I always seem to encounter amazing people in the dog rescue community. Kim Clune and the rest of the pack over at Dog House Adoptions are a perfect example. What really caught my attention about this group is how well they integrated the entire community in their dog rescue efforts. I’m excited to introduce this dynamic team to you and hope that their vision will inspire you.
Regardless of how we’re involved with the dog rescue community, there are a multitude of ways that we can incorporate new ideas to raise awareness, increase adoptions and facilitate the process of dogs and people helping and healing each other.
Dog House Adoptions – A new breed of Dog Rescue
Q: Dog House Adoptions captured my heart at the “About” page. You’ve covered so many critical components of creating forever homes. You didn’t stop at rescuing; you took it several steps further by engaging and creating change at a community level. Can you share your long-term vision with us?
A: Our greatest goal is to celebrate the tremendous emotional value that a dog’s life has, no matter their mix of breeds or a lack of known history. We have spectacular dogs in our care, uniquely beautiful friends who would add immeasurable love to any family’s life through adoption, but why wait? And what if you aren’t in a position to adopt?
Our dogs have the ability to symbiotically serve a caring community who serves them in return. So, right now, we invite people of all walks of life to indulge in the healing power of dogs – from those who require occupational therapy that a little dog brushing or ball tossing can provide, to victims of domestic violence, those struggling withloss, or anybody who needs a little unconditional love. Meet our dogs. Walk them. Sit with them awhile. You’ll comfort them while they comfort you and that love gets paid forward at the time of their adoption.
To facilitate this best, I envision building a human dog house featuring all the comforts of home. A cozy living room complete with plush couches, fun paint colors, curtains, and art on the walls will make a great space for community members to spend time while facilitating training for dogs to stay off the furniture and not to chew. A kitchen and laundry room with all the usual appliances will acclimate the dogs to normal household operations and noises while helping to maintain the space. This environment would also allow prospective adopters to imagine their new best friend in their own home (a staging idea I borrow from my HGTV addiction). We believe this will encourage more dog adoptions and lessen return rates because each dog will have a great head start to being a good household member.
Q: I love your focus on education. Knowing that many local rescue groups
operate on very tight budgets; do you have any suggestions on how they might create similar programs or connections on a smaller scale?
A: We incorporated in April 2012 and are an extremely small rescue with very active board members. We operate on a shoestring budget – but nothing stops us from introducing ourselves to the community and inviting folks to come by. All it takes is one volunteer willing to offer their time and one community member willing to learn.
Marlene Wagner, a certified dog trainer, offered her time to teach about signs of stress in dogs and general dog safety at our first volunteer orientation. 15 people came. Many are now dog walkers and adoption clinic handlers. Marlene has offered our handlers and adoptable dogs free access to her Tails onTrails class to learn respectful, reward-based training suitable in any environment. We can’t wait for this to start! It costs us nothing, but the value to people and dogs is tremendous.
We also spoke with the Berkshire Farm where young adults are in need of positive experiences. A little dog encounter therapy could be the perfect means. We’re working on facilitating some terrific interaction with groups like this.
Another exciting adventure includes a local band called the Stray Dogs who play often in our county. Having never met, but finding them on Google, I asked them to write a theme song for us, which they did. It’s called “Pick Me” and they’ve played it at local venues inciting all kinds of fun conversations. Education doesn’t always have to come in the form a classroom!
The ideas are boundless once you start talking with people. By all means, engage everybody and use every talent they have!
Q: Dog House Adoptions is brand new with such ambitious goals. What made you decide to found this organization and would you recommend that others follow suit?
A: First, let me say that joining an established organization is far more ideal, as mentioned in Kyla Duffy’s guide, Road to Rescue – a resource we heavily rely upon. Help is always needed and resources are best spent directly on the animals rather than incorporation and other startup fees.
In our situation, towns had contracted with a local kennel to house the strays from Rensselaer County, NY and, at the end of a dog’s five day hold, surrounding rescues were often stretched too thin to help. The kennel owner cared for unclaimed dogs out of her own pocket while finding families to take them in. The need was very apparent.
Mike Arms, a man who inspired me during a talk onrevolutionizing rescue, offers a free, week-long ACES Workshop at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, CA . He teaches how to best to start and manage a new organization or improve upon one in existence. By all means, educate yourself before diving in, and get to this workshop if you can. We found it invaluable.
And, if you decide to move forward, enlist the help of good friends. Coming home wholly inspired, I shared what was learned with my husband, Tim Clune, and our friends, Lori Harris and Audra Bentley. Ultimately, this group became our hard working Board of Directors. Our friendship feeds our rescueand our rescue feeds our friendship – all in the name of helping people and dogs.
Thank you Kim and Dog House Adoptions for sharing your insight, we certainly enjoyed getting to know you! I hope everyone reading this will take a moment to visit the Dog House adoptions site online or locally.
Do you know of a dog rescue group taking a fresh approach to adoptions? Let me knowand they could be our next featured Rescue Group!