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League for Animal Welfare: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

We received a $1,000 grant to fund a staff member's attendance at a Dogs Playing for Life mentorship in Longmont, CO.

Our shelter houses 36-40 dogs, and was not doing any form of dog-socialization enrichment (i.e. dogs were not getting to meet and play with other dogs). As a result, we were having a difficult time:
- getting the dogs enough physical enrichment to satisfy their needs,
- introducing our dogs to adopters' dogs, and
- teaching staff and volunteers how to properly introduce dogs and read body language.

When we committed to changing this paradigm, we decided to send a staff member for training, and also to host Dogs Playing for Life at our facility. We wanted to have a staff member who had a lot of hands-on experience with dog playgroups and was very comfortable with the idea, and also to have ancillary staff and volunteers who were familiar and relatively comfortable with the protocols to help implement playgroups.

Our staff member was trained in June and Dogs Playing for Life came to our facility in August. We have been doing playgroups four days a week since August, with amazing success.

We have six staff members and 10 volunteers actively engaged. The program has improved our adoptions tremendously, as our adoption counselors now have a better sense of how our dogs interact with other dogs (they have more information about the dogs' personalities and are better able to facilitate dog introductions).

It has also improved our staff members' confidence in their dog-handling abilities. It has made our dogs much calmer. It has just made a tremendous difference in both our dogs and our staff.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Reid (first photo) was a black-and-white pit bull — just another black-and-white pit bull, passed over time and time again by adopters. He was too strong for many of our volunteers to collar and walk him. He was hyper. He was reactive in his kennel with other dogs, so we assumed he had to be an only pet. He didn’t get out much for walks, and his behavior was deteriorating.

After our staff member was trained by DPFL and started running playgroups, it turned out that Reid was an absolute rockstar in playgroups (second photo) — a dog who gets along with every other dog he was introduced to (a “helper” dog).

Our adoption counselors had been nervous around him because he was a big, burly, strong pittie. But after getting him into playgroups and seeing how incredible he was, they almost immediately found him an adopter — an older man who lives with his 90-year old mother! They just sent us an update on Reid, and he’s doing wonderfully in their home and is best friends with the mom.

Reid would have sat in our shelter for another year, his behavior continuing to deteriorate because he had so much energy and so desperately wanted social interaction with other dogs. We never would have recognized that — but doing so made a world of difference for our staff and for him.

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