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Lost, Found and Looking

Emma has exuberance for puppy play groups

Pope Memorial Humane Society
Oct 22, 2019
Courtesy of: Pope Memorial Humane Society Emma is one of many adoptable dogs that enjoyed the play groups offered at the humane society.

From the desk of Pope Memorial Humane Society’s volunteer coordinator, Kelly Gould:

Pope Memorial staff and volunteers are excited and inspired after attending two-day training last week on how to conduct large, multi-dog playgroups. Dogs are social animals and need interaction with other dogs to be their healthiest, most well-adjusted selves, but playgroups can be a challenge in the shelter environment. Our dog population is constantly turning over and many of our dogs come in with social deficits that make their interactions with other dogs challenging. We are grateful to the Animal Farm Foundation for providing us with a grant that enabled three trainers from the organization “Dogs Playing for Life” to come up from Florida and teach us how to run play groups safely.

The training started with three hours of classroom instruction that included videos of dog-to-dog interactions, then it was a day and a half of hands-on instructions where we worked with our kennel dogs. We learned about the four different play styles, how to combine dogs with different energy levels, how to diffuse tension before conflict arises and how to safely manage large numbers of dogs in a social setting. The results were nothing short of amazing. At one point, eight dogs that previously had been lunging and snarling at other dogs through the kennel doors, were happily chasing each other and rolling around on the ground in canine bliss. Every dog that participated returned to their kennel happy, exhausted and ready for a long nap.

Canine playgroups are ideal for meeting the social, emotional and mental needs of shelter dogs but they also have a number of other benefits. Playgroups really help the staff develop a more complete picture of a dog’s personality. Dogs that may appear aggressive in their kennel can show themselves to be gentle souls in playgroup and withdrawn dogs can be the life of the party when they have the opportunity to interact with staff and other dogs in a more relaxed, natural environment. Studies have shown that participation in regular playgroups reduces a dog’s length of stay in the shelter, as adopters find happy, healthy, well-adjusted dogs more appealing.

Volunteers have already been playing a crucial role in implementing our playgroup program at Pope Memorial. With their help we are able to have almost every dog in our kennel out in a playgroup on a daily basis. If you are interested in joining the Pope Memorial Humane Society playgroup crew or in helping with any of our other animal care positions, contact or call the shelter at 594-2200.

The playgroup volunteers pick of the week is Emma, a small six year-old pit bull mix who came in with her two little Chihuahua buddies. Emma was introduced into playgroup last week, and was a bit stiff and guarded but boy, has she come out of her shell this week. She romps and plays with all her playgroup buddies and only leaves the group to come over to the handlers for a bit of snuggle time. Emma is a compact girl and is probably only 12 to 14 inches at the shoulder. She is the perfect size for someone who likes the bully breeds but doesn’t want a large dog. Emma is housebroken, crate trained and has all her basic obedience. In other words, she is ready and waiting for that special someone to take her home.

Wish list: latex gloves, temptation cat treats, canned cat food (poultry pate), dog leashes, paper towels, stamps. Thanks for your support.

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