One of my roles at work is managing the Enrichment Program. If you aren’t familiar with such programs, the goal is to stimulate the mind, body, nose, ears and eyes of the dogs and cats in our care. In short, I get to play with puppies and kittens and dogs and cats for at least part of the day every day. Not bad work if you can get it. The program consists of many different initiatives; food puzzles, calming music, soothing aromatherapeutic essential oils, daily toy rotation and other structured activities. Today, I organized a play group, specifically, a deaf dog play group.
The group included one current Humane Society of Greater Miami deaf dog, Gideon (yes, he is available for adoption!), and two former shelter dogs who have been adopted (by me), Edison and Foster. For an hour, the three deafies got to run, bite each other’s ankles and ears, roll in dirt, sniff grass, play chase and lick each other’s faces.
Play groups are so very important for shelter dogs, especially the bully breeds. Bully breed dogs are very social and, unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the shelter system often deprives them of sufficient social interaction to keep them mentally and emotionally sound. If you are familiar with Boxers, the pit bull breeds, Dogos and mastiffs, you will know how important human and canine interaction is to these dogs. They crave it, they need it and without it, they go bonkers.
I love organizing play groups. Spending time with dogs just being dogs with other dogs is a respite in an otherwise chaotic day . During that hour, they are happy, they are fulfilled, they are peace in the world and their joy is infectious. By four o’clock, Gideon, Edison, Foster and I were all filthy, happy and ready for a nap.