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Humane Society of Valdosta/Lowndes County: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

This grant helped teach our dog-handling staff safe and proper techniques to work with and handle the dogs that come into our care. All of our dogs come from our county municipal shelter and oftentimes require extra or special attention due to their traumatic pasts.

Thanks to this grant, we have been able to help more and more dogs who are nervous, shy, and barrier- and/or leash-reactive. We also gained a lot of knowledge on enrichment ideas for dogs in our kennels.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Almond was brought into our local county shelter as a stray. At the time she was very pregnant and a few days after arriving she gave birth to seven puppies.

Due to certain procedures in place at the shelter, Almond was never brought outside for the next six weeks. She was kept in her kennel with her puppies continuously. She never received affection or enrichment. She did not interact with other dogs and had absolutely no escape from her puppies.

As you can imagine, this caused her to begin becoming extremely barrier-reactive to other dogs in neighboring kennels or those walking by. It reached a boiling point with the shelter staff, who wanted to remove her from her puppies and be done with her.

If we did not pull Almond from the county shelter, they were going to euthanize her. We couldn’t and wouldn’t let that happen. We took Almond into our care and, as soon as she had the freedom of the play yard to herself, she didn’t run or jump; she barely even sniffed around the yard. All she wanted was to be loved on.

Once she was back in her kennel, Almond lost it. She was jumping up and down, running back and forth in her kennel, constantly barking at the other dogs in kennels a few doors down from her. Nothing could distract her: not us, not toys, not even treats.

That evening we introduced her to another dog to see how she really does. How much was the barking show and how much did she mean it? When she first came out, it was like a shot from a cannon. She immediately took all of her almost two months of pent-up frustration on poor Brad.

Thankfully, Brad was the absolute best helper dog and did not fight back or overreact. In utilizing our playgroup tools with the spray bottle and shaker can, we were able to slow Almond down and snap her out of it and calm her down, although she’d scared Brad pretty good and he wasn’t super interested in attempting to play anymore.

The next morning when they came out together, there was a moment where Almond started to race towards him but then stopped herself from going too far. She was definitely unsure of Brad’s intentions when he would play bark at her, and she continued to correct him to give her space.

The next session together, Almond came out calmly. No overreaction whatsoever. She still wasn’t interested in really playing with Brad, and she wasn’t comfortable enough to trust him.

Over the next few weeks, Almond met several other dogs and did amazing. Shortly before leaving on her LifeRide Transport, she and another adult dog, Jerry, started to play! Almond was a lot in her play and very vocal, but Jerry was completely comfortable with it and they played so great together.

She was transported to the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and, as of submitting this follow-up report, is not longer on their Petfinder page, so we believe she may have finally been adopted!

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