Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Off to School They Go!

On lazy Sunday mornings, when you and I snuggle deeper into our covers trying to catch that one more wink of sleep or as we flip open the Sunday papers while enjoying a late breakfast, some of the residents of Gentle Paws have long been up and about prepping themselves for school.

Yes, you heard us right! For the past three Sundays, a group of selected furkids has been attending school - or obedience classes - led by certified trainer Jazz (below with her dog) who has very kindly and generously volunteered her time to the shelter. Through these classes (up to 8 of them are planned), we hope that the furkids would be equipped with the basic skills that would make them better house pets and companions. This is part and parcel of the build up to our year end adoption drive during which we hope to be able to successfully rehome at least one or more of our dogs.

Because of limited resources, "school" for our furkids is really a quiet area of the car park leading to the shelter. This venue is needed as a neutral ground for the dogs to concentrate and learn, instead of feeling territorial and aggressive. Some of the furkids have never been taught basic commands. Being in a shelter, this was never felt to be necessary. More often than not, us humans would not be around to remind them of what they have learnt or to enforce the rules of the game. One certainly cannot blame them for not knowing these commands.

Seeing some of our furkids gradually respond to the clicker training was really heartening. Oh yes, we confess, we had to use lots of treats to entice them into doing as commanded. But seeing them slowly but surely internalising the commands and responding to them, it dawned upon us that our dogs are as smart, as sharp and as beautiful as dogs go. All we need is someone to give them a chance, to slow down, pause and take the time to see the beauty in them that is so easily overlooked.

It's not just us now. The furkids are working hard themselves, trying to earn the home that all of them deserve. Please root for them as they, together with Jazz and the other volunteers, work to create a better tomorrow for them!

For now, school's out. It's time to go!

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