Friday, December 7, 2012

Molly sees a trainer

You might know that Claire is an avid fan of Dogtown, a TV show about how an animal sanctuary in Utah rehabilitates their dogs and finds them forever homes.  One of the dog trainers on the show is Pat Whitacre who works at Pets Alive, an animal sanctuary in Middletown, New York.   Claire  had emailed him a few weeks back and set up a meeting so she could learn how to assess dog behavior (from the best!) and have Molly (her recent Pitbull rescue) tested to make sure she was safe to put with a foster family with children.

Claire was buzzing with excitement on the way there as she often dreams of visiting animal sanctuaries and she was excited to get ideas for her own project.

Pat explained in detail his philosophy about assessing dogs.   For our purposes he was testing to see how Molly would likely react to strangers doing typical human activities around her. He wanted to find out if Molly was food aggressive or could handle her mouth being opened, hugged or put in a crate. Reactions generally range from wanting the trainer to repeat the action to being submissive or growling to an attack.  Molly showed no aggression whatsoever with her responses ranging from friendly to a little shy.  Pat thought she was a very sweet dog that showed no signs of being a danger to a family with children.  It was a great learning experience.  I filmed a little and Pat told us some wonderful stories.

This sanctuary has up to 200 cats at a time!  They live in a house with has furniture, carpeted rests and pillow beds everywhere.  The cats looked so peaceful and happy.  I have never seen so many cats in one spot.  It was extraordinary.  I am used to seeing cats in metal cages in animal control facilities but this place seemed like cat paradise.  Almost like a retirement home for cats.  It didn't smell and it was quiet and calm.  We took Molly in there to see how she would react to cats.

Pets Alive has a different set up for their dog runs than Dogtown.  Claire could have spent hours there.  She already has a pretty fixed idea of the facility she eventually wants to set up but it was wonderful to see how it was done here.

And I couldn't resist taking a picture of the bus!

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