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Kentucky Humane Society: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

We are grateful for a $1,000 grant from the Petfinder Foundation that allowed our behavior lead, Lawrence Durgasingh, to attend the Dogs Playing for Life mentorship training session at Longmont Humane Society.

Lawrence Durgasingh, behavior lead at Kentucky Humane Society, writes: "On the week of Monday, Aug. 15, 2017, I represented the Kentucky Humane Society as a mentee for the very successful shelter-enrichment program known as Dogs Playing for Life. I went into the mentorship with the objective of finding ways to implement and maintain a successful playgroup program at our main shelter.

During the four days I spent at Longmont Humane Society, I saw many different dogs, all interacting, uninhibited, during playgroups. Of those dogs, I got to observe numerous greetings between them. Being able to see such a wide array of dogs greeting and interacting was very beneficial because it gave me a clear picture of what a successful playgroup should look like. It was also useful to see how dogs are introduced to one another, and how to always do so in a way that maximizes interaction and minimizes human intervention, while still remaining safe. This will be useful for staff at KHS to get a full picture of how a dog will behave when put into a playgroup.

I also learned some useful skills that will go a long way in matching up dogs for more successful playgroups at our shelter. I learned about several different classifications of play styles and which of these play styles do or don’t go well together. This will be crucial to the success of the playgroup program KHS implements because, with our limited yard space and volunteer manpower, playgroups need to have a lot of thought put into them to ensure the dogs get the most out of their time.

Currently, KHS is building a program that uses playgroups as a method of enriching and exercising dogs who are staying at our main shelter. We hope to use the model outlined by DPFL to take data on each dog's size and play style and use it to create playgroups that help the dogs get the most out of their short amount of time outside of their kennels. We are also looking at using volunteers in a similar way that Longmont Humane does. We are hoping to train new and existing volunteers in running dogs to and from playgroups, and also introducing dogs to one another in order to assess the dog’s suitability for being in playgroups, freeing up staff members to lead those playgroups and to also fulfill cleaning duties.

How many pets did this grant help?

It will impact hundreds of dogs a year.

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

Tully (first photo) came to the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) through a transfer partnership with Animal Rescue Corps after being found on an abandoned property. He had been abandoned for months without human interaction. He was terrified of people and panicked when presented with a leash. When Tully arrived at KHS, his fear and panic were still evident. The KHS staff created a playgroup for Tully, and Tully was much more relaxed when he was with other dogs. Tully played happily with the other dogs while the staff maintained a comfortable distance. As time progressed, Tully began coming to the staff first for treats, then for attention. The team slowly helped Tully overcome his fear of the leash, and before long, he was enjoying long, relaxing walks around the Pet Retreat property.

Tully has since been adopted by a wonderful couple with a dog who is Tully’s new best friend. They fully understand that a dog with his history will always be a bit cautious in new settings, but recognize him for the sweet, lovable, playful dog who was buried under all the fear.

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