MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Problem Dog or Dog Needing a Purpose?

Maddie right after we adopted her
Hordes of animals wait in shelters every day for their human to find them and give them  companionship and a forever home. However, according to Amanda Hanson, founder of Shelter Dogs with Jobs, sometimes it is the prospect of a purpose and a job that provides a happy ending for certain homeless dogs. Especially those dogs labeled "problem dogs" by their owners and left at a shelter because they do not know how to handle them.  Perhaps they are too high energy, or their energy is directed in a destructive manner. With proper training, structure and "employment", these once homeless (and probably quite intelligent and easily bored) dogs may shine.

Our constant fetcher in her prime
 I suspect our 11-year-old lab/lab mix, Maddie, was just such an owner surrender in a shelter  in Denver when she came to be ours at the age of 10 months. Extremely high energy with a fetching instinct that wouldn't quit, she was dogs with jobs, dogs with the purpose, problem dogspolice dogs, seizure alert dogthe kind of dog that if you did not show her a good time and give her the mental stimulation she needed she would find it her own way. In retrospect, she probably would've been a great search and rescue dog.  Perhaps a good police dog.  Instead, she has  brought smiles to many as a therapy dog and just in her day-to-day life with the people whose paths cross hers as she goes about her day with us.

Read more about Hanson as a dog trainer and rescuer in the Care 2 blog, Could Giving Animals Jobs Instead of Homes Solve the Stray Problem? and the organization she started with two others, Mo Eppley and Sabrina Zitzelberger. From being an emotional support animal to alerting their family to seizures to doing police work, dogs with certain character traits from being very calm or highly focused to playing fetch incessantly will provide the clues to the kind of match they need in their jobs.