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Oracle Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc.: Grant Report

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

We received a grant for $500 for training for our dogs with behavior issues. We matched the grant money 1.5 times with donations from our donors and donations of time from two professional trainers. Because of the pandemic, group classes were not available. Instead we were able to schedule 22 private sessions for five different dogs, working on a variety of issues, from lack of basic manners (jumping up and mouthing) and separation anxiety/isolation distress to dog-aggression and people-reactivity.

Dogs with behavioral issues can be difficult, if not impossible, to place in adoptive homes. Instead of these wonderful animals having families of their own, they become long-timers in rescue or, worse, go from home to home, returning repeatedly to the rescue as their behavioral issue manifests in each home. Of the five dogs who were lucky enough to work with our trainers over the last few months, two have been adopted and two have gone into, or been able to stay in, their foster-to-adopt homes. The fifth dog, while not yet adoptable, has made significant progress with the help of his trainers.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

It’s difficult to express how much impact this training grant had; it was absolutely critical to the dogs involved. Liam (first photo) is a 1-year-old terrier mix we took in after his family lost their home in a fire. He was very undersocialized and had no prior training in basic manners. He had never been on a leash when we got him and pancaked on the ground every time we put a leash on. But off-leash, he was a maniac. He turned into a 65-lb. missile, happily running and launching himself at people. He was a friendly mess.

The wonderful couple fostering Liam had no obedience training experience. One session with the trainer gave them the tools to get Liam moving in the right direction, toward being a polite guy who knew his manners. During his adoption home-check a few weeks later, he was such a gentleman and his new family commented on how well-mannered he was compared to his two new canine sisters. He remains in his permanent home.

Sadie (second and third photos) is an Australian cattle dog who came from the county animal shelter, pregnant and with a large-caliber bullet lodged in her head. We didn’t see any separation anxiety in her foster home, but after less than two weeks in her foster-to-adopt home, Sadie destroyed about $3,000 worth of window coverings. That would normally ensure a dog’s return to the rescue, because most adopters aren’t both willing or able to address such a serious problem.

Because of our training grant, we were able to respond immediately with assistance for Sadie and her foster-to-adopt family. Combined with anti-anxiety medication, the separation-anxiety protocol we’ve worked on with her foster-to-adopter and the trainers has allowed Sadie to stay in her new home. Although not adopted yet, her foster-to-adopter is grateful for the support we’ve been able to give her and has no intention of returning Sadie.

Arvin (fourth and fifth photos) is an 8-month-old Lab/hound mix who was returned to the rescue after a few months in a foster-to-adopt home. Originally a well-balanced puppy, Arvin was in crisis when he came back. He was highly reactive to all people, lunging, barking and threatening to bite. He was terrified. We have devoted most of the training grant to helping Arvin.

He is now able to spend time in public places like shopping centers and restaurant patios without reacting to most people. He is not yet able to handle people approaching him, but he has made tremendous progress and is working hard. We are committed to marshaling funds to continue his training, with the hope that he will be adoptable in time.

Lily 2 (sixth and seventh photos) was a great dog wrapped in a difficult-to-adopt package: a strong, boisterous, 1 1/2-year-old American pit bull terrier. She was returned by one potential adopter after two days for being “an angel inside the house and a devil outside.” Her training centered on directing her boundless energy and improving her self-control, making her more manageable. She has been adopted by a family that loves her enthusiasm, but also appreciates that she is able to listen and focus.

Lily 3 (eighth photo) is a 4-year-old cattle dog mix who ran loose in our town (and had multiple litters of puppies) before we were finally able to catch her. She was a timid but perfect dog in her foster home for five months. Her foster family planned to adopt her once she recovered from kidney failure (possibly caused by anesthesia during her spay).

Without apparent warning, Lily 3 and another female dog in the foster home began fighting. Neither dog had a problem with any other dog we’d seen them with. The altercations were increasing in severity. Despite work by the trainer and her foster, we determined that Lily 3 could not safely remain in the home. The benefit in her training, though, was that we are confident we did everything we could to keep Lily 3 in the home where she was loved and that, when that didn’t work, we were able to get her ready to safely go to a new home. She is now in a foster-to-adopt home where she is wowing her new family with her lovely behavior and personality.

Our experience with our small sample of five dogs showed us what we expected to see: Behavioral modification and training saves lives because it gets dogs into homes and keeps them there. We’re incredibly grateful and will work to make our training program a permanent feature of our rescue.