Tip of the Week: Hit the Books
After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana SPCA modified a reading-to-dogs program specially for the very frightened dogs entering the shelter after the storm. Staff identified dogs who had been behavior-evaluated and deemed nonaggressive, but who were also exhibiting fearful body language (hiding in the back of the run, not looking at people, etc). These dogs were selected for a two-week program that was coordinated by the staff and run by trained volunteers.
The dogs were moved to a quiet part of the shelter labeled “rehab tent,” and put on a daily schedule of being read to—three times a day for at least one hour. Volunteer readers sat at the dog’s level outside the front of the run and simply read aloud—anything they wanted to read, the book they were working on, People magazine, etc. They would take notes if the dog showed interest in them, solicited attention or began to come out of their shells. Based on benchmarks created by LA/SPCA on the improvement they hoped to see, the majority of dogs who went through the program got to the point where they could be put into adoptions. The program also worked great for the litters of feral puppies that were common after Katrina.
Could this program help you write some storybook endings at your agency? Already have something similar in place? Please share your experiences in the comment box.
See you here next Monday for more tips we’ve gleaned and seen that may make your life a little easier, make a routine process go a little faster or deliver some extra comfort for the animals in your care.