Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only)

Animal Rescue Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Attendance by one of our behavioral-team volunteers at the Dogs Playing for Life training.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Our behavior team (which has been almost non-existent) has grown with the addition of wonderful volunteers, two of whom now have attended the Dogs Playing for Life training. Our behavior team has since enacted playgroups to help socialize our dogs and give them more time to play and be dogs, which in turn has increased their adoptability.

How many pets did this grant help?

We typically house 30-50 dogs at any given time at our shelter. The knowledge and training gained from Dogs Playing for Life will help countless dogs that we rescue, as we can help socialize them and make their stay here positive and hopefully get them forever homes faster as a result.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Spiderman is a really sweet pup, but a huge ball of energy, which was making it difficult to group him with other dogs. Our behavior team continues to work with him, taking him for long walks and giving him time with other dogs in playgroups. Since that time, Spiderman’s behavior has improved and more of the sweet, goofy side that makes him so lovable has come out. He’s still quite a lot to handle, so he will need a strong owner. But he’s been able to play and hang out with other dogs and we’re hoping his forever home is just around the corner. Thank you to Dogs Playing for Life and the Petfinder Foundation for helping our behavior team and the pups in our care. It’s truly been a great help, and we hope to be able to send others and continue to grow the behavior team. Meet Spiderman: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39269335

Grand County Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant money was used for me to participate in a Dogs Playing for Life mentorship at the Longmont Humane Society.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant helped me learn how to utilize playgroups. We have the area, but we have never implemented this program. I am looking forward to showing my volunteers and staff how the program works. We have only one dog at the shelter at this time, so we are not able to do any group play yet.

How many pets did this grant help?

Hopefully all the dogs that come to our shelter

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This will help all of our dogs at the shelter so they can interact while here. Keeping them busy and their minds stimulated will tire them out. The staff and our volunteers will get to learn more of each dog’s personality as we see them interact with other dogs. And we will have a better understanding of where to place him/her — a quiet home, an active home, etc..

Marion County Dog Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

It paid for my DPFL mentorship training at Austin Pets Alive! from Sept. 11-15, 2018.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

I learned some new techniques and gained more confidence in my abilities. I feel more comfortable running multiple playgroups and working with dogs who have more-challenging behavior issues. I was able to come home and get started working with some of our more-challenging dogs and I was able to help several of them gain better dog-to-dog skills. I have been able to have more confidence in my ability to train our volunteers to help me run my playgroups and to be able to explain to them what behaviors I am seeing in the yard and why I might be making the decisions to move or to not move dogs in or out of the play yard. I have gotten some great feedback from my volunteers.

How many pets did this grant help?

So far 4-6, but I am still working with dogs currently as well.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

We had Ace, a 3-year-old bulldog mix, who had selective dog-to-dog skills, but with what I learned at my mentorship, I was able to get him to the point to where he was playing with five other dogs unmuzzled. Ace was adopted and is doing well. We also had Diego, a 4-year-old bulldog mix, who was also selective and a status-seeking male. I was able to work with him to the point where I could take his muzzle off as well, and he could play with a smaller group of dogs, just no intact males. I had trained them both on Gentle Leaders and their adopters purchased those devices when they were adopted. I’ve included pictures of both Diego (fawn) and Ace (black and white). I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity to learn and grow. I am studying now to take my test to become a CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed).

Dane County Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The funding from the Petfinder Foundation was used to cover the admission costs for one DCHS employee to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Attending the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program inspired our staff to create a consistent play schedule for dogs in our care. Now playgroups are solidified as a program within DCHS’s Canine Behavior Team (CBT). Playgroups have allowed many shelter dogs who appear to be fearful in their kennels to come out of their shells and act like different dogs once they’re in the play yards. We’ve seen dogs blossom during their stay with us, and dogs with long lengths-of-stay have the opportunity to relieve stress from daily shelter life and act like “regular” dogs again. This has been extremely helpful for ensuring that our dogs remain dog social during their time at the shelter, and that they continue having positive interactions and experiences with other dogs once they are adopted.

Playgroups have also been beneficial for DCHS’s adoption and behavior teams. Seeing dogs interact with each other helps us identify what lifestyle may be best for each individual dog, and what pet personalities each dog will have the most positive interactions with. This had led to more successful adoptions and has reduced the amount of returns due to the dog being a “bad match” for the family.

How many pets did this grant help?

30

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Calvin arrived at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) as a stray found in the city of Fitchburg back in July. He was very thin, had areas of scarring on his front paws, and wasn’t neutered. Once Calvin was neutered and medically cleared, he was enrolled in the Canine Behavior Modification Program and had his first playgroup experience. Calvin was severely under-socialized and defensively aggressive towards other dogs his size. The Canine Behavior Team (CBT) decided to introduce Calvin to one of our smallest, but friendliest and wiggliest, dogs.

Once Calvin got out to the yard, he became a different dog. He was play bowing and jumping up and down with excitement. Within two weeks, Calvin became one of our best playgroup participants! He longed for playgroup each day he was at the shelter, and genuinely enjoyed playing with every dog who entered the yard.

While Calvin’s playing abilities and socialization improved, he was still waiting for the right person to come through the shelter to bring him to his forever home. In September, a spot opened up at a partner rescue organization, Happily Ever After, and CBT decided he was the best candidate to go since he had already had such a long length-of-stay at DCHS. Soon after Calvin was transferred to Happily Ever After, he was adopted into a loving home. Playgroups helped Calvin blossom while at DCHS and set him up for success for when he finally went home with his future family.

Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money from this grant was applied to the cost of tuition for a staff member from the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA to attend a mentorship program through Dogs Playing for Life at the Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, CO.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The grant helped our organization and the pets in our care by teaching valuable enrichment and training techniques at a well-respected organization. Customizing that knowledge for our facility’s needs by training our staff and volunteers helps to provide better, more consistent enrichment and training for the dogs in our care. By providing enrichment through well-managed playgroups and giving the dogs in our care basic training, we are able to meet their social and mental needs, which makes their time at our shelter until they are adopted more enjoyable and less stressful for them. Additionally, through playgroups and training, we are able to learn more about each dog’s personality, which helps our adoptions staff communicate to potential adopters a dog’s needs in order to match dogs with a suitable, long lasting home.

How many pets did this grant help?

Approximately 40-50 dogs per week are eligible to participate in playgroups.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Tweedle and Reno are two dogs who have greatly benefited from the enrichment provided by playgroups. Tweedle (first and second photos) is 3.5-year-old bully-breed mix who was transferred to AAWL from a rural shelter in southwest Arizona. He had been returned twice through no fault of his own. This high-energy, goofy boy is a rock star in playgroups and it’s always the highlight of his day to frolic with his friends. Tweedle knows sit, lie down, and shake, and is learning door manners. Without playgroups and training, Tweedle would probably suffer from breaking down due to kennel stress. Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/43017227

Reno (third photo and with Tweedle in the fourth photo) is a 2-year-old border collie mix who was transferred to AAWL after coming out of a hoarding situation in Nevada. Reno had had nearly no socialization with people and would panic and chew through leashes. After we gave him time to settle into the shelter environment, Reno learned to walk on a leash and quickly became a favorite dog to bring to playgroups. Being in playgroups has helped shelter staff identify a people-friendly dog to kennel with Reno, which has helped continue his socialization. Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/42991465

Los Angeles Animal Services: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant funds were used to cover the tuition cost for Thomas Kalinowski to attend a Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant helped Animal Services with the costs associated with sending a kennel supervisor to attend a Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program and begin a playgroup program within Animal Services. Thomas has been conducting playgroups at the East Valley Animal Services Center several times a week when he has the staff and volunteers to assist. This grant has allowed more than 100 dogs to get our of their kennels and be exercised and socialized. https://youtu.be/FEWyl_ecSvA

How many pets did this grant help?

over 100

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Marsha, a Siberian husky, came to the East Valley Animal Services Center on Sept. 15, 2018, as a stray dog. She was initially very mouthy and, when she was with a group of dogs, she would become overwhelmed, tuck her tail and try to escape. Eventually the escape behavior turned to chase with other dogs in the playgroup as she gained confidence and she would at times become the chaser. Marsha was adopted and the information gathered on Marsha during playgroups was shared with her new family.

