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Pets Are Worth Saving, Inc.: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

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

We received the Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant at a perfect time. In August of 2022, our shelter rescued 34 dogs from an abandonment situation. While in our care, one of them gave birth to a litter of six. Adding 40 to the nine already in our kennel was the biggest intake our shelter had ever done.

We have just five kennels and we live in North Central Montana. Our winters are brutal, so the dogs do not spend much time outside. The Orvis grant allowed us to purchase additional toys, puzzles, treat balls, and other enrichment items to keep their brains busy until the weather was milder.

Of the large intake, none of the dogs had ever played with toys, so it took a little while for them to get used to the idea of someone tossing a ball for fun. It didn't take long before the dogs started choosing which toy suited them (Ripley, however, believed that ALL the toys suited him!). We were very happy to be able to afford a large number of toys and puzzles for them.

How many pets did this grant help?

We currently have 14 dogs at our shelter. Our average annual intake is 80-100 dogs.

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

One of the items we purchased was a child’s musical play mat. The reason we chose this specific item was because the dogs in our care are incredibly timid and had never seen anything like it. We wanted to expand their experiences by introducing them to noises they had never heard. We also wanted to see who was interested when the mat made a noise, which noises they were interested in, etc.

Leah (first photo) was one of the abandoned dogs that we rescued, part of the large group. She had a litter of pups in October and, because she was isolated with them, she didn’t get out much to play with the other dogs. She was more interested in getting back to her pups.

As the pups got older, she started to come out more to see what everyone else was up to. We put the musical play mat and another child’s pop-up toy on the floor and she had a great time with both of them! When she pushed on one button, a little slot would pop up and make a sound. Not only did this interest her, but the other shelter dogs came around to see what the noise was. They were pretty nervous about it, but they were very curious as they watched Leah play with it.

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