went to summer camp for the last two years. the only problem we had at summer camp we never knew which troop or crew tent they spent the night in. lol

    • Have they earned the rank of Tenderpaw yet?
      And what kind of court of honor will be held when they obtain the rank of Beagle Scout!

  21. What no rat scouts that’s discrimination against rat kind everywhere you all should be ashamed of yourselves, my rat has strategicly placed a rat trap where you will least expect it.

  22. Our 4 dogs have already formed their own den under our bed, it’s nice dark plus we have to give them treats to come out unless someone rings the doorbell

  23. SEARCH & RESCUE!! And with all deference to Silver Buffalo Charles Schultz, there must be a Beagle Scout rank.

  24. Apparently I am the Council’s Puppy Scout Commissioner. At least according to a Facebook post from my DE/son.

  25. No, No, No, that is not correct.
    The new program combines the Pet Care Merit Badge and the Cooking Merit Badge. The new program thus allows a Scout to earn the equivalent of two Merit Badges in one fail swoop.

  26. My service dog Portia has her own Cub Scout uniform and was made an honorary Wolf in January, after attending for four years. We will be chaperones at day-camp for our fifth year.
    I would totally enroll her in Puppy Scouts, but she sees other dogs as a threat to my safety and is aggressive towards them. And yes, I know this is just an April fools article.

  27. I thought this would be real cool. My service dog will be going on scout outings with me any way. Guess with his training. He would be Alarmed, or the Scout master. Lol

  28. Ten years ago, I worked as a Scout leader with inner-city youth who believed that dogs existed to attack people. Bringing our family’s mild-mannered pup along on Scoutings introduced the Scouts to the civilizing concepts one learns by caring for animals. We put neckerchief around her neck, and she was immediately part of the Pack. My fingers are crossed that this acclimation might help eliminate domestic violence or child abuse among their group in the future. All seriousness aside, this was a charming piece, Bryan. Thank you!

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