People for Pets: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used to send one of our regular volunteers to the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship program in Longmont, Colorado.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

She came back with a lot of new knowledge that has really improved our confidence and ability to have dogs socialize and meet one another in a much safer fashion than what was previously done here. We have happier dogs during their stay, as most are now able to interact with others for play and socialization! The shelter dogs would normally have been alone when let out, which was done for safety, but was not necessary in most cases. It also allows us to observe dogs with one another and be better able to inform potential adopters on how the dog plays and what types of dogs it will interact better with.

How many pets did this grant help?

Endless. We typically have 15-20 dogs in the shelter, but this training will continue to help all the dogs that come through the shelter.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Jazzy was a Lab mix who came to our shelter from a domestic-abuse situation, where she was apparently very protective of her female owner. This created some issues with Jazzy’s trust of humans and other dogs, as she came off as aggressive based on the anxiety she displayed behind her kennel door and also her demeanor when outside. After implementing the training skills we had learned through Dogs Playing for Life, we decided it was time for Jazzy to interact with another dog and she completely opened up. She played and ran and was much less tense around the handlers at the shelter. We think this definitely helped in the lead-up to her adoption, as we had a happier dog, and the adopter felt good about letting Jazzy meet her own dog. The meeting ultimately went wonderfully and Jazzy now has her forever home!

Routt County Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Since we have implemented playgroups in our shelter, this program has helped decrease stress and anxiety levels in our dogs. It has provided valuable insight into how dogs interact with one another, allowing staff to find better adoption placements. This helps us better inform people as to the dog’s natural play style so that adopters can be aware of it and don’t mistake play for aggression. Playgroups also allow us to better assess each animal’s dog/dog behavior.

How many pets did this grant help?

35 since August 1, 2018 — the start of the program

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This program has significantly helped one of our long-term residents, Kirby. Kirby came to us as a transfer from a rural shelter. He was adopted out and returned a while later due to his reactivity towards vehicles. Kirby has been in training during his stay with us and we are pleased with his progress and the role playgroups have played in it. The ability to socialize and interact with other dogs has given him an outlet to decrease stress and satisfy his social needs. Kirby gets along with most dogs and enjoys active play sessions. We have utilized playgroups after training sessions to help him retain what he has just learned. We have noticed that this is particularly helpful in Kirby’s case. Staff have noticed that regular play sessions with different playmates has reduced Kirby’s stress and increased his focus during training sessions. Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/41100493

Napa County Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Mentorship for Aimee Sadler’s Dogs Playing for Life training program.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Our lead person for DPFL had been bit pretty seriously in the face. This frightened some of my other volunteers and they would not assist him with playgroups. Since he went to the mentorship, we had added two more volunteers to the playgroups. We are striving to promote the playgroups in our volunteer orientation and going out to gyms and other businesses to see if we can gain some more volunteers to assist with DPFL.

How many pets did this grant help?

90 dogs since July 2018

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Cali came to us on a bite quarantine in the beginning of March 2018. The owners did not want her back. We evaluated her and placed her up for adoption. At first, she was not comfortable with other dogs. We have had her in playgroups with large dogs and now we have found that her true passion is to hang out with all the little dogs, young and old. She is very kind and gentle with them, with no reactivity at all. She is a great dog. Meet her: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/41289509

Humane Educational Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used to pay the tuition for a Dogs Playing for Life mentorship in Longmont, Colorado.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant helped by allowing me the opportunity to attend the mentorship and learn the protocols of the DPFL program, thus giving me the knowledge and tools to implement safe and effective playgroups for the dogs at our shelter.

How many pets did this grant help?

Since starting the playgroups in July, we have had approximately 150 different dogs come out for our playgroups. Each week, more dogs are added to the list of those approved for playgroups, so the number continues to grow.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Zane was a dog who especially benefited from this grant. For a while, he was labeled as a dog who could not be out with other dogs. He was at our shelter for several months hoping to find a forever home. Once we introduced him to playgroups, however, we found that he was one of the most playful, social, and dog-friendly dogs ever. In fact, he became a Playgroup Rock Star and helper dog. Because we learned more about his true personality through playgroups, Zane was able to go on a transport to Wisconsin and was adopted within a week of being there.

Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

This grant funded one volunteer to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive!

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Since training an additional person to help lead our playgroups, we are able to run more playgroup sessions than before. This means that more dogs get to participate and each dog participates more times per week than before.

How many pets did this grant help?

100+

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Bosco was a long-term resident at our shelter. This beautiful dog was a total love bug; he just didn’t show well. He was a black, squared-headed boy with scars all over his body — not the first choice for someone. In playgroups, however, he was the star of the show. He loved to run and play with his doggy friends, and his goofy, affectionate, and playful personality was bigger than any of his scars. Bosco is adopted now and we hope having the time of his life!

Conway Area Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

To attend a Dogs Playing For Life Mentorship training session

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

It has helped us conduct playgroups with dogs to increase social skills and facilitate behavior modification.

How many pets did this grant help?

50

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Sierra (first photo) is a dog who had been at the shelter for several months prior to my attendance at the mentorship training session. After returning, I was able to use the skills I had learned to work with her reactivity and aggression toward other dogs. Slowly, we were able to progress from high arousal and reactivity just at the sight of other dogs to her being able to be off-muzzle and off-leash with select dogs in playgroup. One week after reaching this milestone, she was adopted!

Wilson County Animal Control: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Tuition for me to attend DPFL mentorship training May 21 through May 24, 2018 at Longmont Humane Society.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The DPFL mentorship was wonderful: I learned how to read the dogs, and how to put them together to play and have fun together. Socializing the dogs has also helped us to get more of them adopted. It is also a wonderful feeling to work with my employees and teach them what I learned and then see them with the dogs and everyone is so happy, playing and laughing.

How many pets did this grant help?

We have adopted out or sent to rescue several dogs since implementing DPFL who otherwise would have been overlooked or euthanized. I want to add that we have euthanized only three dogs since attending DPFL; two were injured and one was vicious. This was in June and July 2018. In April and May 2018, we euthanized 29. So this is an amazing turnaround for us.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Willow is an Australian shepherd-type who was picked up as a stray; she was unruly, jumped on you and was prey-driven with the smaller dogs and the cats, but she loved playing with the bigger dogs. With what I learned at the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship, my staff and I were able to work with Willow daily, and she progressed beautifully. No jumping, no leash-pulling; she learned how to heel and sit and she also learned that the smaller dogs were just as much fun to play with as the bigger ones. Willow just wanted to please you, and of course wanted all the love and attention you were willing to give her.

