Doris was a shy, sweet Cocker mix who’d gotten loose from her home one morning. By the time she was picked up by Animal Control in the afternoon, the dog was so scared and disoriented that she bit the officer on the hand when he reached for her collar. Doris’s family was hoping to claim her that day, but because of the bite, by law she had to spend ten days in quarantine at the county shelter.
Under normal circumstances, Doris loved the touch of humans, and this sort of isolation was particularly hard on her. Fortunately, she also loved to eat, so to ease the boredom, we taught her the game “find-it.” She caught on quickly, and her little nubby tail would start to wag at the first rustling of the treat-filled baggie. The quarantine kennel was typically small, so any exercise — even just racing from the front to the back in pursuit of the tossed kibble — was welcome activity.
We knew from talking with her family that Doris also adored belly rubs, but the benign wooden back-scratcher was a tougher sell. At first, she didn’t want it anywhere near her, unless there was a bit of hot dog involved. It was several days before she grasped that this was the key to tummy tickles; when she finally understood, she’d roll on her side invitingly and sigh as we “pet” her through the openings in the kennel gate.
Doris may not have had the best ten days of her life at the shelter, but at least she knew during her stay that she wasn’t forgotten. There were enough play sessions and bouts of mental and physical stimulation to ensure that Doris didn’t go crazy. Her human mom was relieved to see that Doris was essentially the same dog who’d gotten lost the week before. “I was afraid she’d think she’d been abandoned,” Doris’s mom told us. Nah, we wouldn’t let that happen!
Contributed by Leslie Smith, GADAB Enrichment Consultant, from a shelter
in New Mexico