The Mar Vista Day of Service adoption event went off pretty well. We even had some brand spanking new volunteers who wanted to help out. Plus, a friend of the WLA Shelter had a birthday party at the event and lots of attendees who wanted to hang with the dogs as well. This event was a great experience for the dogs, as they were handled by lots of new people in a new venue so this was a very "stressful" day even though it was lots of fun.
You also learn so much about a dog based on their behavior at these events. For example, dogs display stress in different ways so one must temper any judgments made based on this fact. Some dogs act very hyper and others seem to shut down. A calm dog could be jumpier than normal and even lash out at a person or dog he already knows. I feel that all behavior needs to be taken into consideration regarding the dog's temperament, but obviously, most dogs aren't usually exposed to super stressful situations all the time. So a dog who is testy at an event may be a completely chill dog in a normal situation. However, what you do learn is HOW the dog handles stressful situations, and you get a clue as to how long the dog's fuse is to some degree.
People who handle dogs at adoption events should educate themselves on dog behavior. All too often I see people just holding a leash with no attention given to the dog they are holding. Even worse, they may be chatting on the phone! Meanwhile, the dog is getting too close to other people and other dogs without knowing how this dog may react. Some dogs could be leash aggressive or just stressed by the event and close proximity to dogs and people. Plus, the handler is missing out on the opportunity to learn more about the dog who they hope will be adopted that day.
We are so lucky at West LA because we have amazing volunteers who have made the effort to learn about dog behavior and also know the WLA dogs at these events. There are tons of great sites on dog behavior and training on the Internet so there is no reason that a volunteer who is about to participate in an adoption event can't start to read up on dog behavior and how to handle a dog safely. I mean, seriously, we can't expect to get training through the shelter although, the dog walking class that is given at the shelter does give some of this information.
There are also tons of great books that can be purchased through www.dogwise.com that discuss dog behavior. One of my personal favs is The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. She gives fantastic insight into dog behavior and training, plus it's a fun read. One book does not an expert make, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Wouldn't it be great if all the nice volunteer dog handlers who have their hearts in the right place could actually talk to people about the dog they are handling at an adoption event in a way that could assist someone in making a good decision about adopting a dog!
Anyway, that's my opinion...
As for adoptions this weekend:
- Pearl (a friend's dog) got adopted by a nice family
- Tony, my little Chi friend, was adopted
- Baily Rae went to rescue
- Shane went to the same rescue
- Boo was adopted (again)
- Shawnee was adopted (good fit!)