Interview with Seattle Humane Society

Hello, friends! I recently had a wonderful conversation with Amanda who works on the Marketing and Media program for the Seattle Humane Society (SHS). She was kind enough to share some time with me while I queried her on SHS’s view on adoption topics.

All of the dog photos in this entry are dogs currently available for adoption through the Seattle Humane Society.

Lily (below) is a 2-year old pit-bull mix:

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Fido: What are some things that people should consider before adopting a dog?

Amanda: That’s a great question. People should think about what kind of pet is best for their lifestyle. For example, if you want a bigger dog, you’ll need to ensure that you can provide enough space for the dog. Another consideration is cost. We often forget how quickly vet bills can add up. Also, depending on the size and breed of the animal, pet food can become expensive. If you’re planning to have kids or already have children in the home, consider whether or not the animal is appropriate and safe around kids. For example, an overly exuberant dog may accidentally knock down small children. Finally, if there are already pets in the home, consider how all of the animals will get along.

Fido:  Why should someone adopt a dog instead of purchasing one through a pet store or breeder?

Amanda:  There are a lot of abandoned and homeless pets. Adopting reduces pet overpopulation. It is critical that people spay/neuter their pets to help reduce the overpopulation, which in turn helps decrease the number of animals in shelters. It is a sad fact that occasionally people buy a dog from a breeder and then find out that they can’t support the pet and end up surrendering it to the shelter.

Guiness (below) is a 6-year old purebred lab:

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Fido: Why is obedience training so important for dogs?

Amanda: Obedience training is really important because you need to learn basic commands to help alleviate conflicts in the home later. A well-mannered dog is more likely to have a successful and lasting relationship with its people. It’s also important to socialize dogs at a young age so that they don’t become fearful or aggressive later in life.

If you have a dog that hasn’t had experience around other dogs, it’s important to do introductions in an environment that is well-controlled. Do not take an unsocialized dog to the dog park.

Fido: What is something that you wish more people were aware of?

Amanda: We often have puppies in the shelter. Also, senior pets can make great companions. People have misconceptions about senior pets including that many pets up for adoption are damanged, but many of these pets come from loving homes that are not able to keep them for one reason or another.

Sophia (below) is a 10-year old retriever/lab mix:

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Fido: What is Seattle Humane Society most in need of?

Amanda: Volunteer work is extremely important. If you’re interested in volunteering, go to our website and follow the links to apply to volunteer and select the type of volunteer work that you would like to provide. Seattle Humane Society is an independent donor-funded non-profit, which means that we function solely on donations from supporters. Donations can be made either through our website or via our Amazon.com wish list.

Fido: To learn more about the Seattle Humane Society and adoptable dogs, volunteer work, and donations, visit their website at: http://www.seattlehumane.org/

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The Road to Homeless

When people meet me and see how cute and sweet I am, they always ask my Forever Family – “how on earth could Fido have ever been abandoned?” And my Forever Family scratches their heads, and says “We don’t know, but we sure are lucky that he was so that he could join our family.” The sad thing is, most people don’t plan to abandon their dogs. But sooner or later, for some dogs, that’s exactly what happens. Some of the most common reasons for dogs being abandoned or surrendered include:

  • Life changes – getting married, having children, getting divorced, and relocating are all life changes that have resulted in dogs being left behind.
  • Budgetary concerns – even “free” puppies cost money. In addition to food, there are vet bills, license fees, and other necessities. Before you bring a dog home, consider what your budget it and what it can accommodate.
  • Behavior problems – we dogs are social creatures with a brain. Yes, we sleep a lot. But we also need plenty of regular exercise, mental stimulation like puzzles, socialization, and boundaries. Nobody is perfect (not even people, or so I’ve been told). But in their hearts, dogs are pack animals and want to have a pack leader (you) show them the way and help them have a happy and healthy life.

Before you adopt a dog (and I sure do hope that you will!), consider carefully how to provide for the dog. Your adopted dog will love you for life. Will you love him or her for life?

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Be Super Cool – adopt a dog

Accurate depiction of how your adopted dog views you. Thank you for sharing the perspective, LA Animal Services!

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Dog Park Protocol

I L-O-V-E the dog park! Mostly, I love to sniff everything. But it’s also fun to play “tag” with other dogs and take turns chasing and being chased. Here’s me at a recent outing to the park. I’m a real sprinter, so it only takes a couple full-speed laps and I’m done for the day.

 

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This topic brings out a passion in people that sometimes surprises me. Dog parks are supposed to be fun places that I can run around with other dogs. And yet, that’s not always the case. My people tell me that it’s important to know what to expect at the dog park and to make an assessment before entering the dog park each time. 

From my perspective, there’s a few things that people should consider before taking their dog to the park:

1) Is your dog well-socialized? Let’s face it, every person has differing social levels. So why should it surprise people that not all dogs are social extroverts? And yet, people continue to bring rude, unsociable dogs to the park. This is not fun and can be dangerous for all of the dogs.

2) Is your dog healthy? Again, when people have a cold or other contagious illness, they tend to stay home so as to not get other people sick. The same rule applies to dogs. If your dog is sick or has an infection (i.e. ear mites), stay home.

3) Be attentive. Yes, dog parks are usually fenced. But that’s no excuse to not watch your dog. People don’t let their small children play in a park unsupervised. Paying attention to your dog at the park helps you know where your dog is and helps you see if there is trouble brewing (i.e. with an unsocial dog). 

Bottom line, trust your instincts. If you’re not comfortable with the situation, likely neither is your dog. 

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Fostering Saves Lives

Interested in helping dogs that are still looking for their Forever Homes? Consider fostering a dog (or several =)

People often think that fostering dogs is difficult, but when they try it, they quickly become addicted. 

