Sunday, November 2, 2008

Enrichment for the animals

Animals are not picky about their play toys. In some ways they are like toddlers. I remember when my son was very young he loved to sit on the floor and with a wooden spoon, bang on old pots and pans. He was perfectly happy and it would keep him entertained for hours.
Shelter dogs are not picky either. Some love soft, fleecy toys whether someone donated them new, or they had belonged to another dog at one time. Others love anything with a squeeker and will destroy a toy just to retrieve the squeeker from the middle. Jack Russell terriers love to do this.
We have a volunteer who donates cocoanuts. The big dogs use these to play with and then shred. The husks act as dental floss and will not harm an animal's digestive system, but instead acts as fiber. Some dogs ignore them, some rip them to shreds and some are even strong enough to crack the inside and drink the milk.
One of the best toys in the past few years are Kongs. Kongs are made of nearly indestructible hard rubber and can be stuffed with treats which the dogs then need to work at getting out of the inside. This mentally stimulates dogs and gives them a job. When dogs spend the majority of their time in a kennel, they need this mental stimulation.
Right now, the HSSC is running short on Kongs. We simply do not have enough for all the dogs. We stuff them, freeze them, and they will keep our dogs working for 2 or 3 hours. If you have any Kongs laying around your house that your dog is not using, or would simply like to buy one and donate it to the HSSC, the dogs would appreciate it. We need all sizes, from small to extra large. You can drop off the Kongs, or any other toys for the animals at 2331 15th Street in Sarasota or call 955-4131 to see what other enrichment toys they may need. Thank you from me and all the animals.

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