Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only)

Front Street Animal Shelter - City of Sacramento: 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?

We sent two employees to Longmont, Colorado, to spend four days actively learning about and practicing dog playgroups. As a result, we have been doing dog playgroups in our shelter since their return. We have established protocols and procedures which both staff and volunteers adhere to.

How many pets did this grant help?

From Oct. 18-Nov. 29, 101 dogs were helped by playgroups. Most of these dogs are single-kenneled in our back kennels, primarily due to our being able to pair them up successfully in our multi-dog kennels. We have experienced a quantifiable increase in dog save rates in a very short period of time. In October and November 2016, our dog save rate was 83 and 82% respectively. In October and November 2017, the save rate for dogs was 87% and 86% respectively.

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

We recently partnered with a local pet-friendly technology company (RedTail) that allows its employees to foster shelter dogs and bring them to work. Jack had recently been introduced to playgroups. He had been kenneled in the back of our shelter and would most certainly not have been identified as the first dog to go to RedTail had we not been doing playgroups. Jack is a typical black-and-white pit-type dog, of which we have many. Playgroups allowed us to see his true personality. As it turns out, Jack was completely trained, and social with people and other dogs (of all sizes). Jack was our first RedTail success and really a light-bulb moment for our staff. He has been adopted by an employee of RedTail, goes to work every day and is a shining example of what can happen when dogs participate in playgroups!

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

What was the money or product used for?

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

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

As the kennel manager, I socialize our adoptable dogs. I lacked the skills and confidence to do this properly. I’m now able to successfully conduct playgroups on a daily basis. This reduces the anxiety and stress of our dogs. They are able to play and socialize while I learn more about their personalities. This gives me the knowledge to properly place them in forever homes and save more dogs from our city shelters.

How many pets did this grant help?

Dozens, and counting

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

LuLu is a black, adult pit bull who had a slim chance of making it out of the shelter. We rescued her and brought her to our kennel. I had a hard time reading her body language and was nervous about placing her in playgroups. Once I was able to learn from Dogs Playing for Life, I had the confidence and skills to get her socializing. LuLu is a wonderful dog and is now playing with dogs and less stressed in her kennel. I’m able to observe her interacting with different dogs, so I’ll be able to successfully adopt her out to the right home. She is still up for adoption; here is her link: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40034936

Second Chance For Homeless Pets: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used to send me, Jessica Walker, to the Dog’s Playing for Life mentorship program at the Longmont Humane Society in Colorado.

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

Through this grant I was able to attend the Dogs Playing for Life program, which we would not have been able to go to without it. What I learned I was able to share with our volunteers and employees, which has helped the dogs in our care. We have been able to put many more dogs in playgroups and more accurately understand dogs, which also helps us in finding them the perfect forever homes. The dogs have loved the implementation of the playgroups and we’ve seen many of our dogs blossom and shy dogs gain confidence. It’s wonderful to see how big a difference it has made for our dogs.

How many pets did this grant help?

20+ dogs and counting

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

Calypso is one of our dogs who greatly benefited from implementing the skills and methods I learned from the Dogs Playing for Life program. She first came to us with a litter of puppies and was placed into a foster home. Her puppies all soon found forever homes. Calypso, however, was extremely shy and distrusting. She didn’t like to be touched or handled and was shut down, not even wanting to take a tasty treat from anyone. She would flee to a corner or somewhere far away from people. We worked with her for over a month and eventually she would timidly take a treat, but we didn’t make a lot of progress. She still ran away from us out in our play yards, so we had to keep a long leash on her just to catch her.

After the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship, we started implementing playgroups, something we hadn’t done much of before. As we started bringing dogs out to play, we decided to see how Calypso would do with other dogs. Much to our surprise and delight, Calypso blossomed! She adored the other dogs and loved to play! She went from shy and timid to happy and playful almost instantly. It only took a couple of playgroup sessions before we started to notice a huge change in her. She quickly grew a lot more confident around people she was familiar with. She started letting us handle her and pet her without fleeing to a corner, and happily taking treats or food from us. While she is still a bit timid at times, she has come a very long way in a short time. When we are getting ready to let dogs out for a playgroup session, she excitedly waits her turn, and she has a sweet doggy smile as she bounds after the other dogs. The other dogs were able to help her relax and gain some confidence. She’s a very sweet dog and we hope she will find her forever home soon!

Calypso has not yet found her forever home and is still available for adoption: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40084375

Animal Rescue Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training at Austin Pets Alive! Our executive director, Trevor Denham, was able to attend with the grant issued.

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

This grant gave our executive director better insight into playgroups and how to help increase the enrichment and socialization activities for our dogs at the shelter. The goal is to help increase their adoptability, and we feel the training he received was exceptional and will do just that.