Several months ago, we had a young gentleman looking for an Aussie type; we would call him every time we got an Aussie in, but they were like Willow: jumpy and unruly and did not like small dogs or cats. When we called Cory about Willow he said, “No, I don’t think so,” but I said, “Please just come and meet her. I know in my heart she is the one for you.”

Cory came in and YES! They just fell in love with each other, and now they are inseparable. Willow goes everywhere with Cory, and gets along beautifully with Cory’s wife’s little dachshund, Lacy.

Thank you, Petfinder Foundation and DPFL, for helping me so I could help them.

Red Desert Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

$1,000 grant to attend the Dogs Playing for Life training in Longmont, Colorado, in May of 2018

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

It was extremely useful to gain insight into behavior types and play styles of the animals. It has assisted us at the shelter to recognize behavior, and compose playgroups accordingly. Learning how to transition the dogs out of cages was very helpful as well. The training gave me more information on training volunteers to assist with playgroups.

How many pets did this grant help?

It has helped every dog in the shelter currently, and all those coming to us in the future! The training will be useful for years to come, and will benefit all our babies!

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Samson (first photo) is learning his manners and not rushing in and out of his cage when we transition him. He is getting better with his eye contact and learning to behave on his leash. He’s learning to play with other dogs out in the yard. He is a great big boy who is difficult to handle if you don’t have the proper training. We are grateful to the Petfinder Foundation for the DPFL grant! Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/41707414

Another dog who benefited from my training at DPFL was Sabbath (second photo). Sabbath didn’t do well with other dogs. So after training, and watching his style of play and interaction, we were able to discern the type and size of dog that Sabbath could play with. Sabbath was adopted into a family with smaller dogs whom he is able to get along with.

Humane Society of Southeast Missouri: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

To send someone to learn to conduct dog playgroups

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We sent a staff member to DPFL mentorship.

How many pets did this grant help?

Hundreds

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Kayla is a shy gal who, in playgroup, is learning to do better with people and pets.

Second Chance Pet Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We were awarded a Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program Grant in the amount of $1,000. We used it to cover our attendance fee for the mentorship at Austin Pets Alive! from Feb. 27-March 2, 2018.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The grant gave us access to the training and experience we needed to build bigger and better playgroups for Corning’s shelter dogs. We now have the tools and skills to safely increase the duration, size and frequency of our playgroups; the confidence to recruit and train other playgroup volunteers; and most importantly, the skills to socialize our more selective dogs. We also now have a catch pen and a more secure yard for the dogs to play in.

How many pets did this grant help?

42 dogs have benefited from our playgroup training since March 3.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Sampson was brought into the Corning Animal Shelter as a stray over two and a half years ago. He is a quiet, gentle, slow-moving guy, but because of his size, appearance, and his description, which says he must be the only pet in the home, Sampson has had very little interest from prospective adopters. Hopefully that will change soon, because for the first time in over two years, he is now getting the chance to socialize with other dogs. We are taking it nice and slow, but so far, so good. Here are a few pictures of his first time romping around with another dog. For more info on Sampson, please visit http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/38752037

MCPAWS Regional Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

This grant was used to send Shelter Manager Christa Brown to the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship from May 21-24 at Longmont Humane Society.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant trained our shelter manager in how to conduct large dog playgroups safely. This grant will allow MCPAWS to conduct large dog playgroups and provide more enrichment for the dogs in our care. Our shelter manager is training volunteers and staff members with the valuable information she learned during her mentorship.

How many pets did this grant help?

Nearly 300 dogs each year who come through our doors!

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Before the mentorship at Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL), Niko had no friends and was very dog-reactive. We were very concerned his dog reactivity was not going to go away. After DPFL and with the tools that Christa learned and was able to implement, Niko now has a play friend and his dog reactivity has been reduced! We are beyond excited for Niko and so thankful for this opportunity. Thank you, Petfinder Foundation! Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40531857

Ozarks Kat and K9 Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Money was used to send Debbie Cook to training in Austin. She attended a four-day class with Dogs Playing for Life.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Debbie received and passed on much-needed additional knowledge on group size and make-up, as well as general guidelines for dog playgroups.

How many pets did this grant help?

Short-term, 28. Long-term, undetermined

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Fernando was a sad story. He was surrendered to us because the family lived in a very cold area in South Dakota and their vet said Fernando’s feet had been injured to the point that he could no longer be in that severe winter environment. Fernando just couldn’t understand why his family had left him. His behavior changed for the worse. We introduced him to playgroups. Initially, he didn’t interact with or want to be a part of the group, but we did not give up. On his fourth day, the light switch came on and he started to pick friends and even become somewhat of a play leader with the other dogs. His previous family had such high hopes for him, even writing a letter to his future new family members. Finally, the day we’d all hoped for happened and the perfect family came along looking for big playful house dog! Fernando had struck gold!

Texas Humane Heroes: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant award was used to send our team member, Taylor, to the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program at Austin Pets Alive! in April.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant helped our adoption team gain confidence in its ability to safely conduct playgroups, greatly benefiting our adoptable dogs. Taylor learned a great deal about dog behavior, play styles and confidently running playgroups. She enjoyed seeing many dogs relax and show their personalities by being around other dogs. Taylor and the group worked on fancy footwork as well as dog assessments. One of the most important pieces of knowledge for her was to learn not to micromanage the different ways that dogs communicate with each other.

How many pets did this grant help?

Texas Humane Heroes adopts about 1,500 to 1,800 dogs per year (1,000 of them are adults), and the goal is to help them all. Taylor has already begun implementing more playgroups in smaller numbers, and she’s working on growing daily.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Blue (first photo) and Bob are two dogs whom Taylor recently paired together in a playgroup. Bob is a young pup whose sister was adopted, leaving him lonely and scared. Taylor paired him with Blue in a playgroup to open up his personality, but also to teach him good manners. A few days after Taylor started working with these two great dogs, Bob found his home (second photo)! Blue is still patiently waiting and being paired with different dogs to help them through their time in the shelter environment. Meet Blue: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/41343769

Paws Ranch Rescue & Animal Sanctuary: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Tuition for DPFL Mentorship at Austin Pets Alive! from April 10-13, 2018

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We learned valuable skills and now run daily playgroups. Each dog gets out of their kennel every day and engaged with other dogs. This is very beneficial, both physically and socially.

How many pets did this grant help?

So far this grant has helped all 30 of the pets currently at our shelter.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Star came to our rescue as a 12-week-old pup. She was passed over initially due to the high number of purebred Lab puppies we had available at the time. While staying at the shelter for six months, her social skills suffered and she became barrier-reactive. While we were still at the mentorship, we began to asses Star for playgroup. Once back in San Antonio, we let her play with other dogs her size and energy level. A few days later, a couple came to see Star. They were so impressed with her social skills that they adopted her right away. She is very happy at her new home, actively engaging in appropriate play.

Humane Society of Harris County: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Tuition for DPFL mentorship

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The mentorship gave myself and another staffer the skills and confidence to begin the evaluation process of our dogs and to start playgroups on a regular basis for the first time. In addition, it offered us the ability to create volunteer training specifically for playgroups that will help us reach our ultimate goal of “every dog, every day.” Unexpectedly, our time at Austin Pets Alive! also exposed us to their procedures and protocols, which, we discovered, offered excellent solutions to some of the shortfalls we felt existed in our facility.

