Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only)

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

What was the money or product used for?

For a staff member to travel to Colorado to learn about Dogs Playing for Life.

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

This enabled the staff member who learned about Dogs Playing for Life to educate the other staff on what she had learned and implement more enrichment and playgroups for the dogs in our care.

How many pets did this grant help?

Hundreds and still counting

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

Mocha and Blue were scared when they came into our center. We were concerned with Blue because she was growling and lunging when she first came in. Our seasoned staff had a difficult time examining her for her intake exam. Mocha was shy, but was not as vocal about being scared as Blue was. They were able to play together and be with other dogs and were both recently adopted. They made such wonderful progress and we thank programs like the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship and the Petfinder Foundation for helping us make it possible for these wonderful dogs to find happiness.

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

What was the money or product used for?

Grant funding awarded to the Humane Society of Summit County from the Petfinder Foundation supported a Dogs Playing for Life mentorship session for a member of our staff.

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

Grant support was instrumental in helping HSSC rejuvenate and further develop its canine playgroup program. Since completing the mentorship program, our participating staff member has relayed her new knowledge gained from the session to other Animal Care Associates, helping them to feel more confident and comfortable during playgroups. Since the beginning of February, playgroups at HSSC are now held every day, weather permitting, allowing many more of our rescued dogs to experience this highly effective enrichment and peer-to-peer socialization.

How many pets did this grant help?

100 dogs

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

Ceres, a pit bull terrier mix, was rescued as a victim of animal cruelty by HSSC Humane Officers at the end of 2018. Although she recovered from her ordeal rather quickly, Ceres struggled with the common stressors within our shelter environment. New dogs, constant visitors, and a variety of unfamiliar smells and noises can be overwhelming and stressful for some rescued dogs.

Ceres’s behavior reflected her stress and anxiety. During her first few weeks in our care, she would shred, chew, and tear any blankets, beds, or toys given to her in her kennel, and, on a few occasions, she swallowed the pieces. Fortunately, she experienced no serious health complications, but all of these items were then prohibited from her enclosure for her safety.

In order to alleviate her stress, HSSC’s behavioral team began to include her in playgroup sessions. Each day, Ceres enjoys an intense play session with a few of HSSC’s other rescued dogs with compatible play style. Playgroup participation had a wonderful effect on Ceres. She is calmer in her kennel, and with a bit of time, blankets, beds, and toys have been reintroduced to her kennel. Luckily, Ceres no longer destroys them! Her stress-induced behaviors have been eliminated by her playgroup participation.

Today, Ceres is a star in playgroup! She plays well with most of the other dogs, and it’s wonderful to witness how the program has benefited her overall well-being.

Ceres is currently available for adoption at HSSC. Learn more about her on Petfinder here.

Kind Keeper Animal Rescue: 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 tuition for volunteer Betsy Shortle to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship in Austin, TX. Betsy attended the training in November 2018.

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

Kind Keeper has play yards, but has always kept the animals in separate play areas. We are now allowing several dogs to play together in a single play area. This has helped not only with exercise but socialization of the dogs so that they are able to get along with other dogs and therefore be more adoptable.

How many pets did this grant help?

The number continues to grow as time goes on. Initially, the grant helped six dogs. However, with dogs being adopted, we can confidently say that this grant will help at least 100 dogs per year based on our turnover.

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

Angel is a pit bull who came to us with her seven puppies in August. By November, most of her puppies had been adopted and we were working to socialize and train Angel so that she would be more attractive to potential adopters. Angel benefited from playing with a couple other dogs in our fenced play yard, which also reassured, not only shelter staff, but also visitors when they came to see Angel. Angel was taken for a temporary foster visit with a family with other dogs. Angel made herself right at home within hours and played with their other dogs. Angel was adopted from the foster situation before Christmas and continues in that successful placement.

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

What was the money or product used for?

A Dogs Playing for Life mentorship.

