Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant

Paws for Life Utah: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The $1,000 granted by the Petfinder Foundation was used to pay the tuition for our Operations Director, Nancy O’Connor, to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship training session at Longmont Humane Society from May 20-23, 2019.

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

This grant enabled us to send our Operations Director to learn best practices from a training and management perspective. Through daily participation in the training sessions, she learned many lessons on which practices are most beneficial to dogs in playgroups and why.

Some examples of things she learned and incorporated into our playgroups are as follows:

1. Tools to use during playgroup or any time you need to distract a dog to prevent fighting or any bad behavior.
2. Teaching dogs a door routine, which we now use consistently and also have trained our fosters and volunteers in. We use this standard process and train all handlers so that our dogs do not try to, or are not able to, run out the door when it opens.
3. We incorporated several new games learned at DPFL that really are helpful and productive in creating safe and beneficial playgroups with dogs. We have used them to show fosters how to keep dogs from going for things dropped on the floor that could potentially be dangerous to them.
4. Letting dogs play, letting them correct each other and only intervening when there is potential danger.
5. Using new tools to keep the handler and the dogs safe.

In addition to using these lessons for our own play yard, our executive director worked with the Heber City Engineering Department, Parks Department and Animal Control on a committee to renovate our new “Boneyard” dog park. Much of the design of the park (entry and exit gates, footing, stations, etc.) incorporated lessons learned at the mentorship. At the grand opening of the Boneyard dog park, where our executive director, mayor and city council members held a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a fun dog park event and, later, an adoption event, we held training sessions with the public to educate them on dog-park safety. The event was attended by more than 100 people and was a huge success!

How many pets did this grant help?

This will help all the dogs in our care every year, which is approximately 900 dogs per year.

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

We rescued a very sweet and scared border-collie mix named Zeg from [an open-admission] shelter in Vernal, Utah. He was terrified, and we were told that he was afraid of other dogs and would just cower in his kennel. With the lessons learned from the DPFL mentorship program sponsored by the Petfinder Foundation, we worked with Zeg, first at our boarding facility in turnout groups with dogs who helped socialize him. Zeg responded initially better to those confident, playful dogs who were not a threat to him. Soon he began responding better to our handlers and prospective adopters.

When we brought him to the grand opening of our new community dog park, Zeg was a hit! He did wonderfully in large turnouts with new dogs, and played with everyone. He was befriended by a young boy at the event (first photo) and got the attention of a prospective adopter, who needed a kind, gentle and large dog who was social and could to assist her with her disability. She fell in love and adopted Zeg, and he is currently in training to become a service dog. We are so grateful to the Petfinder Foundation, which enabled us to learn these best practices and apply them to pets in our program. This type of program and educational experience is the gift that keeps on giving!

Rosenberg Animal Control & Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used exclusively for tuition for the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship opportunity.

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

I was the individual who went through the mentorship, and I learned a great deal about canine behavior and playgroup theory. Play styles, proper introductions, and modification techniques are among the skills I took from the experience.

How many pets did this grant help?

100+ so far!

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

Wanda was a fawn-colored bully mix and long-term resident at our facility who had been passed over so many times by visitors that she had become depressed. Staff loved her, but she was reportedly “dog-aggressive,” so her outing options were limited. After the mentorship, I decided to “test” her in a small playgroup and exercise the skills I learned. I was VERY surprised to see that not only was Wanda tolerant, but she was highly social in that setting after proper introductions. She played with other dogs for hours and came to be known as a playgroup star. She was adopted this past weekend!

Hope2K9 Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant was used to expand our trainer’s knowledge of dog behavior, appropriate play styles and body language.

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

After completing the mentorship program, we offered dog social events to our community as a healthy and safe alternative to dog parks. At the events, we share our knowledge of appropriate play and dog body language. Several of our community members own dogs or have newly adopted dogs who are reactive or have behavioral issues; they do not have access to venues in which to properly socialize their dogs, and thus feel the need to surrender them to a shelter. Hope2K9’s mission is to keep dogs in their homes with FREE support.

