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Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

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

Orvis Animal Care Grant funds were used to purchase enrichment items for our shelter animals. Our shelter is a no-kill shelter and animals in our care stay as long as they need to find a loving forever home. In 2020/21, the average length of stay for dogs in our shelter was 41 days and we have had three dogs stay with us for 12 to 15 months.

It is vitally important that our dogs stay engaged and get mental stimulation and physical exercise, and have items to help reduce anxiety and frustration. We have a full-time animal behavior specialist on staff who has developed excellent protocols to ensure our dogs stay happy and healthy during their time with us.

With this grant, we purchased items to be part of our shelter's daily enrichment plans. Enrichment items we purchased were: a Manners Minder treat dispenser, flirt poles, a lure course (this item ended up being donated), food puzzles, Freedom No-Pull Harnesses, Nylabones, and a Klimb platform.

This grant helped our organization and our dogs by providing important equipment that is and will be used to provide enrichment activities for our dogs so they stay engaged and receive mental stimulation and physical exercise to help reduce anxiety and frustration and promote their overall health and well-being.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

As part of the Orvis grant, we were able to purchase three flirt poles that are in daily use by staff and volunteers with our animals, especially the high-energy, adolescent dogs.

One of longer-term residents, Bruce (first photo), is rather difficult to walk because he is so aroused when he is taken out of his kennel. While he is walking, he will grab the leash and wrestle with the walker, who is struggling to keep him under control. Often, this has resulted in Bruce not being walked for the amount of time he needs for exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization. We discovered that if he is taken off leash in a play yard and allowed to chase the flag at the end of the flirt pole until he has tired, we can then put the leash back on him and walk him without him biting and tugging on the leash. You can meet Bruce here.

We also purchased, with part of the grant funds, a Blue-9 Klimb platform. This elevated deck is used in the basic manners training that we do for our dogs. We have a female cattle dog, Dingo (second photo), who was struggling with her training because she could not stay focused on the trainer. When she loses focus, she will disengage from the trainer and run around in the training area, sniffing and picking up any objects she can find and jumping on tables and chairs.

When we introduced the platform into her training routine, she quickly responded in a positive way. The raised platform defined the space she was to stay in while she was working on the behaviors we were teaching her, such as lie down, sit, hand-targeting, stay, etc. It helped her focus on the trainer rather than the distractions in the area around her. You can meet Dingo here.

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