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

Due to turnover in our organization, many of our staff did not have the confidence to run playgroups without a trainer being present. The program provided that confidence to another staff member, who is now able to run the groups and educate other staffers and volunteers how to successfully run playgroups.

How many pets did this grant help?

40-50

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

Bishop (first photo) is one of our oldest and longest-term residents at the shelter. Living in a shelter has been particularly stressful for this poor dog. However, since we’ve been able to implement more playgroups, Bishop is now much less stressed and has become one of our playgroup rock stars! He’s paying it forward by teaching many of the younger pups appropriate play behavior.

Grand County Animal Shelter: 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?

This grant helped teach me how to properly run playgroups at our shelter. I had never done playgroups, so this was a unique experience and a lot of information to process. I work at a small shelter and have limited staff, and volunteers are very random and not an everyday occurrence. I am hoping I can get some consistent volunteers so we can use what I have learned to enhance our shelter dogs’ lives until they are adopted. It is hard, though, because when I am working, if I get a call (since I am an ACO), I have to leave. I do plan to implement it as much as possible when I do have the volunteers and more than one dog. This mentorship also helped me work and handle dogs that come through the shelter, as I learned about eye contact, walking, door routine, etc.

How many pets did this grant help?

Hopefully all those who come in to the shelter

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

As of now, we have had only one dog here and there. We are a small shelter and luckily we have had dogs who have been adopted quickly. All the others have been strays/owner pick-ups. The dogs we have had in our play area do like the open space and like being in the front as opposed to the back kennels. I have been able to observe whether the dogs that we’ve had in the area like to charge when you open the gate, look for escape routes, bark at cars or dogs walking by, etc. It’s been very helpful, because we can tell the new adopter this information. However, we have really had no playgroups because of only having one dog at a time. The pictures I am showing are of the one dog (Ocean) we have and our play yard. We make sure it is always snow-blown so that we will be able to do playgroups when we have more than one dog.

The Haven Animal Care Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

DPFL mentorship

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

We received training for playgroups and for fancy footwork. It will help us to engage our dogs and help get them exercise outside of their pens.

How many pets did this grant help?

70

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

None specifically yet, but I will be conducting a fancy-footwork workshop next month and will complete an application for a play yard renovation soon, too, so we can start playgroups. Sadly, our lead dog walker passed away, so we have no one to help transport dogs.

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

What was the money or product used for?

Dog Playing For Life training

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

The training I received, I then brought home and trained the rest of the staff here at Stray Hearts. We have been putting on a playgroup every Friday from 9-12. The only animals that do not participate are the small-breed dogs. This is because we have quite a few large dogs who love to rile up the pack and we are nervous that the smaller dogs will be injured if we add them in. There have been quite a few dogs who have been completely shy/feral when they’ve come to us, but once they’re in playgroups, they are approaching people, and even going up to the fence to say hi to the public. We have had many dogs adopted once members of the public come out to watch the playgroups and fall in love with the personality of one of our dogs.

How many pets did this grant help?

Approximately 180 animals from October to present date.

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

We have had a few who came into our shelter very shy, or feral, whom we could hardly interact with for safety reasons. One in particular was a 2-year-old heeler mix named Tamira (first photo). She came in as a puppy, was adopted out, and brought back to us by the adopter. She was very antisocial at the time she was brought back to us, and we put her in with some other nervous dogs. This was a bad idea, as she then progressed toward being feral rather than being more social. We would free-run her out to an outdoor kennel and then back in for potty times. She was VERY resistant to people being in her space, but never made any indication that she would bite other than barking. She simply got up and moved anywhere but where we were.

Eventually she allowed us to start touching her while feeding her treats, and from there we put a collar on her. After about a week and a half, we decided to take her out of her kennel on a double lead (slip lead and a leash attached to her collar). She was very interested in figuring out where she was going, and the following Friday she was brought out to playgroup. She immediately started acting like she was terrified, so we simply introduced her through the fencing, and then took her back to her kennel.

