On Nov. 16th, 2010, 16 dogs from the Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, Arizona and 16 volunteers & staff entered their first 6 week basic obedience course. Seven weeks later, all 16 dogs who may have otherwise been euthanized or deemed un-adoptable were placed in homes and graduated.
On Dec. 21st, 10 more dogs and volunteers entered the next series of classes. By week 3, students dropped their leashes, turned around and walked away from their dogs. The dogs have now completing the down stay.
For half the class, I ask the human students if they did their homework. I’m not referring to just practicing with their dog, the volunteers are asked to bring in 2 facts about their breed or breeds of dog they are working with. This information can not only help the volunteer to understand different breeds but also give them valuable information they can then pass along to the new owner.
The forth class we start a marketing campaign. I urge them to take their dogs to the streets, in front of grocery stores, to adoption events to show off their skills. One volunteer even posted flyers of her dog on her car windows!
The volunteers have an emotional interest in the dog and the dog re-gains trust in a person again.
When someone spots a shelter dog doing re-fined obedience training, you have to stop and ask “Where did you get your dog?”, “How long have you been working with her?” and the list goes on.
I started this by believing that every volunteer & staff member could be a dog trainer. Their hard work, dedication and compassion for these animals has shed light that they are capable of transforming a potentially abused, stray or abandoned dog into a wonder dog.
These animals are using their minds, releasing stress, receiving enrichment and exercise and building a re-newed trust.
Many thanks go out to every volunteer & staff member that has dedicated themselves to this simple training program. With their help, we are able to place dogs in homes quicker and give them a chance at staying there. The added benefit is that each new owner is allowed to attend one of my basic obedience classes for free!
To donate to the Yavapai Humane Society in support of this program, please visit: www.crowdrise.com/jennifermccarthy