How many pets did this grant help?

We have approximately 22 dogs at the Adoption Center at any one time. With only a few exceptions, we have gotten most of these dogs into a playgroup of some size. In addition, we have brought a few dogs from Animal Control over for evaluation.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

White Walker is a pit-bull mix who had been at our facility for nearly six months. On leash, he presented as dog-reactive. He also had become more and more kennel-protective the longer he stayed with us. White Walker was one of the first “challenge” dogs we introduced to the playgroups on our return from APA. We discovered a playful and balanced dog with a mild selectivity to some male dogs. His intimidating kennel behavior also diminished after getting into playgroups. White Walker was adopted within four weeks of starting playgroups, and his adopter reported just two days ago that he is doing wonderfully at his new home.

Blue Mountain Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

A mentorship with Dog Playing for Life in Austin, TX, hosted by Austin Pets Alive!

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The mentorship was to guide me to learn the Dog Playing for Life guidelines and playgroups. This has allowed me to come back to my shelter and implement playgroups almost daily. I came back and taught more staff members how to run playgroups so they can continue when I am unable to run a playgroup. Some staff members were here when DPFL came to our shelter, but many of us were not. Going to this mentorship helped me understand how a playgroup runs and how it benefits the dogs in the shelter. It has helped with adoptions as well. We have learned more about the dogs and helped them find homes with that knowledge.

How many pets did this grant help?

This will help at least 1,000 dogs as we continue through the year

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Buddy was a pit bull who came to us as a stray. Pit bulls can be harder to place, as they are pretty common in most shelters. Buddy held out his stray period, was neutered, and then moved to the adoption floor. After healing from his surgery, he was able to be in a playgroup. He did great! After just two playgroups, a gentleman was watching the playgroup and decided Buddy was the dog for him. He adopted him! It was all thanks to the playgroup. The adopter had no dogs at home, and wasn’t even looking for a dog when he came by the dog park that day. The playgroup got his attention and Buddy found a home. It was a good day!

Corridor Rescue, Inc.: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We sent two kennel employees to the three-day Dogs Playing for Life mentorship session at Austin Pets Alive! to learn how to integrate our rescue dogs into playgroups safely.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We currently have a kennel facility that houses up to 30 dogs. Most of the dogs in our care at the kennel were not in foster homes due to either unknown or known restrictions with other dogs. They had outside time, but were unsocialized with other dogs. This grant allowed our two staff members to begin integrating rescued street dogs who were once thought to be “dog aggressive” into playgroups ranging from two to eight dogs. This has not only allowed us to reevaluate our dogs’ ability to be adopted into a home with other dogs, but has also increased each dog’s time spent outside his or her private kennel. We have seen destructive behaviors diminish as well as the dogs’ overall temperament improve! These playgroups have allowed us to better present our dogs to potential adopters and adopt out into multi-dog households dogs who before would have been labeled “only-dog.”

How many pets did this grant help?

30-60 currently, but it will continue to help every dog we rescue going forward.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

The most dramatic story is about Bo and Gypsy. Bo (the brown-and-white dog in the photos) is actually our rescue mascot. He is the dog on our logo. He was a solitary male out on the streets for over three years before he was rescued. We’d had two encounters with him going after another dog on a lead, so we had deemed him “dog-aggressive.” Gypsy (the black dog in the photos) was in a foster home initially and we were told by that foster when she returned to the kennel that she too was dog-aggressive. With the tools gained at the DPFL mentorship session, our two staff members slowly introduced Bo and Gypsy. To everyone’s delight, the pair hit it off very well and are now rowdy playmates. Both are still looking for their forever homes.
Meet Gypsy: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40619435
Meet Bo: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/37029153

Panhandle Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The $1,000 grant was used to pay the tuition for the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program held Dec. 5-8, 2017, in Austin, TX, at the Austin Pets Alive! facility.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The grant made it possible for me to attend the mentorship training. The training gave me hands-on experience in running playgroups from highly experienced trainers.

How many pets did this grant help?

We currently have 20 dogs available for adoption at our shelter. The training the grant provided will help these dogs and future dogs coming into our facility.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

J.J. is 1-year-old hound mix (first and second photos) who has been with us since Nov. 10, 2017. By mid-December, his behavior started to change to where he tugged and pulled on walks and barked at anything and everything in his kennel and outside. When he was first introduced to playgroup, he’d nip at and grab at the other dogs in the group and they’d respond by correcting his behavior. The training taught me to let that happen. Lots of teeth, lots of noise, then lots of play. Staff and volunteers have commented on his behavior improvement in and out of his kennel. He is becoming a much more adoptable dog because of participation in playgroup. Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39960634

West Feliciana Animal Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Mentorship with Dogs Playing for Life.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Training to have our dogs playing together in the play yard. Meeting potential adopters or fosters in the play yard with other dogs.

How many pets did this grant help?

39

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Meet Louise, a whippet mix with lots of energy. At first, we thought Louise might be deaf. She did not have interest in anyone or respond to anyone. Once she was introduced to other dogs in the play yard, she changed into a playful young pup. Her personality was lovely. Louise found her forever home in another state and was transported with a rescue group.

Saving Grace Pet Adoption Center: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Grant funds paid the tuition for Destiny Bennett to attend the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship in Longmont, Colorado.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Destiny Bennett gained a great deal of knowledge on how to implement playgroups through the mentorship. Though an animal-care tech when she attended, Destiny was promoted to kennel manager within two weeks of her return to the shelter. Destiny described the experience as having completely changed her perspective on caring for dogs in a shelter. Not only did she learn how to conduct playgroups, she also learned that, through playgroups, we can save more animals by getting a better assessment of barrier reactions and dog-dog interactions. Prior to attending, behavioral assessments of dog aggression were performed only with leashed dogs. Dogs showing aggression during these assessments were often euthanized. Based on the training, assessment of dog aggression can be done safely without barriers giving a skewed perspective on the dog’s true behavior. Destiny is teaching the staff and volunteers to look beyond the barrier frustration to see the dog’s true personality. We now place these dogs on the adoption floor, and convey information about barrier-based behavior to potential adopters and encourage them to meet the dog outside the kennel.

Learning how to safely conduct playgroups has, of course, given us the ability to get dogs out for socialization and exercise. This has reduced stress and barking in the kennels, improving conditions for all the dogs and making the kennels more appealing for potential adopters to linger. Playgroups have kept dogs from getting kennel-stressed during extended stays.

Destiny’s experience during the mentorship gave her the skills to better know the shelter dogs and facilitate meet-and-greets with potential adopters’ current dogs. Thus we have discouraged several problematic matches, with the confidence that our dog could safely and sanely wait for the right home – and we recognized a good match when that family arrived.

Beyond these dog-specific skills, Destiny’s participation has given her additional leadership skills, taught her better teamwork skills with strangers including communicating as a leader, offered her the chance to experience another animal shelter and spend time among dog trainers. Playgroups have provided a better setting for teaching dog behavior to staff, building volunteer involvement, and improving the public’s perception of shelter care. Destiny’s mentorship has been a catalyst for tremendous improvement at Saving Grace. We are very grateful, and have renewed energy for continuing our efforts.

How many pets did this grant help?

