Rambunctious is an understatement when it comes to a six-month-old border collie puppy. Trying to get that same pup to rest and relax while healing a fractured paw would seem like an impossible task, but not to Jessica Marchant and Erin Kruckenberg, the Canine Behavior Team at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS). Every year, they enroll over 200 dogs in the Behavior Modification Program that helps dogs become better adoption candidates through positive-reinforcement training.
Jessica and Erin first met border collie puppy Luke after he had been surrendered at a local animal hospital with four fractures in his front paw. He had been stepped on by a horse, and his owners could not afford the cost of care. Animal-hospital staff decided to bring this otherwise healthy puppy to DCHS, where he could get a second chance with a new family.
The Animal Medical Services team at DCHS determined that Luke would need a splint on his leg, with weekly bandage changes over the next couple months, in order to heal the fractures. Plus, he would need to stay calm enough to not reinjure the paw.
Luke proved too rowdy for a foster home, so for one month, he lived in the office of the Canine Behavior Team. Jessica and Erin worked day in and out teaching Luke behavioral skills, like how to drop an object when asked and how to resist getting mouthy when receiving attention. They also introduced Luke to puzzle toys, providing hours of learning games with delicious food rewards.
The hard work and dedication of the Canine Behavior Team was paying off. Not only was Luke starting to heal, he was also becoming a well-mannered puppy. Jessica was surprised by his progress one day when, after being naughty, she told Luke he needed a timeout and he immediately walked to his crate and laid down.
After two months of splint changes and daily positive training, Luke was ready to be adopted. It only took four days before Luke found a loving family ready for both the joy and challenge of an intelligent and energetic pup. Luke now goes by Wisco, and his new family reports that he is an amazing pup and has made their family complete.
For dogs like Wisco and so many others, the Canine Behavior Team not only helps them become better adoption candidates, they are paving the way for these pets to become beloved family members and best friends.
Programs like the canine Behavior Modification Program are helping DCHS along its journey to become a national model of animal sheltering and community outreach. Over 8,000 companion animals, exotic species, farm animals, and orphaned and injured wildlife find refuge, healing, and new beginnings at DCHS every year. Dane County’s people and animals deserve a humane society that reflects our world-class region. Community support of the Country’s Leader in Animal Welfare (CLAW) Fund allows DCHS the flexibility to apply generous gifts for daily shelter and community outreach operations and help us meet unplanned, unmet, and unanticipated needs. Learn more about DCHS and the CLAW Fund at giveshelter.org .
Marissa DeGroot is the public relations coordinator at Dane County Humane Society.