For many of our dogs who are working on their canine manners and sociability, we utilize a program called “It Takes a Village.” The behavior team works to pair up dogs and staff members to increase their time out of kennel, and also work on manners and skills.
Sometimes this looks like taking a dog on a walk or working in a yard on skills like “lay down,” “drop it,” or “find it,” while other times it can simply be having a dog in a staff member’s office during the day. Sometimes the dogs in our care don’t have any experience walking on a leash. In this instance, a staff member would pair up with that dog to work on leash walking to reduce pulling and weaving all over the place–essential to prepare the dog for adoption. Other times, dogs have lots of experience walking on leashes and are familiar with people, but are terrified of the shelter and the noises of other dogs. Taking that sort of dog into an office for a break is an incredibly effective way to provide a safe space for decompression and ultimately lower the cortisol coursing through a dog in a scary situation.
One of our currently available dogs, Benji, has been working with his “It Takes a Village” staff member, Erin. Erin works in the foster department on foster care placement and will often take Benji on walks and have him join her in her office. They will work on skills and manners, comfortability with people (Benji has recently started snuggling with Erin on the ground), and they play with LOTS of toys. Benji is a huge stuffies man.
Erin says, “He looks deep into your soul! He loves to curl up after a big game of fetch and snuggle in your arms or by himself. He is very smart and can learn new tricks and cues without treats…just lots of positive affirmations. He really is the best boy!”
Benji is regal and radiant and so ready to find his forever home. He truly is the life of the party and LOVES meeting new people. At 6 years old, Benji is on medication for arthritis. Though he will have to continue this medication with his new family, he doesn’t let him slow it down.
His ideal day looks like taking a walk where he gets to explore and adventure, playing with his stuffies, and napping with the people he loves.