By Candice G. Ball
Mark Twain once said “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
No one knows this better than Kelly Burkitt. Burkitt is the proud adopter of Parker (formerly known as Pardner). Parker, a German-Shepard cross, made headlines in local media in 2013 when he survived a gunshot to his head.
After the Swan Valley Animal Protection League found him shot, he was brought to the Winnipeg Humane Society where he underwent a series of surgeries to repair his skull. The Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) put him up for adoption when he had healed. Kelly Burkitt and his partner had followed the story in newspapers, but when he called to set up a meeting with Parker, he learned that someone had already claimed him.
“We still had to see Parker for ourselves,” says Burkitt. “Even after everything he went through, he was such a kind, happy dog. We took Parker for a walk and immediately fell in love. His tail wagged constantly and he wouldn’t leave our sides.”
Lucky for the couple, the original adoption fell through. “We of course had to adopt him. My girlfriend, Liane, and I weren’t quite sure how he would adapt in our home seeing as he was in and out of several foster homes. But, only after about a week or so, we could just tell he felt at home. We have experienced no challenges with Parker. He is the best dog we could ever ask for.”
The couple wanted to make Parker even happier, so they adopted another puppy named Jax from Manitoba Mutts. “I would always go with the adopting route because it gives you such a warm feeling inside. These two couldn`t be any happier together and we are so happy to have them as family members.”
That’s just one adoption success story. In addition to the WHS and Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue, there are organizations that facilitate adoptions such as D’Arcy’s Animal Rescue Centre, Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter, Jenn’s Furry Friends Rescue and Manitoba Small Dog Rescue Inc.
Most of the adoption agencies have fees that cover the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats, requisite shots and basic health care. Typically, organizations provide an application form with questions about experience with animals, lifestyle, family members including other pets, living arrangements and reasons for adopting.
All animals at the WHS go through a behaviour assessment that includes exposing them to other animals and finding out whether the animals interact well with children. If you are thinking of adopting, it’s best to bring the whole family, including other pets, down for a meeting.
“We take many steps to ensure happy, long-term adoptions,” said Laina Hughes, WHS Communications Coordinator. “Our behaviour department works closely with our animals, and along with our adoptions counsellors they’re able to educate potential adopters on which animals would make the best pets for their homes.”
The WHS also offers the YELP line, a phone line run by the behaviour department. Pet owners can call 204-988-8808 to receive over-the-phone counselling for their pet’s behaviour issues.
Bonding and Training
Contrary to popular belief, just watching The Dog Whisperer will not give you all the tools you need to train your dog, especially if you want to correct problem behaviours such as aggression.
Cesar Millan’s wildly popular show has influenced countless dog owners. Lisa Rasmussen, owner of The Noble Hound, says that she has seen the damage inflicted when dog owners have tried to apply tactics they’ve learned on The Dog Whisperer.
A certified dog trainer and graduate of the Canada West Canine Centre, Rasmussen favours a scientific-based approach that is based on research about canine cognition and behaviour.
“The shift has been to more reward-based and positive training,” she explains. “The aggressive, pushing the dog to submit approach is tantamount to spanking kids or giving them the belt. It’s old school.”
Rasmussen advocates puppy training for a couple of reasons. “It’s a strong bonding experience and the puppy needs to learn impulse control.” She offers puppy training classes, a six-week basic obedience class for dogs that may need a behavioural tune up, and an advanced class that focuses on building on fundamental commands.
She recently opened her doors to a brand new facility where she will offer day training. The day training is appropriate for dogs that need to interact with a small pack and brush up on their social skills. “There are packages available that include daily progress reports. It’s a great option for dogs who need playtime and socialization.”
Rasmussen offers special rates for dogs adopted from Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue.
Doggie Daycares & Spas
There are no shortage of services for pet owners who want to lavish care and love on their fur babies. From doggie daycare to elegant spas, local business owners do a tremendous job of offering our furry loved ones the best.
The Dog Loft offers a suite of services including doggie daycare, grooming and hotel services. With 24/7 staff around, your dog will never be alone. If your dog stays three nights or more, your beloved will receive a complimentary “Bath and Tidy” on pick-up day.
“We are all dog lovers and we treat your dog like he or she is our own,” says Katie Heinrichs, owner of The Dog Loft, a 4,000-square foot facility. “It’s our mandate to provide a safe environment for mental stimulation, physical activity, and confidence-building situations for your dog.”
When Patrick Maxwell moved to the Osborne Village area, he discovered there were no walkable grooming services for pets. An avid animal lover with a background in grooming, Maxell met the demand in the marketplace and opened up The White Lotus Pet Spa.
“I wanted to create a true pet spa. We offer grooming services for all types of animals. We have dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits as clients,” explains Maxwell.
Popular spa treatments for dogs include a shampoo with a non-toxic, hypoallergenic shampoo that comes in fragrance free and 15 scents ranging from bubblegum to cookie.
Following the wash, your dog is towelled down with a plush towel. The groomers do custom cuts or special brushing that helps eliminate shedding. There’s even nail painting for the girl dogs.
Maxwell has devoted 1,000 square feet of the 3,000-square foot spa to an elite Canine Social Club of no more than 10 dogs, allowing for highly personalized service and care. “We keep the dogs stimulated. They play Swedish dog puzzle games for owner-approved treats.”
We Winnipeggers love our fur babies and there are plenty of other businesses located throughout Winnipeg that offer services that will delight you and your pet.