Countless animals walk through the doors at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter every year. Some are adopted very quickly while others spend months waiting for their forever home. Now the shelter is hoping that a special training program will get more people to come out and adopt some of those pets.
Oftentimes dogs that are in the shelter know basic commands like "sit" and "stay". But volunteers are hoping that teaching the dogs a new skill will get them a new home. Dogs like Lady.
With her striking pattern and happy demeanor it's hard to understand why Lady has one of the longest stays at the shelter.
Community Programs Coordinator with the shelter, Misty Valenta, says, “(Lady’s) been here for over 500 days and she still hasn't given up. She still has that spirit of hope.”
Recently Lady has been training to use one of her natural talents: her sense of smell.
“You attract them to the game by setting out a bunch of boxes with treats and they have to find the scent of the treat and they are immediately rewarded by eating the treat,” Valenta says.
It's all part of K9 Nose Work. Dogs are trained to find special scents, much like police canines. But it's more of a sport for these pups.
A certified trainer has been working with several dogs at the shelter. Lady just seems to have a knack for it.
Valenta says, “This gave her a structure to get out of the kennel, to release her stress, to have fun and to be a dog, to use her sense of smell and to be rewarded for it.”
Training varies from dog to dog. But after their certification, dogs and their owners can continue to get even more competitive in the sport.
Aside from keeping them active, K9 Nose Work helps these shelter dogs build relationships.
“Because we do everything that is reward-based to build relationships they learn that humans are good, and that's what we all want. That's what people want, that's who they want to bring into their home. Dogs who are going to be affectionate,” Valenta says.
And almost a year and a half into her stay at the shelter, there’s hope that Lady's newfound talent will find her a new family.
“Not only are we giving her an awesome skill that he can use and compete in, we are giving her the skill of finding a good home,” Valenta says.
The trainer who worked with Lady is planning on having classes to certify trainers in K9 Nose Work.
For Leap Day, February 29, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter will be having a special adoption price of $2.90.
For more info you can head to their website.