How many pets did this grant help?

This grant has helped at least 15 dogs so far.

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

Cypress, a 6-year-old pittie who has been in our rescue for a little over 400 days, truly benefited from our expanded knowledge of dog social behavior and, slowly but surely, learned how to relax and socialize. We are happy to report that she is now adopted, to a family with another dog. We once thought she would need to be in an only-dog home. She is now happily playing with her new brother and living the dream (first photo).

A dog named McKinley was recently rescued. She developed leash reactivity and got herself into many scuffles at dog parks. Her owner quickly took advantage of our pack social events to help McKinley learn how to be around dogs. With the knowledge gained during DPFL, we were able to share some insight into McKinley’s behavior and educate the owner on what was appropriate play and how to advocate for her dog. McKinley was able to let her guard down and enjoy her time with all the other dogs, as well.

Thank you!

The Haley Graves Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program

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

James has successfully worked with four dogs so far. This has resulted in a positive placement of these pups.

How many pets did this grant help?

Four so far

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

Luke was the last dog of his litter and lived with his foster for seven months. When adopted, he showed some fear aggression and leash aggression. James successfully worked with the adopters to overcome these obstacles and helped him remain in his forever home.

Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used entirely for the cost of the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive!

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

This grant has helped us get more dogs out to play together, which has been amazing for potential adopters to see. We live in a very dog-friendly community, where a lot of dogs are off-leash, so knowing how a dog does in a playgroup is pretty crucial for adopters.

How many pets did this grant help?

At the very least, 100 dogs. Any dog who has gotten to attend playgroup has benefited from this grant!

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

We had a dog named Raymond who seemed to be dog-aggressive. When we did the on-leash introduction, he was lunging and acting threatening. He would fence-fight with the dogs next to him and even try and go after his own reflection, which resulted in a redirection bite on his handler. After going through the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship, we thought we should try Raymond with a muzzle in a small playgroup. At first he was uncomfortable, but with everything I had learned, we continued this until Raymond was comfortable and eventually started to play! He was adopted into a home shortly thereafter that has another dog and they are living happily ever after. Without the confidence and the skills we learned from Dogs Playing for Life, Raymond could still be sitting in a shelter.

Kokomo Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

To attend a Dogs Playing for Life mentorship

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

This grant helped us get a larger portion of our dog population out to playgroup or a social session at least every other day. This allows us to place dogs in homes that are more compatible with them, leading to fewer returned pets.

How many pets did this grant help?

50-75

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

The first dog this grant helped is Gator. Gator is a 3-year-old Cane Corso Mastiff mix. He was a returned adoption who was said to have attacked another dog while trying to attack a construction worker through a fence. We worked with Gator extensively on his barrier reactivity, did social sessions with him and a small female dog, and socialized him with as many human males as possible. Gator was eventually adopted out to a military man who had owned several extra-large dogs before. Gator had worked through his barrier reactivity to humans and dogs and loves his little 40-lb. friend, even though she is about 100 lbs. lighter than him!

The next dog is Moonie, a 2-year-old Coonhound mix. Moonie originally came to us as a stray and then was returned to us due to his ability to escape from anything. He started off wearing a muzzle in playgroups because he seemed to love playing with dogs, but also loved biting them. Moonie would easily tip over and try to fight the other dogs. He wore the muzzle to group and worked through this with many corrections from us humans and the dogs. After he’d been with us for around three months, we took off the muzzle and he did fabulous! He was even considered for an assessor dog a couple times. Moonie was adopted out about two weeks after we took the muzzle off and went to a home with a small dog!

Dexter is the third dog this grant has helped. Dexter was adopted out as a puppy and then eight months later was found as a stray a couple of counties over from where he was adopted to. He was extremely scared of people and would snarl and growl any time someone got near him. He went to playgroup through the dedication and determination of our runners and we gained his trust. He was mostly handled by our playgroup staff and volunteers and was used as an assessor dog for several months. Now Dexter is adopted and lives with me, Marissa, the head of behavior and medical. We are working through his fear of strangers, as he will lunge at people if they approach unexpectedly. This grant allowed me to gain knowledge and resources to get him through his issues and on to becoming a well-rounded dog. Since he was adopted, we go to dog parks to help associate strangers with dogs, which he loves very much.