Directly, at least 50 dogs have benefited thus far. This number continues to grow as playgroups continue, and the indirect benefits to other dogs are innumerable.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Artemis was surrendered by her owner in a basket muzzle. Her owner stated that she couldn’t digest food properly and would eat anything without the muzzle. Without vet records supporting this claim, we evaluated the emaciated dog and started her on a re-feeding regimen. During this slow process, Artemis was able to go out to play. For the young husky/saluki mix, exercise and socialization were vital to keeping her happy and socialized. Though she was extremely stressed when she first arrived, Artemis’s behavior improved during her stay, as did her health. After almost six weeks in our care, Artemis was declared ready for adoption. Today, in fact, was her adoption day! Artemis had a very successful meet-and-greet with two senior dachshunds. They were less than excited about meeting such a large, bouncy dog, but Artemis had learned a great deal in playgroups and respected their rebuff. She turned her playful attentions to the humans, and a match was made! Thank you for the training to implement playgroups, which gave our staff (and our dogs) the skills to save lives like Artemis’s. Her Petfinder profile: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40357299

Wenatchee Valley Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing For Life tuition

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant gave us the ability to create a new program and position for our shelter dogs. The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society (WVHS) is using Dogs Playing for Life techniques. We have now implemented this program for our shelter dogs. We will be using DPFL daily. A new position was created just for enrichment. Karen Headlee, the behavioral specialist and DPFL attendee, will be operating this program. Karen will be spending 3+ hours per day with 8-10 dogs doing playgroups. The goal is to get every one of these dogs out and socializing. They are already showing improvement and are becoming more adoptable with each session.We are grateful to the Petfinder Foundation for this opportunity!

How many pets did this grant help?

This grant has helped approximately 12 dogs so far. The goal is 4-5 playgroups per day with 8-10 dogs involved.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This grant helped Athena (first two photos). This beautiful dog was adopted as a puppy and returned because of landlord issues. She was then adopted by a woman who loved her, but ended up having domestic-violence issues (and possible drug issues as well) and became homeless. Our Pets for Life program housed Athena for two weeks and her owner picked her up. They lived homeless for a few months and when the owner found a temporary place to stay, she couldn’t take Athena. We took care of Athena for three weeks, but the owner never came back for her. Athena went up for adoption and is still adoptable. She is a sweet dog, but never learned stability or what it means to live in a house with loving pet parents. Dogs Playing for Life is helping Athena learn boundaries and socialization. She is doing very well and will make a great addition to a new family. Meet her: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39904770

Cache Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Petfinder Foundation support was used to send our dog kennel manager, Maygan Jiminez, to Longmont, Colorado, for a mentorship with the Dogs Playing for Life program. We are now hosting shelter-wide dog playgroups four mornings per week with a team of trained staff and volunteers.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We’ve observed a significant reduction in shelter stress and related health problems. Our dogs are happier and more easily approachable by adopters. We’ve also begun using observational forms during playgroups to create better personality profiles for our shelter dogs. Our new profiles help us find the perfect homes.

How many pets did this grant help?

800

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Zero (first photo) came in extremely under-socialized and displayed nervous reactivity with other dogs and staff. We knew he had potential, but we weren’t sure how to bring it out safely and positively. We slowly introduced him to playgroups and he is now officially recognized as a playgroup rock star, an honor reserved for dogs who help newcomers and nervous dogs feel comfortable and welcome and playgroups. We are confident that his status as an exceptional dog-buddy will help him find the perfect home. Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39731875

Humane Society of Northeast Georgia: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

In the first six months of 2017, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia held a crowdfunding campaign to raise monies to build a brand new outdoor play area for our rescued canines. Our campaign was successful, and the Bark Park opened in June. One of our considerations when we were building the Bark Park was building yards large enough to host playgroups, and we spoke about this opportunity during the fundraising process. I was familiar with Dogs Playing for Life and had already been in contact with them about training opportunities for our team, so when the mentorship opportunity became available, it was like a blessing for us! We applied, were accepted, and in early November, our Adoption Center manager, Yesenia, went to Austin Pets Alive! to train. She came back full of knowledge, and has been working out protocols and training schedules for playgroups.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Last week, we had our first “test run” playgroup with two adult dogs and it went perfectly! We are so excited for this new enrichment opportunity for the rescues in our care and cannot wait to see the impact it will have on their lives while with us as well as their adoptability. We are very grateful to the Petfinder Foundation for this opportunity to learn best practices for playgroups so that we can implement them safely and effectively. We hope to be able to have a future opportunity to send another team member to train as our program grows.

How many pets did this grant help?

100

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This summer, HSNEGA was awarded the Dogs Playing for Life (DPLF) Mentorship Program Grant by the Petfinder Foundation! Thanks to this grant, Yesenia, HSNEGA’s Adoption Center Coordinator (far right, standing), was able to attend this program in Austin, Texas, this past week. “I will always be tremendously grateful for the opportunity to work with the DPFL team. They do amazing work and their passion is truly admirable,” Yesenia says. “I look forward to starting playgroups with our dogs and seeing them transform into more stress-free, happier dogs.” HSNEGA cannot wait to hear and implement all of the wonderful things Yesenia learned while attending this mentorship program! Thank you again to the Petfinder Foundation and DPFL for this “paw-some” opportunity!

Easel Animal Rescue League: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used for one person’s tuition for a four-day mentorship for Dogs Playing for Life at the Longmont Humane Society in Colorado.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The knowledge and skills gained at the training allowed the trainer to share the same to some extent with the shelter manager and two other volunteers at the shelter. We see the benefits of the tools that were learned at the training, so we have ordered the following tools: A set of walkie-talkies, two air horns, two Pet Corrector sprays, two Spray Shields, a cattle paddle, and two break sticks. We plan to incorporate a more formal training session on playgroups within safe limits with two or three volunteers upon receiving the above. In the meantime, we have incorporated the skills learned for dog mediation in playgroups multiple times with two dogs, and couple of times with three dogs.

How many pets did this grant help?

We performed playgroups with four dogs at our shelter with the tools we have so far. Upon receiving the required ordered tools, we would be able to adapt the techniques to our current 10 adoptable dogs, with a capacity of about 16 at the shelter.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This is the first attempt that we had with more than two dogs in the play yard together. We knew that they were balanced enough to get along as a group. We used the tools we have so far (water squirt bottles, shake cans made out of bottles with rocks in them, and Pet Correct spray with compressed air) to manage and interrupt any negative behavior in those dogs during play. This activity helped Legend (first photo); Pippi, the white-and-tan female; and Athena, a brown-and-white female. Since Legend did not respond to the water bottle because he loved to lick the water, the shake can helped him. We clearly observed that Legend and Pippi are able to properly understand other dogs and get more mental stimulation and better exercise, instead of playing on their own without specific corrective actions. We also attempted a two-dog playgroup with Pippi and Dante, who were not used to each other yet, and the shake can worked great to interrupt their negative behavior.

Meet our adoptable dogs currently in training:
1. Legend: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39776558
2. Pippi: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39955656
3. Athena: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39529000

Front Street Animal Shelter - City of Sacramento: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

We sent two employees to Longmont, Colorado, to spend four days actively learning about and practicing dog playgroups. As a result, we have been doing dog playgroups in our shelter since their return. We have established protocols and procedures which both staff and volunteers adhere to.

How many pets did this grant help?

