It starts with a picture on FaceBook. A neglected dog, desperate for medical care, starving, weak, this dog is just begging for help. You’ll see hundreds of people rallying their support, begging for rescue, pledging funds- it makes the rescue feel pretty confident they can swoop in and be a savior due to all the support. It takes a village, there’s no doubt about that.
But what happens when the dog is taken to the safety of a rescue? The campaign is over, the dog is safe, we can all return to our regularly scheduled lives, right? Well, yes, you can. But for those in rescue, there is no regularly scheduled life. Rescue IS our life. When the FaceBook post reads “Update! SAFE!” that’s where it ends for those in FaceBook land. And where it begins for those in Rescue.
So what really happens after a dog is taken to rescue?
Rescue is so much more than just keeping a dog fed until their adopter comes along! The majority of the dogs we see here at GK9 have never even been inside of a home, much less on a leash.
We feel very strongly how important it is to provide leadership, structure and enrichment to all of the dogs waiting in the wings at rescue. Often you’ll find me in some of our local pet friendly businesses working with our rescues!
Our goal is to not only get these dogs healthy physically, but mentally as well. It’s important for dogs to understand leadership and have structure not only in the kennel, but in the real world. When you have a dog who’s been left to make all of their own decisions, they tend to make the wrong decisions! We learn to walk nicely on a leash, sit – not jump – and how to be calm when we’re out and about. Learning to take instruction and to just BE in a busy environment creates a well balanced dog, and a well balanced dog quickly becomes a more adoptable dog.
So let’s talk about down time. It’s impossible for every dog to train for hours a day, so what do we do to provide enrichment when we’re not there to provide structure? I think one of my favorite things to give our dogs are puzzle feeders. That’s right, why not work for your meal? A busy ball, a Kong Wobbler, these make great enrichment tools. We want to keep their brain spinning in a healthy manner, not chewing on the walls and being destructive….
Now it’s not all boot camp here! We like to have FUN too! And having fun can be a teaching moment just as much as actual obedience. Fetching a ball, learning to track a frisbee, there’s a lot more than just sit, down, stay – there’s got to be PLAY! Play is also a structured exercise, I want the dog to sit patiently before I throw the ball, not jump all over me like an acrobat! Manners are always important!
Our goal is to create an environment where every dog has the opportunity to thrive both mentally and physically. It doesn’t end when the Vet gives us a clean bill of health, that’s where it begins. Our goal is not only rescue, but to create balance, stability, respect- and equip these pups with the knowledge and good habits that every adopter is looking for in their new best friend. A balanced dog is a happy dog!