It’s been about three months since Dogs Playing for Life visited Orphans of the Storm® and taught us how to implement play groups. In that time, we have held more than 70 play groups with 170+ unique dogs. When you count dogs who have participated multiple times, that means we have had a grand total of more than 1,500 dogs in play groups! We have learned so much about the dogs in these past few months, so I thought I’d share some highlights (particularly about long-timers).
Jack, Huckleberry, John Boy, and Elijah are four play group regulars. They love to play “rough and rowdy” with each other, all one big blur of fur and sixteen paws. Since they play with each other so often, they know exactly when it’s time to take a breather and do some exploring on their own before going back to playing. This play style can be a little much for some dogs, but other more adventurous ones are happy to join in!
Even though both John Boy and Elijah are labeled as needing to be the only dog in their future home, the two of them in particular are the best of friends. When they’ve tired each other out, they roll over on their backs next to each other and lounge, with happy doggy smiles on their faces. I have unofficially given them the “cutest couple” title.
There are some dogs who we knew had a history of not liking other dogs, but having more freedom in a yard can bring out different behavior than being on a leash. Dogs like Apollo and Barney have found a select number of doggy friends that they enjoy playing with!
Bo, Cheyenne (Shyanne), and YoYo (Yeyo) also enjoy the company of dogs much better when they’re in play group as opposed to being on leashed walks. Tom still doesn’t particularly like boy dogs, but he now has a long list of girlfriends. He’s been in play groups with five or more girl dogs at one time and has a blast.
Dogs like Alec(k), Delilah, Donny, Lucy, Mojo, and Quinn are developing their socialization skills. Delilah, Lucy, and Quinn like to play with some dogs sometimes. Alec really wants to be part of the Jack/Huckleberry/John Boy/Elijah group and is building up his courage, but mostly watches from the sidelines. Donny and Mojo often keep to themselves but will politely sniff hello if another dog comes by.
Although attending play group is a great sign that a dog gets along with other dogs, it still isn’t a guarantee that a particular dog could go to a home with another dog. Having a 30-minute play session is different than sharing your space, family, toys, and treats with someone 24/7! As always, we ask potential adopters to bring your current dog(s) to the shelter to meet the dog you’re considering adopting.
Play groups happen on pretty much a daily basis (weather-dependent) and can have 10 to 30 dogs cycled through in a 1.5-hour period. There can be anywhere from 2 to 12 dogs in the yard at a time. It’s a highlight of many dogs’ (and volunteers’) days!
The first play group I attended this week included Brutus, Cheyenne (Shyanne), Clyde the Heeler, Donny, Eastside, Elijah, Gia (Pippa), Huckleberry, Jack, John Boy, Lucy, Maggie, Romeo, Sasha, Whizzer, and YoYo (Yeyo), as well as the not-yet-profiled dogs Lucky, Pumpkin, and Roxy.
The second play group had Alec(k), Bo, Brutus, Delilah, Donny, Elijah, Gia (Pippa), Huckleberry, John Boy, Lucy, Maggie, Sasha, Whizzer, and YoYo (Yeyo), as well as not-yet-profiled dogs Birdie, Chief, Molly, Paulie, Polly, Pumpkin, Roxy, the other Roxy, Rufus, Spike, and Zandrea.