Everyone benefits from fostering:

  • The shelters gain kennel space to house the never ending arrival of abandoned dogs
  • The foster dog gets a much-needed break from kennel life, which is stressful for most dogs
  • The foster family is able to provide potential adopters with a more detailed description of the dog’s characteristics and behaviors
  • The adopting family goes home with a dog that is already adjusted to living with a family

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The two biggest concerns that I’ve heard for why people don’t want to foster dogs are:

1) Fostering a dog is hard work. But if you already have a dog at home, fostering a dog doesn’t add any extra effort because you’re already taking care of a dog. A side benefit of fostering for your own dog is that your dog will stay dog-social. 

2) It will be hard to let the foster dog go to the adopted family. Most foster parents say this is offset by the knowledge of how the newly adopted dog has completed the family and brought them happiness.

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Fostering is a great way to give back to animals in need. If you’re interested in fostering, please consider contacting your local shelter or rescue agencies.

 

 

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Adopting an Adult or Senior dog

If you’re thinking about bringing a canine friend home, why not consider an adult or senior dog? I was lucky that my Forever Home was specifically looking for an adult dog and there are lots of reasons that you should too.

You know what you’re getting with an adult dog. No surprises on size, train-ability  personality traits. Adult dogs have developed their sense of self.

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Ruth is available for adoption in the Seattle area through Forgotten Dog’s Rescue: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/21490370

Adult dogs are highly trainable – and many come home having already learned obedience basics like sit, down, and walking politely on a leash – not to mention many are already housebroken and crate trained. Do you really want to clean-up puppy messes?

Because they’ve already matured, it takes less time for adult dogs to settle into their new surroundings and they’re more likely to be content to sit with you on the couch and watch TV whereas puppies tend to be very active.

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Gertrude is available in the Langley, BC area through Patti Dale Animal Shelter: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/24790669

Once you’ve decided that you want to adopt an adult dog, carefully consider the characteristics that you want in your dog. As you meet adoptable dogs, don’t feel compelled to bring the first dog you meet home. Wait and find one that is a match for your requirements and lifestyle. 

When you bring a dog home, enroll in obedience classes. It’s a great bonding opportunity for you and your new family member. Also, it helps set the stage for your relationship and educates both of you on how to communicate together and what your expectations are of the dog. 

There are so many wonderful adult dogs waiting to find their Forever Homes. Thank you for considering saving one of their lives by sharing your home with them.

For more information, visit the ASPCA’s website: http://www.aspca.org/adoption/adoption-tips/reasons-to-adopt-an-older-dog.aspx

 

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Interview with Bullseye Dog Rescue

It was great fun to talk with Lorrie Kalmbach-Ehlers, one of the co-founders of Bullseye Dog Rescue. Bullseye is a Seattle-area rescue that emphasizes education in addition to providing rescue support.

FromFido: What inspired you to co-found Bullseye Dog Rescue?

Lorrie: I started thinking about starting my own rescue while I was working in a shelter and realized how many pit bulls were coming through the shelter and the misconceptions about the breed. Since our founding, Bullseye’s focus has been on education, although we also do rescue as well. We educate shelters about how to rescue the breed, properly identify pit bulls, and find the right homes. We also help educate owners on things like dealing with neighbors and finding friendly living situations. And we mentor other rescues as well by helping them understand how to rehome pit bulls, what is normal for the temperament, things like that.

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From Fido: Why should people consider adopting a pit bull?

Lorrie: Pit bulls are an all-around great match for so many different people. Pit bulls are extremely smart, which also makes them very trainable. They make great sports dogs. Their short hair means that they don’t require a lot of grooming maintenance. Overall, pit bulls are very healthy dogs because they haven’t been overbred like other breeds. They make great family dogs and are amazing with children. We place 8 out of 10 dogs into homes with kids.

FromFido: If you had to pick one trait, what would be your favorite pit bull trait and why?

Lorrie: They see every new person as their new best friend. It’s such an admirable quality and makes life easier for pit bull owners. And the pit bull smile  just warms my heart.

FromFido: What is something surprising or unexpected about sharing a home with a pit bull (or several)?

Lorrie: A lot of people would not guess how dog-social they can be. A lot of people assume that pit bulls have to be only-dogs. But that’s not true. Once you have more than two dogs, you have a pack, and there’s different requirements. Pit bulls tend to be very dog social and love to play. They get along with a lot of other animals and are even great on farms.

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FromFido: What was the impetus for Pit Bulls on Parade? How do you feel its impact has been on local perception about pit bulls?

Lorrie: We started the Parade because there were so many events focused on shelters. We wanted to start an event all about pit bulls and create a positive environment for people to come and bring their pit bulls. Last year, we had about 200 dogs and 500 people. It’s also a great opportunity for local rescues to come and find people that are pit bull friendly and likely looking to adopt another pit bull. There’s also an emphasis on dog sports – we’d like to see more pit bulls in agility and weight pull events. We also offer Canine Good Citizen testing because the more dogs are certified, it helps owners and the breed reputation. Every year we do the certifications, there are more dogs testing than what we predicted – it’s a great “problem” to have!

Mark your calendars now for the 2013 Pit Bulls on Parade on August 24th. Visit Bullseye Dog Rescue’s web site for more details.

FromFido: Any parting thoughts?

Lorrie: People should not be afraid to go to the local shelter and look at the dogs there. There’s an assumption that it will be hard and the dogs have issues. But we work with so many of the shelters that the programs have been developed. Don’t look past the shelters.

Try for the Canine Good Citizen! Don’t worry about not passing, just go out and try it. People are surprised at how many of their dogs pass with flying colors. Come out to Pit Bulls on Parade and give it a try!

For more information about Bullseye, visit their website at: http://www.bullseyerescue.org/default.htm

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