Adopt-A-Dog, Inc.: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report
How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?
Mirror - $24.99. Placed outside of kennel runs to give the dogs a new visual, instead of the concrete wall in front of their kennel door.
Unbreakoball - $18.67. Given to our more aggressive chewers who cannot be given normal dog toys. It's a boredom buster and can be stuffed with food to keep the dogs engaged for hours in their kennels.
Auggie Octopus Hut Play Tent - $17.00. Placed in kennel runs to give the dogs a new environment to explore to make their kennel runs more exciting.
KingCamp Camping Chair - $48.28. Used in kennel runs to give the dogs a chance to get off of the concrete to sit somewhere more comfortable.
AM/FM Radio - $24.99. Provides our dogs with calming music so they can hear something other than the barking of other dogs.
Paint - $100. Used to make the kennel runs more calming, rather than the white walls that were there before.
Fooblers (x2) - $55.78. Toy designed to let out small portions of food every 15 minutes throughout the day, which allows our dogs to stay entertained for hours!
Enrichment Yard Project:
- Screws and Bolts - $23.94
Different Materials to Explore
- Sand - $63.92
- Bark Chips - $13.94
- Hay - $12.00
- 100 ft Steel Galvanized Wire - $7.61. Where treats and toys can be hung for dogs to play with in the yards.
- Mooring Rings (x2) - $10.82. Used to secure the wire to the trees to create the zip line.
- Wood - $247.40. Used to build the play structure and underground tunnel
- Scoop Slide - $88.99. Installed in the play structure to give our dogs a new experience to explore.
- 150 Gallon Stock Tank - $246.99. Installed as a larger pool in the yard so the dogs would actually be able to swim in it.
An animal shelter is meant to be a temporary stop on an animal’s way to a forever home. Most shelters are not built for long-term stays or with the supplies needed to maintain an animal’s quality of life while in the shelter environment, because their length of stay is expected to be short. However, what happens to those dogs who, for one reason or another, get overlooked for adoption? Some of these dogs wait a few more days than other dogs to find their perfect match, but most are more likely to stay in shelters for weeks or months.
These dogs who must wait months typically begin to lose their sanity in one way or another. They may show obsessive behaviors such as licking the fencing, pacing, or spinning in circles. Others might demonstrate self-harming behaviors such as chewing on paws obsessively or trying to escape and injuring themselves in the process. Others just shut down in the stressful environment and can no longer connect with people who come to see them. None of these behaviors make a dog more adoptable, and instead increase their time in the shelter by making them less desirable to potential adopters.
At Adopt-A-Dog, our goal is to provide the highest quality of life possible to our animals, whether they need to stay with us for a few days or a few months prior to finding the happily-ever-after they deserve. We do everything in our power to stave off this kennel insanity that other shelter environments may not be able to avoid. We do so by increasing the mental stimulation of our animals and by providing them with enrichment. We keep our animal numbers manageable so that each dog is able to get individualized training, socialization, and enrichment specifically tailored to their needs. These programs keep our dogs happy and engaged while they stay with us, and this, in turn, makes them much more adoptable.
We are so grateful that the Petfinder Foundation and the Orvis Company have seen the potential with our program and graciously given us a grant to help us continue to save the lives and minds of our kennel dogs while they wait for loving homes. A lot of thought has been put into potential uses for the generous grant, and we have decided to put the donation towards amplifying the effects of our enrichment program.
Our enrichment program involves two parts: in-kennel and out-of-kennel enrichment. Part of our grant was used to increase our in-kennel enrichment, making life less stressful for our dogs while they are in our kennels. While our dogs do get out of their kennel runs three to four times a day for out-of-kennel enrichment, they still spend an average of 22 hours a day isolated in these kennel runs. We have found that the best way to provide in-kennel enrichment is to appeal to the five senses of our dogs to keep them mentally engaged, and also relaxed. The majority of the grant, however, is being put towards a project to increase our dogs’ out-of-kennel enrichment.
We are blessed at our shelter to have two large exercise yards. They are big enough for our dogs to run around with other dog friends, and for them to engage with volunteers and staff members in games and socialization. Dogs who stay with us for only a few weeks thoroughly enjoy exploring our yards, however, when dogs need to stay with us for extended periods of time, these yards quickly lose their excitement and our dogs become bored. Our goal is to use the majority of our grant to construct a creative, fun, and exciting space for our dogs to explore, where they will never lose their zest for life. This enrichment yard will keep them engaged and exploring every time they come out of their kennels, so that they can remain adoptable, and even learn new behaviors to increase their adoptability. The enrichment yard has several sections: a pool for the dogs to swim in, a tunnel to run through, a play structure to climb, a zip line where toys and food can be dangled and played with, tires filled with different materials to explore, and tire structures to play on/in.
How many pets did this grant help?
Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.
Winston (first photo) is one of our longer-term residents. He is an adult pit bull mix who takes a long time to warm up to new people. We knew when we met him that he would take quite some time to find the right home, but we knew he would be worth the effort to find him that family. He entered a training program and we began to see steady improvement. After a few months of training, Winston was officially ready to be adopted, and now it is just a waiting game. He is ready for his family but we must wait for a family to be ready for him. This may take a few more weeks, months or, unfortunately, maybe even years. In that time we want to guarantee that he is still mentally sound and ready for adoption even after living in a shelter environment. The new enrichment yard has been amazing for him! Every day outside is now a new adventure. He dives in the tunnels, chases the toys from the zip line, and explores the different surfaces (his favorite is the hay!). He is pictured in the first photo enjoying his new favorite spot in the yard. Instead of being bored during his outdoor time, he now runs, plays and explores, which will keep his mind fresh for months to come so he will still be adoptable when his family finally finds him! Meet Winston: www.petfinder.com/petdetail/31305582
Tampa (second photo) arrived at Adopt-A-Dog as a 3-month-old puppy with kennel cough. Once he was done with his quarantine and treatment and finally healthy, he was 4 months old and no longer as desired by adopters. He was now a larger, mouthier puppy who needed an experienced owner. Growing up in a shelter is incredibly detrimental to a puppy’s development. They don’t learn the behaviors necessary for a home as quickly, and they are more difficult to house train. Tampa was quickly becoming more energetic and needed to be kept busy in his kennel run in addition to his normal hour of exercise a day. We got him enrichment toys, which kept him busy and entertained all day long, so that when his perfect home came along, he was able to meet them calmly, rather than overstimulated. His new family was so impressed by his behavior when they met him, even after he had been at our shelter for three months, that they took him home that day! The third photo is Tampa with his new dad.
Panda (fourth photo) was found in an abandoned building in a crate and terrified after having been there for some time. When she came to our shelter, she was very scared of the world. Normally we would socialize our dogs by bringing them to new locations and having them meet people at events. Panda, however, was just too shut-down to enjoy going off-property. Having the enrichment yard gave Panda a chance to explore new things on safe ground. She was initially scared of all the new materials, but each day she came out of her shell more and more until she had enough confidence to finally go off-property. Now Panda can go on adventures to the beach, and when her forever family finds her, she will be ready to go home with them with confidence! The fourth photo is of Panda playing in the yard. UPDATE April 2017: Panda has been adopted!