It’s a cold, hard fact that dogs and cats are abandoned or neglected at an alarming rate in the nation’s capital. Many DC animals are left on the streets or dropped on the doorsteps of our adoption centers. Some animals come to the Washington Humane Society (WHS) because they are victims of cruelty and we need to find them a safer place to live. Others suffer a broken bond with their human companion for any number of reasons. We take them all in without judgment, but sadly, it is a tremendous challenge to find good homes for all of these animals—a feat only possible if we all band together as a community.
As trainers we are at fault for this, we have spent so much time stressing the need for socialization we forgot to explain what we meant. Socialization means Desensitization. We want a puppy to have positive interactions with a variety of people, dogs, and situations, so he learns to be comfortable or ignore those things as, normal and non-threatening. It doesn't require a "puppy party", just a willingness to take treats to new locations /situations and give the puppy a nice experience when there.
Alumni Friday: Snoopy
“On January 27, 2011, we adopted a 4-year-old male Shih Tzu named Snoop…We changed his name to Snoopy and he didn't seem to mind.
Well, what about the adoption? What a love affair. He is the smartest, cutest, sweetest, most loveable little guy and we probably spoil him rotten but then we get back so much love and fun that it only seems a fair trade. We understand that after four years his previous owners just brought him into the shelter and gave him up. They must have been nuts or desperate to give up a pet this wonderful.
He's a great traveler, loves to ride in the car, and so far he's been to Canada, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida, making friends wherever he goes.
Snoopy is definitely not a lap dog. He doesn't jump up in my lap...unless I'm snacking on something. Then he's standing on my chest, nose against mine, demanding his share (which he always gets).
Anyway, I thought you'd like to know that this was an adoption made in heaven; we're nuts about Snoopy.”
I know my person, Marika, isn’t the brightest. She’s stubborn, easily distracted and will even ignore me when I give her a direct request (if there is something she would rather do). At first I thought it was because of her breed, but I have come to realize that she had not been taught her to walk on lead politely when she was young. She had been taught that she was supposed to “Be the Boss” and she was told things like, “Walk your dog, don’t let him walk you!” While I am sure this advice was well-meaning, it lead to bad habits that took a long time for me to train out of her.
In the beginning, she seemed to completely ignore wonderful smells that we should have gone to investigate. She would walk as if I wasn’t even there, never making eye contact or stopping to play together. She would change directions suddenly and without warning. She got flustered and panicky when we saw a dog that I wanted to sniff and play with. When people who approached us in an intimidating and unfriendly manner, she didn’t even notice and I was forced to see them off with a sound barking. Even that did not reassure her. She would pull me away, yanking my neck. This added to my frustration.
Over the last two years she has improved immensely. She finally started to realize that she needed to give warning before changing directions. These days she brings along treats. These are much more interesting than other dogs. She learned not to get so close to dogs and so obviously the treat took precedence.
I have to say that I learned more patience as well.
I realized that in some ways I was setting her up to fail, I would cross back and forth in front of her to sniff the path and she would trip on me, so now I stay to one side unless she has indicated a need to switch sides. I will also check in with her regularly, to make sure she is still paying attention to me, and ever for this she has learned to give me a treat occasionally.
Now that she behaves properly, people don’t bother us anymore. Because she has learned to check in with me, I can let her know when I would like to go sniff a good smell for awhile. Now we do this together! I am delighted that she has learned to relax and take in the smellery. We also play a fun game where we change directions together and run quickly, then slow down at the same moment. Obviously she needed to learn to communicate better what she wanted and really, I have learned so much by training her. She isn’t perfect. Occasionally she will still embarrass me. Like the other day when I saw a squirrel for the first time, I clearly indicated to her that we should chase it and she completely ruined the moment with her clumsy stumbling and falling to the ground. I know she will continue to improve, but our goal of a walk together as companions and friends is not so far off.
