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Norfolk Animal Care Center: Dogs Playing for Life Mentorship Grant Report

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

For a staff member to attend Dogs Playing for Life training in Austin, TX.

Provided a knowledge and skill foundation for implementing dog playgroups as part of daily care and enrichment.

How many pets did this grant help?


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

Champ, a beefy American bulldog mix, was not adapting well to life in the shelter. His barrier reactivity intimidated customers and he pulled violently on-leash. After a near redirect-bite to a volunteer, he was restricted as a “staff-only” dog and removed from the adoption floor. Using the DPFL platform, we began auditioning Champ with a smaller groups of known dogs. Champ was noticeably tense when meeting new dogs, but remained respectful of their space and seemed to know how to de-escalate rising tensions from other dogs. After only his second group session, Champ showed no reactivity to other kenneled dogs as he was walked back to his run with a completely loose leash. Champ never played with other dogs, but the time he spent freely navigating space among other dogs seemed to be the cure for his kennel frustration. Once we saw this, Champ was moved back to the adoption floor with a much-improved kennel presence and was adopted within 10 days.

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