From Oct. 18-Nov. 29, 101 dogs were helped by playgroups. Most of these dogs are single-kenneled in our back kennels, primarily due to our being able to pair them up successfully in our multi-dog kennels. We have experienced a quantifiable increase in dog save rates in a very short period of time. In October and November 2016, our dog save rate was 83 and 82% respectively. In October and November 2017, the save rate for dogs was 87% and 86% respectively.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

We recently partnered with a local pet-friendly technology company (RedTail) that allows its employees to foster shelter dogs and bring them to work. Jack had recently been introduced to playgroups. He had been kenneled in the back of our shelter and would most certainly not have been identified as the first dog to go to RedTail had we not been doing playgroups. Jack is a typical black-and-white pit-type dog, of which we have many. Playgroups allowed us to see his true personality. As it turns out, Jack was completely trained, and social with people and other dogs (of all sizes). Jack was our first RedTail success and really a light-bulb moment for our staff. He has been adopted by an employee of RedTail, goes to work every day and is a shining example of what can happen when dogs participate in playgroups!

Downtown Dog Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship at Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, TX.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

As the kennel manager, I socialize our adoptable dogs. I lacked the skills and confidence to do this properly. I’m now able to successfully conduct playgroups on a daily basis. This reduces the anxiety and stress of our dogs. They are able to play and socialize while I learn more about their personalities. This gives me the knowledge to properly place them in forever homes and save more dogs from our city shelters.

How many pets did this grant help?

Dozens, and counting

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

LuLu is a black, adult pit bull who had a slim chance of making it out of the shelter. We rescued her and brought her to our kennel. I had a hard time reading her body language and was nervous about placing her in playgroups. Once I was able to learn from Dogs Playing for Life, I had the confidence and skills to get her socializing. LuLu is a wonderful dog and is now playing with dogs and less stressed in her kennel. I’m able to observe her interacting with different dogs, so I’ll be able to successfully adopt her out to the right home. She is still up for adoption; here is her link: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40034936

Second Chance For Homeless Pets: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used to send me, Jessica Walker, to the Dog’s Playing for Life mentorship program at the Longmont Humane Society in Colorado.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Through this grant I was able to attend the Dogs Playing for Life program, which we would not have been able to go to without it. What I learned I was able to share with our volunteers and employees, which has helped the dogs in our care. We have been able to put many more dogs in playgroups and more accurately understand dogs, which also helps us in finding them the perfect forever homes. The dogs have loved the implementation of the playgroups and we’ve seen many of our dogs blossom and shy dogs gain confidence. It’s wonderful to see how big a difference it has made for our dogs.

How many pets did this grant help?

20+ dogs and counting

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Calypso is one of our dogs who greatly benefited from implementing the skills and methods I learned from the Dogs Playing for Life program. She first came to us with a litter of puppies and was placed into a foster home. Her puppies all soon found forever homes. Calypso, however, was extremely shy and distrusting. She didn’t like to be touched or handled and was shut down, not even wanting to take a tasty treat from anyone. She would flee to a corner or somewhere far away from people. We worked with her for over a month and eventually she would timidly take a treat, but we didn’t make a lot of progress. She still ran away from us out in our play yards, so we had to keep a long leash on her just to catch her.

After the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship, we started implementing playgroups, something we hadn’t done much of before. As we started bringing dogs out to play, we decided to see how Calypso would do with other dogs. Much to our surprise and delight, Calypso blossomed! She adored the other dogs and loved to play! She went from shy and timid to happy and playful almost instantly. It only took a couple of playgroup sessions before we started to notice a huge change in her. She quickly grew a lot more confident around people she was familiar with. She started letting us handle her and pet her without fleeing to a corner, and happily taking treats or food from us. While she is still a bit timid at times, she has come a very long way in a short time. When we are getting ready to let dogs out for a playgroup session, she excitedly waits her turn, and she has a sweet doggy smile as she bounds after the other dogs. The other dogs were able to help her relax and gain some confidence. She’s a very sweet dog and we hope she will find her forever home soon!

Calypso has not yet found her forever home and is still available for adoption: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40084375

Animal Rescue Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training at Austin Pets Alive! Our executive director, Trevor Denham, was able to attend with the grant issued.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant gave our executive director better insight into playgroups and how to help increase the enrichment and socialization activities for our dogs at the shelter. The goal is to help increase their adoptability, and we feel the training he received was exceptional and will do just that.

How many pets did this grant help?

All of our dogs at the shelter will reap the benefits, so I’d say countless. We now have a set of skills that we can use as more dogs come in. It really is invaluable.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

We have a dog, Will, who was very anxious being in the shelter. He had lived outside all his life and wasn’t accustomed to being there. Because he was so rambunctious, we were reluctant to group him with other dogs. Our executive director took the skills he learned and was able to successfully let Will socialize with other dogs. As a result, Will now has a roommate at ARF and they get to play together during our shifts. It has helped Will tremendously.

Kokomo Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Scholarship for the Dogs Playing For Life mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, TX.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This program allows dogs to act like dogs should. They get the social interaction and enrichment they need but normally wouldn’t get in a shelter environment. We also learned quite a lot about dog behavior that will allow us to work with dogs who previously would not have been adoptable. The staff also loves either leading or just watching playgroups, so I think this program even helps with the morale of the shelter.

How many pets did this grant help?

I would say 20-25 since returning from Austin, with more being added every day.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Liberty (the white dog in the photo) was found as a stray wandering out in the county. When she first came to us, she was terrified and spent her first few days here hiding in her kennel. We introduced her to the playgroups when she became available for adoption. She was apprehensive at first, but as she watched the other dogs running and having fun, she began to come out of her shell. It was wonderful to watch her go from hiding behind our legs to running up to other dogs to get them to play with her. Meet her: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40050711

Animal Ark Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used to attend a Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship at Austin Pets Alive!

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Our dogs are happier, less stressed, more social, and more adoptable because of playgroup.

How many pets did this grant help?

167 dogs at this time

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Jess is a playgroup ROCK STAR! Jess was able to be moved from the shelter into a foster home quickly because she was very social with other dogs. She was adopted within a few short weeks of being placed into foster. Unfortunately, Jess wasn’t a good fit for her new adopters. She found her way back to Animal Ark Rescue, where she helped to introduce countless dogs to the joys of playgroup. (That includes dogs like Chess, the black Lab mix pictured with Jess in the photo. Chess is a very shy boy when it comes to humans, but he loves playgroup.) Jess was adopted last weekend during our Black Friday adoption special. She was adopted quickly because she was very social and playful. Playgroup rock stars like Jess tend to be adopted very quickly and have a decreased length of stay at the shelter.

Ark-Valley Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

This grant was used to pay for my tuition fee to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship hosted at Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colorado, from September 18-21.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The Dogs Playing for Life grant greatly impacted how we conduct playgroups and dog-to-dog introductions at my shelter, Ark-Valley Humane Society. My shelter had already been doing playgroups loosely based on the DPFL program prior to the mentorship. Some protocols that were already in place stayed the same, while others got fine-tuned. A priceless amount of knowledge regarding canine-to-canine language, proper human intervention for tense situations, and safety tools and their use was brought back to my shelter. The dogs in our care are now able to more freely express themselves and play with other dogs in a much safer and professionally conducted environment.

How many pets did this grant help?