Submitted by Ripley, proud pup of WHS Director of Behavior and Training, Marika Bell
My personality is sunny because I am just so happy to be alive and well!!! I love to play with my toys and chase my butterfly wand. And I love to make new friends with other cats, and am a good playmate. Sometimes you'll see me shadow boxing, and sometimes I run into things, but I bounce right back. Besides my toys, my other favorite pastimes are sitting on the window sill, playing with the fringes on the rug, walking across my foster mom's computer keyboard, and having meaningful conversations with humans. I have quite a range of meows and growls. I try to memorize where everything is in each room, so that I know how to get to my litter box or to my bed. But one thing you can be certain of is that even in a room crowded with people, when I hear the voices of the humans I love, I can always find them and give them my best nuzzle of recognition. If you would like to meet me, please contact my foster mom, Emi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In August of 2009 WHS adopterd out a total of 44 animals from our Georgia Ave Adoption Center, in August of 2010 that number was 40 and in 2011 we crept back up to 43 but in 2012 we had 81 Adoptions!!! That means 81 new families built, that means 81 open cages, that means 81 lives SAVED!
Our Director of Shelter Programs Claudia Roll said it best when she said, "I just think this evening of those 81 animals- how the dogs are getting their last walk of the day, cats are snuggling on the lap of their new owner, the kittens making their owners laugh as they play. There are all part of a family".
From old to young, second chances were granted while staff smiled and said goodbye to some of thier favorites like Meringue (pictured left) who went to grow up with a loving family and safe from harm.
Claudia also speaks of one of our more senior animals finding their way into a new home. Allison, was the very first adoption of the month but certainly not a forgettable one. “The month started off with Allison's adoption. When she was brought in to the Adoption Center what we met was a 14 year old lady, who didn't seem to have any clear health problems. Sure she walked like she's little stiff, but she was excited for her walks and rewards. Enjoy your twighlight years, Allison. And to the adopter...well jeez, I'm overwhelmed”.
Cats and dogs of all ages and size found happiness with their new familes but sadly those 81 cages that became vacant filled right back up. Please help us continue this trend and help us break every life-saving record in the book, they deserve it.
Alumni Friday: Layla
“Just a quick note to let you know that Layla is settling in just wonderfully! Here she is napping with her monkey on the couch. She's such a sweet girl full of love and kisses. She especially likes herding us into the same room and/or sitting across both of us on the couch so we can’t go anywhere! I have to say, It’s quite an effective strategy!
She’s a bit silly too—she loves her Kong toy empty (but even more with peanut butter) and always checks herself out in the mirror in the lobby (guess she knows how pretty she is!). I had to travel for work and got to face time with her—she went nuts licking the screen! Too cute!
Anyway, in a nutshell, we love her so so so much! A BIG thank you to WHS for saving Layla and all that you do for animals in need!”
- Kristen & Royce
If you had told me three months ago that soon I would be that girl who only wants to talk about dogs and show off the latest photos of her dog, I never would have believed you. But, as my friends and family can attest – I have become a rescue dog enthusiast after fostering and adopting through the Washington Humane Society!
I am a graduate student, and one day while I contemplated working from home by myself all summer, it occurred to me: I could foster a dog for the summer while classes are out! We had always talked about getting a dog, but it never seemed feasible before. A week later, we brought our first foster dog home: Junie.
Junie is a two-year-old pit bull mix, and a poster child for how wonderful pit mixes can be. She will kill you with cuteness, loving stares, tail-wags, and her habit of constantly rolling over for belly rubs. Within about three hours of bringing her home, my boyfriend and I were looking at each other, muttering, “Maybe we could keep her…”
Needless to say, Junie was a “failed foster,” meaning she found her forever home with us! Fostering her gave us the opportunity to figure out how a dog would fit into our lives, and now that we have her, we don’t know how we ever managed without her! These days, I now have the perfect work-from-home buddy! We have met and befriended our dog-parent neighbors and love to take Junie on excursions to the dog park, hiking at Great Falls, and even to parties at friends’ houses (she is a hit!). We have only had her for two and a half months, but she has gained so much self-confidence with people during that time.
While another permanent member of the family is not in the cards for us right now, seeing how quickly Junie’s timidity improved once she was in a house with lots of love and stability convinced us that we should foster again, this time to help another wonderful dog find his or her forever family with someone else. We got our start just a few days ago by bringing home two itty-bitty puppies! Junie is proving to be an extremely tolerant foster mom, even when the puppies jump on her head, bite her ears, and pull her tail. We are happy knowing that while Junie teaches the pups how to be great dogs, we are helping them learn how to be great pets for someone!
Help save lives by fostering an animal today, not only does it help the foster animal but it opens up much needed space in our adoption center to help another animal! To learn more about the foster program click here