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