Posts Categorized: Train to Adopt

The Gift of Fun for Shelter Dogs

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Elizabeth fills KONGs with canned food and peanut butter.

What does a shelter dog want for Christmas — or any day of the year? A new trick to learn; a fun toy to play with. And our grants provide both: Train to Adopt helps shelters teach adoptable dogs basic social skills, and we’ve given more than $7,000 in enrichment toys from our friends at KONG to 10 shelters over the past two years.

We were recently reminded of how much these gifts mean to homeless dogs when we received this email from Elizabeth Richardson, a longtime volunteer at Train to Adopt shelter Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control in Charlotte, NC:

“This morning, long before dawn, I turned on the Christmas tree lights and sat in silence. Mia, my dear old Border Collie, sat close to me, as she does every morning during quiet time, staring and making sure I sit in my appointed place. Then Artie came and laid down with us. Artie is an older Chocolate Lab, but she does not sit still very often.

“The three of us sat on the floor for quite a while, and my gaze fell on the Christmas tree, which has only a couple of gifts beneath it. I prefer not to buy into December’s shopping frenzy. Yet I could not quit thinking about gifts, the furry kind with four legs. What gifts dogs are! I would rather have the company of a couple of dogs than a thousand fancily wrapped presents under the tree.

“My thoughts shifted to the dogs at our shelter, beautiful dogs waiting for someone to come along and see them. I wanted to jump up, drive quickly to shelter and tell all the dogs how good they are. And bring them gifts. I will do that later today. I will give them the gift of love, made evident in a KONG stuffed with canned food and peanut butter.

Elizabeth gives the dogs their treats.

“For a little while, the shelter dogs can enjoy some peace and quiet, like Artie and Mia and I did this morning. And maybe, in those quiet moments, a good person or two will walk in and see the beauty of these dogs, and give them the gift of loving homes.

“For the dogs at Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control, more gifts are coming, from Karen Owens, our fabulous trainer, and all the volunteers she has engaged in our Train to Adopt program. What a gift the Train to Adopt program is, bringing Karen, and hundreds of KONGs, and so many positive activities, enormously lessening the stress of kennel life.

“December 21st is the day of the year that stays dark the longest, but into this darkness, gifts of light and love will shine. I remain deeply grateful to the Petfinder Foundation, the KONG company and every person who continues to make our Train the Adopt program the gift that it is to our shelter dogs.”

All of us at the Petfinder Foundation are thrilled to be part of a program that brings such joy to homeless pets. We hope all of you will enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your family, both two-legged and four! And if you are still looking for the perfect gift, think about giving the Gift of Hope. There is no better gift than knowing you have helped a homeless pet!



A Little Training Gets a Boisterous Shelter Dog a Loving Home

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Munch, now named Hunter, with his adoptive mom, Allison

When you donate to a charity, you don’t always know how your money benefits pets. Here’s an example of how a Petfinder Foundation grant — made possible by your donations — saved the life of one shelter dog. Want to help more dogs like Munch find forever homes? Give just $5 today!

Munch came in to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control in Charlotte, NC, in November 2010. A 2-month-old stray, his outlook was grim. He was boisterous and hyper, and a big black dog (labeled a Chow Chow mix) to boot. To make matters worse, he had serious health problems: He had severe injuries after being attacked by another dog; he also had mange, and soon developed kennel cough.

But because Charlotte-Mecklenburg is one of four pilot shelters of the Petfinder Foundation’s Train to Adopt program, trainer Karen Owens was able to work with Munch after he’d recovered from his injuries and illness. She chose him because she knew that, as an energetic black dog, “he would need all the help he could get.”

As it turned out, Munch was a perfect pupil. “He had lots of energy but really thrived when his energy was channeled into training,” Owens remembers. “He was also one of the first dogs that learned the ‘are you sleepy?’ trick, in which the dog puts his head down between his paws on command. He learned it within two or three short sessions.”

Munch showed off his new trick, as well as “sit” and “down,” at an adoption event at a local mall. He was adopted on the spot, one month to the day after his first Train to Adopt session.

adopted dog

Hunter and Allison

Munch has since been renamed Hunter and is now almost 2 years old. His adoptive mom, Allison Brown, tells us, “He is absolutely the best dog! I am so grateful to Animal Control for nursing him back to health and training him. When I adopted Hunter, he was house trained as well as crate trained, and he knew how to sit, to wait for his food to be placed on the floor before he went for it, and to do ‘are you sleepy?’ — so cute!”

The fact that Hunter was a Train to Adopt graduate really made the difference in his finding — and staying in — a forever home. In fact, TTA dogs are significantly less likely to be returned to a shelter after they’re adopted. Allison tells us, “Having never had a dog before at all, the training done by Karen at Animal Control made adopting Hunter so much easier for me.”

These days, Hunter is living the good life, going on walks and runs with Allison, enjoying “run-arounds” with his best friend, Rascal, a black Lab mix who lives a few houses away, and playing tug of war with his girlfriend, Emma the pug. “He is a happy, healthy boy,” Allison says, “and I am so thankful that he is a part of my life.”

Whom can Hunter thank for his happiness? Allison, of course, for adopting him, and Karen for training him, and everyone at Charlotte-Mecklenburg for nursing him back to health — but also donors like you, who made his training possible. So give just $5 today. It may not seem like much, but it will make a world of difference to pets like Hunter.