Countless

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This grant was able to really help a 4-year-old female pit bull mix named Ginger who had been at Ark-Valley Humane Society for almost a whole year. Ginger underwent some treatment when she was first admitted to the shelter that required her to be on kennel rest for a good chunk of time. When she was done with treatment, Ginger was tested in “playgroups” that she ended up doing very poorly in, but that we later realized were misconducted on our behalf. These interactions made us believe Ginger would not successfully be able to go into a home with other dogs. Some time passed where multiple staff members observed Ginger showing very playful behavior towards other dogs through multiple chain-link fence barriers. We really wanted to test Ginger again with other dogs, but were unsure how to proceed most effectively.

After going to the Dogs Playing For Life Mentorship, my shelter was able to get some ideas on how to introduce Ginger to other dogs while being able to take proper safety precautions in the event of a fight. Very quickly we were able to graduate Ginger up to the point where she did not need a muzzle or need to drag a leash when playing with other dogs. After capturing some incredible videos of Ginger playing, we decided we needed to redo her marketing and make it our mission to get Ginger into a home before she hit her one-year anniversary living at the shelter.

We posted her on our Facebook multiple times, shared some videos of her playing with another male dog, and created an anti-anniversary photo. Within a couple of days, a new family came in and took her home. They previously had a dog that highly resembled our Ginger physically and behaviorally, so they were more than ready to take her as their own. We couldn’t be happier for Ginger finally being adopted!

It is programs like Dogs Playing for Life that show how much a shelter can do to positively influence animals’ lives inside the shelter environment and out in the real world, post-adoption. The knowledge acquired through this mentorship program has shown itself to be completely priceless. Just like the motto says, as humans, we need to see that dogs live to play, so we need to do everything we can to let them play to live!

Prairie Paws Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We were ecstatic to be able to send Tim, our director of operations, to the week-long Dogs Playing for Life mentorship at Pets Alive in Austin thanks to the grant received from the Petfinder Foundation.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Tim came back with a wealth of knowledge for the Dogs Playing for Life program. It will help get dogs out of their kennels and into playgroups, where they can have fun, work off excess energy, and learn social skills under the watchful eye of staff.

How many pets did this grant help?

This knowlege is going to help hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs that come through our shelter. Playgroups not only help keep dogs mentally healthy, they also help us get a much better idea of how a dog will behave in a home outside the shelter. Playgroups can even help with capacity-for-care issues, as kennel cleaning can be done efficiently while dogs are in their playgroups.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

This grant helped Tim, our director of operations, really, truly understand the mind of the dog — which every dog that comes through our shelter will benefit from. He can’t wait to begin sharing his knowledge with the staff.

Alpine Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training program in Longmont, CO.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Carrie Branum, our enrichment specialist, joined our organization after our onsite DPFL training. At the very least, we shared our experience with her. When she attended the training, she found out we had done a pretty good job, but there was so much more! Carrie says, “My days included getting a behind-the-scenes. The set-up at Longmont Humane Society presented a very different environment and I learned so much about meet/greet rituals, humping issues, and special pressure, and that the dogs actually switch play styles! Most importantly, I learned to utilize all the tools and techniques to support healthy and appropriate behavior for the pets AND the volunteers. The “balance training approach” uses the tools of reward and correction, which can save pets from the merry-go-round of failed adoptions or needless euthanasia. With this in-depth training, I have begun to work with our volunteer dog walkers differently and have more confidence in the playgroups than I ever thought possible. The stress of kennel life for the dogs is simply lessened and frankly, without this environment, I am not sure how the dogs could be adopted in our small community or be eligible for transport to our rescue partners. The experience has made me more eager to share this program with any and all of our dog residents, soon to be in their homes with skills to make sure they live happily ever after!”

How many pets did this grant help?

Since the inception of the DPFL program at our shelter in November 2016, 180 dogs have been adopted or transferred from our shelter. Without DPFL, this could not have happened.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Boss was surrendered to the shelter in Alpine for being “too rough” with his dog siblings. For this reason, he was initially kept separate from other dogs, though through the first DPFL training that we had had on-site, we observed him at gates with other dogs and eventually brought him into small playgroups. Boss clearly shed some of his shelter stress once he participated in playgroups, and he was a better-than-most playmate with other dogs, eventually becoming a rock star. He also showed a particularly tender heart for puppies — something the volunteers would not have tried without seeing him interact with other dogs his size first.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant monies awarded were utilized exclusively to cover the costs of tuition for ASD’s Canine Enrichment Coordinator, Savannah Cavanaugh, at the Longmont Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program on Aug. 14, 2017.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Your enrichment training helped in offering key strategies to our first-ever full-time Canine Enrichment Coordinator, allowing her to roll out a program incorporating best practices from the onset. Her first day on the job was Aug. 14 at your training. The training helped her identify key programs for implementation at the shelter. This has exponentially increased the number of pets engaging in enrichment opportunities at ASD.

How many pets did this grant help?

700+. The Enrichment Program has reached an average of 70 pets on a weekly basis in the 10 weeks since implementation began.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Rocxie (A1901834) is a 60-lb. tricolored terrier mix who came to ASD via local law enforcement. In her previous life, Rocxie witnessed much trauma to herself and her owner. Extremely fearful, she would hide at the back of her kennel, not coming forward at all. Ms. Cavanaugh immediately began working with her, and within one month could handle her fully, despite Rocxie being fearful around other people. Still making improvements, Rocxie perseveres. She has started seeking the attention of kennel staff and volunteers during playgroups, demonstrating a playful side that is finally, gently, stepping forward. Rocxie is sweet and highly adoptable, and ASD has every confidence that she will find a happy forever home soon.

Ebony is a medium-sized black German shepherd who was quickly identified by veterinary staff as needing enrichment. She entered the shelter with what presented as a neurological deficit, as she tends to walk in circles. She was introduced to daily playgroups so she could play and socialize with other dogs. Given her unknown neurological disorder, participating in the enrichment program gave Ebony a chance for life outside the shelter, and improvements were noted immediately after inclusion in playgroups. She was recently rescued by a Canadian rescue group with a sanctuary and the ability to provide her with greater medical attention.

Parma Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The $1,000 grant was used to pay my tuition for the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship at the Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colo., in August.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This grant enabled me to learn how to conduct successful playgroups and also basic dog-training tips. This has greatly benefited our organization because we are able to have playgroups with the dogs to get them outside and exercised more. It allows us to better assess the dogs’ personalities and how they will behave with other dogs. Also, with the training tips I learned, I can pass those along to other volunteers so the dogs can receive more training reinforcement. The public also enjoys watching the dogs play together. It gives potential adopters a chance to see the dogs in action.

How many pets did this grant help?

This grant will help almost every dog that comes into our shelter, which is about 400 annually. Each dog will benefit from playgroups and learning some basic training.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Many times at our shelter, people will label dogs as “aggressive” with other dogs. They’ll say the dogs do not like other dogs and we should keep them away from each other. By having playgroups, we have been able to quash these untrue labels. Once in the playgroup, dogs come alive and love playing with each other. Volunteers have seen the difference in the dogs and have become more interested in playgroups and how they work. I’ve already conducted one training session with volunteers and we are planning another one. Many dogs have benefited from playgroups. Murphy, the brown-and-black dog in the photos below, has been available for adoption for a while now; he has become my helper dog. He gets along with and tolerates all the other dogs and so he’s been my assistant! Meet Murphy: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39285336

Kentucky Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We are grateful for a $1,000 grant from the Petfinder Foundation that allowed our behavior lead, Lawrence Durgasingh, to attend the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training session at Longmont Humane Society.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Lawrence Durgasingh, behavior lead at Kentucky Humane Society, writes: “On the week of Monday, Aug. 15, 2017, I represented the Kentucky Humane Society as a mentee for the very successful shelter-enrichment program known as Dogs Playing for Life. I went into the mentorship with the objective of finding ways to implement and maintain a successful playgroup program at our main shelter.

