Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Last week I had the good fortune to participate in a one week internship at Animal Farm Foundation. There were nine of us in this session; women from Massachusetts, New York City, and Albany. We heard lectures ranging from kennel enrichment to nutrition to adoptions and marketing and everything in between. We had hands on clicker training workshops and dog play groups. Each intern was also assigned a project dog to work with everyday. I got to work with Camo who is an advanced trick learner and we worked on "Spin" and walking under and through my legs. I wanted to eventually work up to "Zig Zag" which is where you have the dog walk through your legs back and forth while you walk so I might take some time on Thursdays after training class to do that. We also worked on his "Stay" while I circled him. Dogs don't normally like to stay in place when they can't see you. He did well and by the end of the week I could have him "Down Stay" while I walked all the way around him four times. What a good boy.
A highlight of the week for me was the Frisbee/disc demo that Nadja and Thelma did for us. What a treat. They did it in the horse riding arena so the ground was a lot softer than what Thelma is used to working on but she did great anyway. Take a look.
One of the hotly discussed subjects during the week was what and how to call what we normally refer to as Pit Bulls. Most dogs called Pit Bulls aren't even genetically of the breeds regularly known as Pit Bulls like the American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier so even with the best of intentions are we doing the dogs a disservice by labeling them by their looks? Or should we be promoting exceptional dogs as Breed Ambassadors to promote a better picture of what the public think of Pit Bulls? Should we call dogs of unknown ancestry "American Shelter Dogs"? It's something that I'm still trying to get my head around since I have been a "Pit Bull Aficionado" for so long. One of the studies we discussed is partially online. "Visual vs. DNA Identification of Dogs"
You can also scroll down and look at "Can you find the Pit Bull"
For a few days after the internship I seriously thought about immediately changing careers but I am now thinking that I should take the opportunity while I have the influence, to use my job to promote as widely as possible, things I learned during the week as well as general animal welfare issues. I decided it would be a shame to squander the audience I have already, especially in Japan where it is so incredibly backwards. Did anyone else see the CBS Sunday Morning clip about pets in Japan and the rent a doggie store??? So messed up.... Anyone with $25 can rent a dog for an hour.
There is lots of work to do.