Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant

Kind Keeper, Inc.: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Paid tuition for volunteer to attend Dogs Playing for Life mentorship in November 2018.

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

This grant helped our volunteers learn how to safely manage playgroups with the shelter dogs. Additionally, they learned safe techniques for getting animals into and out of kennels, walking dogs safely, and general canine-behavior observation skills.

How many pets did this grant help?

30

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

We have several dogs who have been in the shelter for more than a year. Cognac is a bully mix who gets along well with people and children and, thanks to learning more about playgroups and canine-behavior observation, we now know that she does get along with other dogs. Although she may be selective, we can tell quickly if it is a good match. Cognac has not been adopted yet and we really don’t understand why, other than the fact that she has an imposing appearance. We continue to take her to events and introduce her to potential adopters. We know that one day the right people will come along and find her! Meet Cognac here.

Angel City Pit Bulls: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We used the grant to cover the tuition for one of our volunteers to attend the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship 1 at Austin Pets Alive!

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

This grant helped us gain more knowledge and hands-on experience to continue and expand our playgroup program at our organization. The volunteer we sent walked away with more confidence in how to assess and build a yard of dogs, so that more dogs have more chances to play, and dogs in need of building more social skills can be supported through that process. We also learned new training techniques for the kennel environment that will help our volunteers work with our dogs in a more consistent manner. We hope that the combined effect will be happier dogs who know what’s expected of them, resulting in quicker adoptions!

How many pets did this grant help?

Our projected intake is about 200+ pit bull-type dogs for this year; most, if not all, of those dogs will be in playgroups at some point.

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

Carter (first and second photos) is one of our current foster dogs who is reactive on leash. While we knew this wasn’t a good indication of his sociability, before having playgroups, we struggled to find a way to introduce him to other dogs (and counsel possible foster or adoptive homes on what could be a good match for him). Using Dogs Playing for Life playgroups, we were able to get Carter in the yard with other dogs and found out that, not only does he love other dogs, but he has some of the best off-leash social skills of our foster dogs! Carter has not been adopted yet, but is currently in a foster home with another dog and loving it! He frequently comes by our facility to “help out” with playgroups. Meet Carter here.

Danbury Animal Welfare Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant funds were used to cover tuition costs to send Gina Riccio for training at the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship in Austin, Texas.

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

The program helped teach DAWS staff and volunteers better and quicker ways of getting dogs adopted and in turn enabled the shelter to rescue more dogs and save more lives.

How many pets did this grant help?

Approximately 150 dogs

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

We took in an owner-surrender in October. His name is Onyx and he is a 60-lb., 7-year-old male pit bull. He was traumatized after living in a home for his entire seven years of life and was now put in a shelter environment. He was extremely depressed and upset and it took him some time to come around to new people. I slowly introduced him to other dogs and people. He loved playing in a yard with them and enjoying walks, etc. Sometimes I even felt bad for him, because he played so nicely with any dog of any size that it appeared that they were almost beating up him. He thrived after these play dates and took so well to the loose-leash walking, it was amazing. Initially when he came in, it was very hard to hold him on a leash, but with a few sessions of loose-leash training, he did wonderfully and became a pleasure to walk. Shortly thereafter, I was able to take him to any adoption event. Since then, he has gone foster-to-adopt with a lovely couple and been introduced to his doggie in-laws and has been absolutely perfect! I will be finalizing his adoption this week!

Lynchburg Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.