Tag Archives: Adoption

Dog Depression in Shelters – Be a Foster and Save a Life!

Dennis - photo by Sara Rylander

Dennis photo by Sara Rylander

Some dogs do “ok” in a shelter environment and some dogs just start to shut down. There is a common occurrence called “Kennel Crazy” where a dog is literally going stir crazy in their kennel. This is a common occurance for long timers in a shelter.  The depression can start as listlessness, drooling, obsessive licking, spinning, cage charging, barking and other destructive behaviors.  Life at a shelter can be a jail sentence for a depressed dog. It is very hard to bring a dog back to normal behavior once he crosses over to kennel crazy.

At Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue and Adoption, in Acworth Georgia, we have great volunteers and the majority of our dogs are in foster homes.  Our mission is to pull animals from the surrounding animal control, high-kill shelters.  Sometimes, we have some long-term residents in the shelter who haven’t found their forever homes and have not been – no fosters available, larger dogs seem to be harder to foster, dog/dog fear or aggression, special needs or a plethora of other reasons.

Dennis, has been in our shelter for a while.  He’s a loving and active dog and seems to get along well with other dogs.  He can also scale a 6-foot fence and that makes him a bit of a special needs dog.  We are lucky that we have so many dedicated volunteers and have four shifts of volunteers a day come in to walk the dogs, clean cages, feed and water, etc. but that doesn’t always prevent a dog like Dennis from getting depressed.

“…when I turned back to head back to the shelter on our walk, he was noticeably upset…he just wanted to keep going,” said Julie Wall, a Mostly Mutts shelter volunteer.

When dogs fall into this depression, it effects their ability to get adopted.  The Kennel Crazy can evolve to lunging at cage front, barking at potential adopters, not being able to self sooth. The daily noise and stress of being in a shelter can make it extremely difficult to adjust to a real home life if and when they do get adopted.  Even in the best, most comfortable and high-tech shelters, the boredom of being in a smell kennel or crate 20+ hours a day among the chaos of kennel life.

If you can’t foster a dog like Dennis then consider “checking” a dog out at your local shelter.  Many shelters have programs where a volunteer can take the shelter dogs on outings. Some of our shelter residents have been hiking up Kennesaw Mountain or Red Top Mountain, boating on Lake Allatoona, or even going to weekend slumber parties at volunteers’ homes who work too many hours during the week.

Exercise, psychological stimulation and plain, old fashioned love are keys to prevent Kennel Crazy.  Can you help Dennis or a dog like Dennis in your community?  If you are interested in fostering for Mostly Mutts, check out our website.

Meet some of my new friends…

The first week of my six-week training adventure is almost over.  I’m over the moon with the class and what I’m learning.  I’m an experienced dog handler but there is so much more to the science around dog training.  Plus, what a great advantage we have being on the beautiful campus of St. Hubert’s Animal Sanctuary. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some very cool and interesting dogs here.IMG_0413

Pictured to left is Shamrock, a hound mix who is a happy-go-lucky dude.  Next to him is JR, a black retriever mix.  I’m happy to say that JR was adopted today.  I’d like to think some of the activities we did with him this week helped to get him adopted.  Although we’ve been studying behavior and not really teaching any commands, I think the socialization and attention does help.  That is one of the major reasons shelters need volunteers.  Often the staff is focused on the day-to-day efforts of running a shelter.  You don’t always get to play with dogs and cats and other companion animals when you are worried about cleanliness of the kennels, fiduciary responsibility or building projects!  If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, volunteer.  If you can’t volunteer, donate!

IMG_0408Nami is a beautiful young terrier who came from a fighting ring somewhere down in the south.  New Jersey and many of the other northern states often get imports of dogs from the south. Nami spent a lot of time with the SPCA group who works out of St. Hubert’s getting rehabilitated.  She’s still a little shy around people but she seems to love interacting with other dogs and playing!  Today was day two that she met us and seemed a lot more comfortable around the class then she was yesterday.  Plus we were inside in the training ring rather than outside enjoying the beautiful sunshine like today.  Lot’s of environmental stimulus can affect the way a dog behaves.  Clearly Nami was more at home in the play area outside then in the training ring surrounded by strangers!IMG_0404

This black and white beauty is Lita.  She is a little clown and never failed to make me laugh at her antics!  IMG_0400The handsome seal-colored man is Adonis.  You wouldn’t be able to tell but he’s a senior dog.  What you can tell about him is that he loved playing tug with that toy!!!