The Haley Graves Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship program tuition

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

We have successfully been able to help our dogs (some of them with behavioral issues) move on to successful adoptive homes.

How many pets did this grant help?

6

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

Hali is a Lab/pit bull mix who was overly interested in small animals. Playing too rough, she accidentally killed a cat. Hali has been rehabilitated and successfully adopted into a home with cats.

Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used for a staff member to attend the Dogs Playing for Life seminar at Austin Pets Alive.

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

The experience at DPFL provided the motivation and education to standardize and grow our playgroup operations and make playgroups more frequent. Playgroups are also giving us significantly more information about the dogs in our care and how they may get along with others.

How many pets did this grant help?

We currently have 61 dogs who are currently in our playgroup program in one form or another, and an additional 59 dogs have “graduated” from our playgroup program through adoption, foster, or transport.

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

Jasper (first photo) came to the shelter suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He would not let anyone touch him. Slowly we got him to eat and hid pain medications in his food. Then he began to feel better and trust us. We were able to perform surgery to remove the bullets and clean the wounds. Through all this, he still did not trust us. However, we found that playgroups helped ease his feelings of “stranger danger.” In the large yard with other dogs, he didn’t have to worry about the humans — none of the other dogs did. He learned to coexist with us. Jarvis is still at the shelter looking for the right home. (Jasper’s Petfinder profile has not been posted yet.)

Humane Educational Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant money was used to sponsor tuition for a Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Level II.

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

The grant helped our organization by allowing a staff member to attend the DPFL Mentorship Level II. With the information and training techniques learned there, we have been able to increase the number of dogs who attend playgroups each day. We have also started some basic command training and are laying the foundation to develop a formal Behavior Department and training program. We plan to do some behavior-modification training with certain dogs who are not showing well at the shelter, which will allow them to be adoptable.

How many pets did this grant help?

1,000 per year

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

Quinn is a 7-month-old pup who came to the shelter about a month ago. She was terrified in her kennel, but she showed her fear by growling, snapping, lunging, and biting in the kennel. We were finally able to get her out and on a leash using some of the techniques learned at the DPFL Mentorship Level II. Once she got out to the play yard, her demeanor changed from fear-aggressive dog to playful puppy. We began taking her out to playgroups, and now she is a Playgroup Rock Star! We also started walking her on-leash and saw how quickly she learned commands. She was always intent on what the trainer was doing and so eager to please. She quickly learned sit, down, and place. She has also started to master duration in all of these things. Even though Quinn still needs some work to get her ready for adoption, we now have the tools, training, and confidence to work with her and find her a forever home!

Ventura County Animal Services: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The funding allowed me to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship II.

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

At the mentorship, I learned new techniques that are helping our shelter dogs. I learned kennel routine and fancy footwork, which have been implemented. Our dogs are learning to not bolt through open doors and how to walk well on-leash. I also learned new techniques and gained more knowledge on running playgroups. I have attended both DPFL mentorships and have learned so much from both. DPFL is a great organization; thank you for the opportunity to learn from them again!

How many pets did this grant help?

Thousands, the kennel routine and fancy footwork are now integrated into our training for staff and volunteers.

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

Chachia (first photo) was relinquished to the shelter as an owner-surrender. Chachia did not have any leash manners; she would come running out of the kennel and not many volunteers were able to walk her. She was enrolled in Mutt Manners, which is a volunteer group that works with dogs in pack walks. Chachia was pulling very hard on leash at the start of the pack walk, but after using fancy footwork, she started to learn that it is easier to look at the handler, not pull on-leash, and enjoy the walk. Chachia is still at the shelter and still participates in pack walks. She still needs work, but without fancy footwork, she would be limited in who could walk her and we would have been challenged to find a way to train her. Meet Chachia here.