How many pets did this grant help?

All of our dogs at the shelter will reap the benefits, so I’d say countless. We now have a set of skills that we can use as more dogs come in. It really is invaluable.

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

We have a dog, Will, who was very anxious being in the shelter. He had lived outside all his life and wasn’t accustomed to being there. Because he was so rambunctious, we were reluctant to group him with other dogs. Our executive director took the skills he learned and was able to successfully let Will socialize with other dogs. As a result, Will now has a roommate at ARF and they get to play together during our shifts. It has helped Will tremendously.

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

What was the money or product used for?

Scholarship for the Dogs Playing For Life mentorship program at Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, TX.

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

This program allows dogs to act like dogs should. They get the social interaction and enrichment they need but normally wouldn’t get in a shelter environment. We also learned quite a lot about dog behavior that will allow us to work with dogs who previously would not have been adoptable. The staff also loves either leading or just watching playgroups, so I think this program even helps with the morale of the shelter.

How many pets did this grant help?

I would say 20-25 since returning from Austin, with more being added every day.

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

Liberty (the white dog in the photo) was found as a stray wandering out in the county. When she first came to us, she was terrified and spent her first few days here hiding in her kennel. We introduced her to the playgroups when she became available for adoption. She was apprehensive at first, but as she watched the other dogs running and having fun, she began to come out of her shell. It was wonderful to watch her go from hiding behind our legs to running up to other dogs to get them to play with her. Meet her: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/40050711

Animal Ark Rescue: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The money was used to attend a Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship at Austin Pets Alive!

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

Our dogs are happier, less stressed, more social, and more adoptable because of playgroup.

How many pets did this grant help?

167 dogs at this time

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

Jess is a playgroup ROCK STAR! Jess was able to be moved from the shelter into a foster home quickly because she was very social with other dogs. She was adopted within a few short weeks of being placed into foster. Unfortunately, Jess wasn’t a good fit for her new adopters. She found her way back to Animal Ark Rescue, where she helped to introduce countless dogs to the joys of playgroup. (That includes dogs like Chess, the black Lab mix pictured with Jess in the photo. Chess is a very shy boy when it comes to humans, but he loves playgroup.) Jess was adopted last weekend during our Black Friday adoption special. She was adopted quickly because she was very social and playful. Playgroup rock stars like Jess tend to be adopted very quickly and have a decreased length of stay at the shelter.

Ark-Valley Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

This grant was used to pay for my tuition fee to attend the Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship hosted at Longmont Humane Society in Longmont, Colorado, from September 18-21.

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

The Dogs Playing for Life grant greatly impacted how we conduct playgroups and dog-to-dog introductions at my shelter, Ark-Valley Humane Society. My shelter had already been doing playgroups loosely based on the DPFL program prior to the mentorship. Some protocols that were already in place stayed the same, while others got fine-tuned. A priceless amount of knowledge regarding canine-to-canine language, proper human intervention for tense situations, and safety tools and their use was brought back to my shelter. The dogs in our care are now able to more freely express themselves and play with other dogs in a much safer and professionally conducted environment.

How many pets did this grant help?

Countless

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

This grant was able to really help a 4-year-old female pit bull mix named Ginger who had been at Ark-Valley Humane Society for almost a whole year. Ginger underwent some treatment when she was first admitted to the shelter that required her to be on kennel rest for a good chunk of time. When she was done with treatment, Ginger was tested in “playgroups” that she ended up doing very poorly in, but that we later realized were misconducted on our behalf. These interactions made us believe Ginger would not successfully be able to go into a home with other dogs. Some time passed where multiple staff members observed Ginger showing very playful behavior towards other dogs through multiple chain-link fence barriers. We really wanted to test Ginger again with other dogs, but were unsure how to proceed most effectively.

After going to the Dogs Playing For Life Mentorship, my shelter was able to get some ideas on how to introduce Ginger to other dogs while being able to take proper safety precautions in the event of a fight. Very quickly we were able to graduate Ginger up to the point where she did not need a muzzle or need to drag a leash when playing with other dogs. After capturing some incredible videos of Ginger playing, we decided we needed to redo her marketing and make it our mission to get Ginger into a home before she hit her one-year anniversary living at the shelter.

We posted her on our Facebook multiple times, shared some videos of her playing with another male dog, and created an anti-anniversary photo. Within a couple of days, a new family came in and took her home. They previously had a dog that highly resembled our Ginger physically and behaviorally, so they were more than ready to take her as their own. We couldn’t be happier for Ginger finally being adopted!

It is programs like Dogs Playing for Life that show how much a shelter can do to positively influence animals’ lives inside the shelter environment and out in the real world, post-adoption. The knowledge acquired through this mentorship program has shown itself to be completely priceless. Just like the motto says, as humans, we need to see that dogs live to play, so we need to do everything we can to let them play to live!

