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Whitman County Humane Society: Orvis Dog Enrichment Grant Report

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

The grant money that we received was used for purchasing new enrichment items for the dogs that are living at or will come to Whitman County Humane Society. These items are being used to make the dogs' stays more enjoyable and make them more adoptable!

Some of the items that were purchased included Petstages Dogwood Stick chew toys and a Rubbermaid tote to contain multiple toys that now lives in our play yard so the staff and volunteers have quick and easy access to toys to provide for the dogs during that enrichment activity. Quite a few food enrichment items were purchased that included Lickimats, a Trixie Mad Scientist food windmill, a Foobler ball, chain belt sets to make frozen treats to hang from the fences, and SmartBones calming chews to help keep the dogs busy while helping to keep them calm in an environment as stressful as a shelter.

One item from our original proposal that was not purchased was popsicle molds. This decision was made due to the item that we were wanting to purchase no longer being available and other options were more expensive than we were willing to spend.

Play sand and a flirt pole were also purchased, which allow the dogs to experience new physical activities, from digging in sand to jumping and chasing the fleece lure on the flirt pole. To stimulate sensory enrichment, a portable speaker that plays calming music was purchased, as well as windchimes. The dogs have enjoyed listening to sounds that were not other dogs barking.

The initial proposal put the items that we wanted to purchase at $959.23, and we requested the full $1,000 to account for changes in price and shipping for the items. When ordering the items, quite a few were under the price that was initially seen and reported. This allowed for funds that otherwise would not be used if solely going off our proposal to purchase other items that were not initially included. In the effort to not waste any grant money that we received, we purchased new gentle leaders, easy-walk harnesses, and chain leashes. These items are being used to train the dogs to walk on a loose leash -- a characteristic that makes a dog more adoptable! Some dogs that come to us can be very destructive and mouthy towards a leash; a chain leash discourages the dog from grabbing the leash and pulling on it and/or chewing through it.

This grant has helped our dogs experience more positive interactions with the staff and volunteers. Before, we did not have many options in terms of enrichment. What the dogs had before were old and highly chewed-up toys, broken puzzle feeders, and KONGS. Now the dogs who come into our care have more ways to work their brains and bodies. The new food enrichment items allow for the dogs to get their meals in new and fun ways! New chew toys give the dogs something that they can chew and munch on. The grant has also helped allow the dogs to get more exercise with having more durable leashes and harnesses while also using the time as a training period so they know how to walk on a leash when they are adopted.

How many pets did this grant help?

Since the receipt of this grant we have helped 18 dogs, with more to come as more dogs come to our shelter.

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

In early January, a dog named Pippin was surrendered to our shelter. We knew he was an anxious guy, but we never anticipated how difficult his shelter stay would be for him. We saw a young border collie with happy eyes on day one, and that quickly changed. He absolutely shut down in the shelter. Within his first week here, he bit one of our staff members. We discovered that Pippin was incredibly food-aggressive and in the shelter felt as though his resources were going to be taken from him.

Of course, once he had a bite history, finding him a home took a long time. We found ways to work around him and try to grow his confidence with us. Our resources were limited, and our toys and puzzles were too worn down to stimulate Pippin in the ways he needed.

With training and all the new toys and enrichment activities that we were able to purchase with the Orvis Animal Care Grant, Pippin started to show us those happy eyes again.

On August 4, Pippin found his happy ending. His new “mom” had been following him for months. She put in the work and did the research to help make Pippin’s transition to the home a successful one. We are so glad we were able to give Pippin what he needed with your generous gift and start him on the path of rehabilitation and help him become confident enough to overcome his initial fears so much so that he was finally adopted!

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