The following Friday we brought her out again; however, this time we hung out with her outside the yard for some time, and then put her in the playgroup with about 20 minutes before it ended and we took everyone back inside. She loved being around the other dogs, but still was very hesitant to come up to the handlers.

After about six playgroups, Tamira was coming up to the handlers and sniffing around their legs, but was still unsure if they reached for the leash. After being at Stray Hearts for over a year, with our staff and volunteers spending many hours working with her to build her confidence, she was adopted two weeks ago (second photo). After seeing her on Facebook, her new family drove out from Virginia to pick her up and give her a new home as a ranch dog. Tamira has settled into her new life quite nicely. She is walking on a leash with no trouble and letting complete strangers come up and pet her. Her adopters send us updated photos every so often.

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

What was the money or product used for?

Tuition to attend the Dogs Playing For Life Mentorship Program

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

Allowing more confidence in running our playgroups, and relaying the valuable information I learned to some of our volunteers, allowing the dogs to have a better experience.

How many pets did this grant help?

Any dogs coming into our care (roughly 350/year)

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

We run playgroups daily, so it’s hard to pinpoint one dog specifically. We did have one named Donkey who I think we allowed more freedom to communicate as a dog in playgroups, and it helped him blossom and become more social in general. He was adopted.

Wimberley Adoption Group and Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

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

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

I have been able to teach the other volunteers about grouping dog play styles, using tools for safety and molding behavior and the value of letting dogs interact with each other on a regular basis. We have seen dogs who were scared and reactive become well-balanced and happy, anxious each day to get in with others and play. Our larger-dog adoptions have increased and returns have diminished.

How many pets did this grant help?

So far…. 15-20

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

One of the biggest successes so far was a dog named Blue Boy. He came in resource-guarding and somewhat fear-aggressive towards other dogs. Over time, with one-to-one contact with proper types of dogs and eventually large playgroups, he gained confidence with dogs and people. Blue Boy is now securely in a new forever home!

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

What was the money or product used for?

It was used to have contract playgroup trainer Jessi Henry attend the mentorship in Austin, Texas. She has attended three seminars with Aimee Sadler at Dogs Playing for Life, starting when Aimee came to WHS for the first time in 2008. Jessi has been doing playgroups ever since. She was an employee for over 10 years and now she is a contract trainer and only does playgroups for the shelter and the public. She is also a Pro Responder for the ASPCA’s anti-cruelty behavior team and a task that is included in that is helping with playgroups with those populations of dogs as well.

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

Jessi says: I have been to three seminars from Aimee and DPFL and have been running playgroups since she came the first time in 2008. Attending this mentorship not only taught me some things I did not know, it also gave me more confidence in the way I was running playgroups and knowing that I am actually running them very close to the way DPFL and Austin Pets Alive! run them. The seminars taught me a lot throughout the years, but actually having someone watch and give me feedback for four days was extremely helpful to me.

How many pets did this grant help?

It has helped hundreds so far and will continue to help hundreds.

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

Hoagie (pictured with some of his playgroup friends) has been a long-term resident. He came to playgroups in the beginning but then started to decline and seemed to not enjoy them anymore. He also seemed to be getting kennel stressed (common in long-term shelter residents). He has been being worked with through our Behavior and Training Team on basic skills and impulse control.

When I got back from the mentorship, I thought about Hoagie a lot and everything I’d learned. They had similar dogs in their shelter and playgroups were helping those dogs in a significant way. I gave it another shot and set up a yard for Hoagie to ease back into playgroups.

We did start out using precautions such as a muzzle and drag lines. This lasted for a very short time and then I was able to remove this equipment. While Hoagie’s “friend” pool is smaller, he has been able to get out multiple times a week and work off some of his energy. He has even lost some of his extra weight and is looking great, mentally and physically.

Hoagie is still currently up for adoption and waiting for his perfect forever home, but in the meantime he has been having a great time with his pals, both two-legged and four). I am so glad that I had the extra confidence from going to the DPFL mentorship to give it another go with Hoagie. It warms my heart to see him acting like a dog! Meet Hoagie here.