During the four days I spent at Longmont Humane Society, I saw many different dogs, all interacting, uninhibited, during playgroups. Of those dogs, I got to observe numerous greetings between them. Being able to see such a wide array of dogs greeting and interacting was very beneficial because it gave me a clear picture of what a successful playgroup should look like. It was also useful to see how dogs are introduced to one another, and how to always do so in a way that maximizes interaction and minimizes human intervention, while still remaining safe. This will be useful for staff at KHS to get a full picture of how a dog will behave when put into a playgroup.

I also learned some useful skills that will go a long way in matching up dogs for more successful playgroups at our shelter. I learned about several different classifications of play styles and which of these play styles do or don’t go well together. This will be crucial to the success of the playgroup program KHS implements because, with our limited yard space and volunteer manpower, playgroups need to have a lot of thought put into them to ensure the dogs get the most out of their time.

Currently, KHS is building a program that uses playgroups as a method of enriching and exercising dogs who are staying at our main shelter. We hope to use the model outlined by DPFL to take data on each dog’s size and play style and use it to create playgroups that help the dogs get the most out of their short amount of time outside of their kennels. We are also looking at using volunteers in a similar way that Longmont Humane does. We are hoping to train new and existing volunteers in running dogs to and from playgroups, and also introducing dogs to one another in order to assess the dog’s suitability for being in playgroups, freeing up staff members to lead those playgroups and to also fulfill cleaning duties.

How many pets did this grant help?

It will impact hundreds of dogs a year.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Tully (first photo) came to the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) through a transfer partnership with Animal Rescue Corps after being found on an abandoned property. He had been abandoned for months without human interaction. He was terrified of people and panicked when presented with a leash. When Tully arrived at KHS, his fear and panic were still evident. The KHS staff created a playgroup for Tully, and Tully was much more relaxed when he was with other dogs. Tully played happily with the other dogs while the staff maintained a comfortable distance. As time progressed, Tully began coming to the staff first for treats, then for attention. The team slowly helped Tully overcome his fear of the leash, and before long, he was enjoying long, relaxing walks around the Pet Retreat property.

Tully has since been adopted by a wonderful couple with a dog who is Tully’s new best friend. They fully understand that a dog with his history will always be a bit cautious in new settings, but recognize him for the sweet, lovable, playful dog who was buried under all the fear.

Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The funds were used to pay the tuition for Amanda Kopec, one of the deputies at CCAS, to go to the DPFL mentorship training session in Longmont, Colorado.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Since starting the Dogs Playing for Life model, we have seen remarkable changes: Our live-release and save rates both increased. Our euthanasia rate went under 10%. We have also seen our return rate go from 8% to 4%, as we are making better adoption matches. Aside from the favorable statistics, something really special happened: Our staff and volunteer engagements started to change dramatically. Our volunteers were invigorated by simply allowing the dogs to be dogs and play. Staff and volunteers are working together in a way that they weren’t able to do before to achieve a common goal: Run daily playgroup. Do it for the dogs: rain, sun, or snow. It is my opinion that when both the people and animals find happiness, only then can greatness be achieved. We are beyond excited to see where this can go for our organization. Thank you for being a part of that process!

How many pets did this grant help?

Each year we bring in approximately 2,100 dogs, and almost every one is given the opportunity to participate in playgroup.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

One great story is the story of Franklin (first photo). Franklin was saved and learned to thrive thanks to the playgroup program at CCAS. When Franklin first arrived at our shelter he came to us with a list of very challenging behaviors: He displayed extreme barrier reactivity towards people and other dogs, was a known leash-biter, displayed leash reactivity, was labeled “dog aggressive,” and he even displayed significant food/resource guarding. The volunteers and staff had a difficult time handling Franklin with his reactivity issues and his very intense behavior, and we were running out of options for this boy.

Franklin had been tried on-muzzle in the play yard with little to no success. One day one of our deputies decided to try Franklin in playgroup with one of our rock-star females. While we did not expect the best outcome, we hoped that this would at least provide an outlet for his energy. The outcome of his first session surprised everyone. Franklin let out a play bow and everything just got better from there. Franklin ended up turning into one of our rock stars in the play yard. We also observed another side effect: When we added playgroup to Franklin’s daily routine, his leash behavior improved, his kennel reactivity vanished and his resource guarding disappeared. Playgroups not only gave Franklin a second chance, but allowed him to thrive, and turn into a dog we never thought he could be.

Franklin finally found his forever home four months after his arrival, and the best news of all was that Franklin went home with a canine sibling (second photo). We get updates on him and they are still doing great to this day.

Teller County Regional Animal Shelter (TCRAS): Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Grant proceeds were used for the tuition cost to send Eric, our animal care-technician/trainer, to the Longmont Humane Society’s Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program on Sept. 18, 2017.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

This training opportunity via the DPFL mentorship program has enabled us to implement additional opportunities for our guests to interact. We typically care for high-energy and bully breeds due to our location, and having the skills to provide additional enrichment to increase their chances of adoption is priceless. Due to our elevation, we have limited volunteers who come to walk our guests during the winter months, and having the skills to run a playgroup to ensure that our dogs have the opportunity for enrichment and exercise will be beneficial.

How many pets did this grant help?

Eight so far!

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

Jade (first photo) is a 2-year-old female pit bull terrier who loves people and male dogs. She is not a fan of cats or female dogs. Playgroup has allowed her to interact with male dogs, and she will be progressing to introduction to females in a controlled setting. Jade is still available. Meet her: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39267649

Cheddar (second photo) is a 10-year-old male shepherd mix who was seized by Animal Control due to his owner’s failure to provide a safe and healthy living environment. The owner was offered humane-education opportunities and declined. Due to his past living environment, Cheddar needs additional socialization and proper interaction skills with other dogs. He still has a lot of energy for his age, and playgroup has been a positive step in increasing his adoption potential. Cheddar is still available. Meet him: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/39550270

Gavin (third photo) is a 2-year-old male shepherd mix who has a lot of energy and separation-anxiety issues. Playgroup offers him the physical and mental enrichment that allows him to relax in his kennel for the night. He has been adopted.

Bubba (fourth photo) is a 1-year-old boxer/retriever mix who came to us via a rescue in Alabama. This organization rescues dogs who are left at abandoned textile mills. Because he came from a feral environment with more than 216 dogs, we knew that Bubba would need additional socialization. He becomes immediately attached to whomever he perceives as his person and feels he needs to protect them. Eric (the animal care technician who attended the mentorship program) is introducing him to playgroup to allow him the opportunity to learn from others that leaving your person to play is okay and safe. We will continue to work with his attachment and protective tendencies and hope to find him a loving home. He is currently in active heartworm treatment, so his playgroup activity is brief.

Chopper (fifth photo) is a 3-year-old male soft-coat wheaten terrier mix who arrived at TCRAS as a transfer and was immediately adopted. His was relinquished back to us several months later as the family did not have the time to devote to his enrichment. Playgroup was a little intimidating for him at first and we introduced him to only one other dog, Jade, to begin and he has really enjoyed the enrichment.