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Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

The grant was used to cover the costs of a four-day mentorship with Dogs Playing for Life (DPFL) in Longmont, Colorado.

The four days that our Playgroup Coordinator, Suzanne Petroni, spent in Longmont with DPFL gave her the skills and confidence to be able to lead our team of volunteers and staff in getting EVERY DOG in our Animal Care Center out to play, EVERY DAY.

After returning from her mentorship program, Suzanne set up a series of trainings where she has introduced the DPFL playgroup-management style to a dozen new volunteers and our kennel staff. She has also provided updated/refresher training for seven additional volunteers who had previously been supporting playgroups on an ad-hoc basis.

With this training and under Suzanne's leadership, we have introduced to our playgroups numerous dogs who had previously been deemed "dog-aggressive," or whose on-leash reactivity was so severe that we did not want them around other dogs. The results have been astounding. Several of these dogs have been with us for more than a year, and had not been allowed to be close to another dog -- on leash or off -- during their entire stay. Nona, Titan, Gray and Parker are among those long-stay pups who now bounce out of their kennels and into the yard for a romp and wrestle with their new buddies. New dogs who were surrendered to us due to "dog-aggressive behaviors" are also in the mix, being given a new opportunity to play, likely with better supervision and support than ever before.

Instead of immediately bringing dogs back to their kennels if they instigate altercations, we are practicing Continued Play Recovery (CPR), allowing dogs involved in such altercations to "shake it off" and complete their playgroup experience positively.

We have established a daily playgroup schedule, with our kennel staff bringing small groups out during the day and our trained volunteers leading larger and longer playgroups every evening. Our dogs are now more physically and mentally exercised than ever before, and their on-leash behavior, as well as their ability to engage with people, has improved significantly. We are also now able to provide more complete assessments about their behavior to potential adopters.

In short, this grant has tremendously improved the quality of life and adoptability for the dogs in our care. We are so grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the DPFL Mentorship program.

How many pets did this grant help?

More than 100 so far

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

There are so many great stories, but this is perhaps one of our favorites: You’ve just arrived at the big school dance. You’re alone and feeling awkward while you look for your friends. You scan the crowd, and that’s when you see her. In that instant, she spots you too, and both of your faces widen into smiles. You throw your arms into the air and run toward one another, united again!

This is what happens pretty much every day in playgroup when Sharon (first photo) enters the play yard and sees her BFF, Memphis (second photo). They are the most adorable thing! He immediately gallops over to her and they reunite with wide smiles and “I only have eyes for you” play. (We posted this video on our Facebook page.)

This pairing was completely unexpected. Both dogs came to us with the awkwardness of young teenagers. Neither had any idea how to play with other dogs. Sharon was the wallflower, literally leaning against the wall of the play yard, waiting for someone to ask her to dance.

Memphis came to us nearly a year before Sharon. He was a loner for a long time, with so many people assuming (wrongly) that he wouldn’t get along with other dogs.

As soon as we got Memphis into playgroup, he made progress in leaps and bounds. Over the course of several months, he went from being socially awkward to becoming our playgroup’s biggest rock star. He helps new dogs get comfortable, diffuses tense situations between his friends and always brings the fun. Having Memphis in the play yard was the key to helping Sharon get comfortable there, as it has been for many of our dogs. Nowadays, the two are good friends who enjoy the company of one another and of multiple other dogs in the play yard.

The power of play has done wonders for the dogs in our care, including Memphis and Sharon.

Memphis and Sharon are still available, but we’re doing our very best to find their furever homes! Meet Memphis here. Meet Sharon here.

Further Reading