This is just a few of the dogs we’ve been working with at St. Hubert’s.  There are great companions like these guys in shelters all over the country and the world.  If you have a place in your home for another companion animal, please consider going to a shelter or rescue!

The Bitter Sweet of Fostering

Kibbles in the lap of his new dad

Kibbles in the lap of his new dad

This weekend my beloved Kibbles got adopted by a wonderful man and his girlfriend.  He called her his partner…they are of the age where boyfriend and girlfriend seem a little ridiculous.  He’s retired but very active.  He’s planning on taking Kibbles on many adventures and making him into a boat dog.  We’ve already heard from them as to how much they are in love with Kibbles.

I’m sad to have to give up my co-pilot.  Kibbles went with me on a lot of my client visits.  We had him for about two months and helped him learn to let go a lot of the adolescent bad behavior.  He is so quick to learn and I hope his new family continues to work on his training.  I think he could easily be a therapy dog.  He has never met a dog or human that he hasn’t loved.  We were also working on agility and he is a natural…although the jumps throw him a bit.  He doesn’t realize that he can jump!

He does however realize that he can chew and new dad Donny bought Kibbie a nice Antler for when they get home to the new house. Kibbie, however, could not wait that long so he took it out of the bag, laid down in the store and chomped on it while Dad made his new tag.
Everyday I would ask Andy if we could keep Kibbles and everyday he would give me a pained look and roll his eyes.  I had a connection with Kibbs for sure that I haven’t had with my other fosters and that was clouding my emotions and causing me to lose a little focus on why I am fostering.

With Kibbles safely and happily adopted into a new family I can offer a foster spot to another pup and save another life.  I’ve had a few people ask me how I can give them away once they’ve been integrated into my family.  I won’t lie, some are tougher then others to let go but I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize — saving more adoptable dogs!

October is Adopt-A-Dog Month.  If you are thinking about bringing a furry friend into your family, please consider adopting from your local shelter or rescue.  Only around 30% of companion pets are adopted — that leaves a lot of lives in shelters, rescues and foster homes like mine.  We can only save so many.

Is That Dog Depressed?

Nothing is as good as...

Nothing is as good as…


a roll in the grass!

Kibbles did not get adopted this weekend.  He went to two adoptions. When I picked him up on Sunday I sensed that he was feeling depressed and dejected.  Although Kibbles is always a favorite of the volunteers and spends more time outside of a crate then in, he was oddly subdued for the ride home.

In the training world, we are always told not to anthropomorphize our dogs.  That’s a fancy word for making them have human traits but more studies are showing that dogs have emotions and can read emotions in their humans.  In a recent article on the National Geographic website published on August 8, 2013, a new study shows that dogs yawn more in response to their owners’ yawns then they do to strangers’ yawns.  This suggests that the dogs are “emotionally connected” to their humans.

Well we didn’t need some scientific study to tell us that, right?  When I am sick or feeling down, I know my dogs sense this.  I get extra cuddles and even the high-strung Bailey knows that I can’t deal with her shenanigans.  But, do you think dogs feel emotions all on their own?

Of course they do!  As we get to know our dogs, whether they are permanent parts of the family of foster members of the family, we start to see their moods and their emotions.  How they feel guides how they react in a situation.  I knew that Kibbles was not feeling like his usual fun-loving self when I picked him up until he ran to our front door and was greeted by his foster sisters who welcomed him home.

Kibbles almost immediately perked up. He ran around smelling everyone and them smelling him. We went outside in our backyard and he chased the big girls around.  My heart swelled and I was grateful he didn’t get adopted.  I wanted more time with this baby.

My heart says the right place for Kibbles is at the Litt Palace of Puppy Love but that would make dog number five as a permanent resident.  My brain says that if I adopt him, there goes my ability to foster. Although I probably could still foster but I think my husband would divorce me.  My friend, Eileen, also a volunteer at Mostly Mutts and previous foster mom for Kibbles, thinks he belongs at our house.

So, was Kibbles sad about the adoption events or was he sad that he wasn’t with us this weekend?  I like to think it is a little of both.