Monday, February 25, 2013

Rabbit on a Field Trip

HAWS adoptable Eleanor was kind enough to accompany me to Blair Elementary School in Waukesha for an after school program a few weeks ago.   The kids were really excited to meet Eleanor and learned a lot about rabbits as well. 

I started my visit talking about how fast rabbits can reproduce and the kids were amazed to find out that not only does HAWS take in a lot of rabbits, but that there are times we have more rabbits up for adoption than dogs or cats.   We talked about the fact that HAWS spays and neuters all of our rabbits before they go up for adoption, and how this helps prevent even more homeless rabbits from being born. 

Once Eleanor interacted with the kids they were amazed at how soft her fur was and how much she appeared to enjoy being petted.  Once they found out that as a prey animal rabbits are easily started by sudden movements and loud noises, the kids were very conscious of making sure they were quiet so that Eleanor was comfortable being with them. 

Some of the kids wanted to pick her up and were disappointed when I told them she needed to remain on the floor.  It made more sense to them as to why rabbits don't like to be picked up once I explained that the only reason a rabbit in the wild would be picked up is if an owl or coyote was going to carry them off for food. 
Eleanor had a really great outing that afternoon, and the kids learned a lot about rabbit behavior.  Now we just have to find a home so that Eleanor has a family of her own. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Humane Education Dogs

My dog Mystic has served as an outstanding education dog in my work at HAWS for the last 8 years.    Mystic started his career when he was only 9 weeks old, and I set out to create the perfect dog to help me in my work.  I knew I needed a dog who would be friendly and outgoing, tolerant of stressful situations and handling, confident in new environments and when meeting new people, and calm around children who's energy level might be an eleven on a scale of one to ten.  He's met literally thousands of children and adults through humane education programs and has been a great example of what a well trained and socialized dog can be.

Mystic is not retiring -- not by a long shot.  But recently I added another dog to my family and I'd like to add the new puppy to my education programs.  Quinn was adopted through Minnesota Border Collie Rescue almost two weeks ago.  They were a great organzation to work with.  I told them what my future puppy would be doing as a humane education dog, and what kind of temperment the puppy should have.  They found a puppy they thought would work, and so far, so good. 

I've started Quinn's education by socializing him to as many people as I possibly can.   Socialization is extremely important for puppies before they are 14-16 weeks of age, and the process should make socialization fun, not scary for the puppy.  Quinn's socialization includes having new people get down on the ground and giving him food.  The idea is that by teaching him that new people have treats he'll start to look forward to meeting new people. 

Here's video of Quinn meeting some kids at Waukesha's Blair Elementary School last week.  The kids are all being appropriate, feeding his food down low and with the treats in the palm of their hands so fingers don't go into his mouth, and he's having a great time meeting him.  I look forward to giving frequent updates on Quinn's progress.