Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant

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.

Dog Town Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship 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 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 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.

Iroquois County Animal Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

It was used for my five-day mentorship program in Austin, Texas, at Austin Pets Alive!

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

It helped me to gain confidence in running dog playgroups. I was able to take that knowledge back to my shelter and teach the program to several of our volunteers so that we could implement additional playgroups.

How many pets did this grant help?

On average, 100-120 dogs per year.

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

Buddy, an American pit bull terrier, was adopted after spending over a year in our shelter awaiting adoption. Through his participation in playgroups, we learned that he was great with other dogs. He now lives with another dog in his adoptive home.

Rebel Rescue, Inc.: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Part of the grant money paid my tuition to attend a Dog’s Playing for Life Mentorship Program. The money also paid for supplies so that we could build a few agility-type play items for the yard.

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

Having play yard equipment is keeping the rescue dogs more engaged and curious. We see this bring out more happiness and have seen dogs who had been timid come out of their shells to play more. This has made them calmer and more interested in play.

How many pets did this grant help?

We have 52 dogs right now and the play items help them all.

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

Pepper (first photo) has been passed over for adoption because of his super-charged energy and his tendency to play in a dominant way. Now that he is using toys and obstacles, he is being challenged more and appears to be having a MUCH better time! He is now playing in groups and not making the other dogs mad. Meet Pepper here.

In the second photo you will see Cowboy and Jude. These two love digging in rocks and burying each other. It is hilarious! Both are dogs who didn’t like other dogs and were getting passed over for adoption. With structured introductions and play, they built confidence and eventually became friends and loved to play with the others.

If you look in the background of the third photo, you can see the A-frame and the hoop jump we built. In the fourth photo, you can see the catwalk in the background.

Today, Jude and Cowboy are adopted. Pepper is still waiting for his family to find him. He is still full of energy, so we have to wait for a family that plays together. We tell him the right family will come for him one day.

Animal Rescue Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship 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 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 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).