Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only)

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.

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