Prairie Paws Animal Shelter: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

We were ecstatic to be able to send Tim, our director of operations, to the week-long Dogs Playing for Life mentorship at Pets Alive in Austin thanks to the grant received from the Petfinder Foundation.

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

Tim came back with a wealth of knowledge for the Dogs Playing for Life program. It will help get dogs out of their kennels and into playgroups, where they can have fun, work off excess energy, and learn social skills under the watchful eye of staff.

How many pets did this grant help?

This knowlege is going to help hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs that come through our shelter. Playgroups not only help keep dogs mentally healthy, they also help us get a much better idea of how a dog will behave in a home outside the shelter. Playgroups can even help with capacity-for-care issues, as kennel cleaning can be done efficiently while dogs are in their playgroups.

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

This grant helped Tim, our director of operations, really, truly understand the mind of the dog — which every dog that comes through our shelter will benefit from. He can’t wait to begin sharing his knowledge with the staff.

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

What was the money or product used for?

Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training program in Longmont, CO.

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

Carrie Branum, our enrichment specialist, joined our organization after our onsite DPFL training. At the very least, we shared our experience with her. When she attended the training, she found out we had done a pretty good job, but there was so much more! Carrie says, “My days included getting a behind-the-scenes. The set-up at Longmont Humane Society presented a very different environment and I learned so much about meet/greet rituals, humping issues, and special pressure, and that the dogs actually switch play styles! Most importantly, I learned to utilize all the tools and techniques to support healthy and appropriate behavior for the pets AND the volunteers. The “balance training approach” uses the tools of reward and correction, which can save pets from the merry-go-round of failed adoptions or needless euthanasia. With this in-depth training, I have begun to work with our volunteer dog walkers differently and have more confidence in the playgroups than I ever thought possible. The stress of kennel life for the dogs is simply lessened and frankly, without this environment, I am not sure how the dogs could be adopted in our small community or be eligible for transport to our rescue partners. The experience has made me more eager to share this program with any and all of our dog residents, soon to be in their homes with skills to make sure they live happily ever after!”

How many pets did this grant help?

Since the inception of the DPFL program at our shelter in November 2016, 180 dogs have been adopted or transferred from our shelter. Without DPFL, this could not have happened.

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

Boss was surrendered to the shelter in Alpine for being “too rough” with his dog siblings. For this reason, he was initially kept separate from other dogs, though through the first DPFL training that we had had on-site, we observed him at gates with other dogs and eventually brought him into small playgroups. Boss clearly shed some of his shelter stress once he participated in playgroups, and he was a better-than-most playmate with other dogs, eventually becoming a rock star. He also showed a particularly tender heart for puppies — something the volunteers would not have tried without seeing him interact with other dogs his size first.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant (Invitation Only) Grant Report

What was the money or product used for?

The grant monies awarded were utilized exclusively to cover the costs of tuition for ASD’s Canine Enrichment Coordinator, Savannah Cavanaugh, at the Longmont Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Program on Aug. 14, 2017.

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

Your enrichment training helped in offering key strategies to our first-ever full-time Canine Enrichment Coordinator, allowing her to roll out a program incorporating best practices from the onset. Her first day on the job was Aug. 14 at your training. The training helped her identify key programs for implementation at the shelter. This has exponentially increased the number of pets engaging in enrichment opportunities at ASD.

How many pets did this grant help?

700+. The Enrichment Program has reached an average of 70 pets on a weekly basis in the 10 weeks since implementation began.

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

Rocxie (A1901834) is a 60-lb. tricolored terrier mix who came to ASD via local law enforcement. In her previous life, Rocxie witnessed much trauma to herself and her owner. Extremely fearful, she would hide at the back of her kennel, not coming forward at all. Ms. Cavanaugh immediately began working with her, and within one month could handle her fully, despite Rocxie being fearful around other people. Still making improvements, Rocxie perseveres. She has started seeking the attention of kennel staff and volunteers during playgroups, demonstrating a playful side that is finally, gently, stepping forward. Rocxie is sweet and highly adoptable, and ASD has every confidence that she will find a happy forever home soon.

Ebony is a medium-sized black German shepherd who was quickly identified by veterinary staff as needing enrichment. She entered the shelter with what presented as a neurological deficit, as she tends to walk in circles. She was introduced to daily playgroups so she could play and socialize with other dogs. Given her unknown neurological disorder, participating in the enrichment program gave Ebony a chance for life outside the shelter, and improvements were noted immediately after inclusion in playgroups. She was recently rescued by a Canadian rescue group with a sanctuary and the ability to provide her with greater medical attention.