Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A surprising resource for an old dog rescuer

I recently attempted to apply for a Petfinder Foundation grant to repair our sadly dilapidated dog play yard. Reunion Rescue fits the requirements to a T. 

"This grant program is part of our commitment to enhancing shelter dogs’ quality of life by allowing them to engage in natural social behaviors. Play Yard Renovation Grant are available to active Petfinder members that have completed a play-group training seminar. Grant funds must be used to construct or improve play yards to bring them into compliance with current safety recommendations."

One of the specifications was to complete two Maddie's University courses. The first course Canine Body Language in the Shelter focuses on understanding how dogs communicate what they are experiencing. The course includes a video followed by interactive materials to reinforce the learning. I immediately liked the instructor Sara L. Bennett, DVM. She was calm, spoke clearly and was very easy to listen to. Unlike many 'dog professionals' she didn't come off with a didactic 'leader of the pack' attitude. It was surprisingly refreshing and her approach compelled you to come to the class with a desire to learn what she had to impart.

Without giving away the whole class, she covered body language and signs of arousal. Despite all of the dog training classes I've attended and tons of speeches, many highlighted in my book Pit Bull Nation: Special Edition, I found Dr. Bennett's class to be informative and enlightening. I have used her teachings already in my dealings with the dogs here at Reunion Rescue refuge. It is fun to observe the dogs in your care and ask yourself what are they thinking? What does that wrinkle mean on the forehead? What does the growl mean? It's not always aggression. It gave me a deeper dive into the goings on with the dogs in my care. The class is designed toward shelters, but I feel any pet owner will benefit from this resource-packed session.

The classes offered at Maddie's University are free to the public.