Enrichment! Enrichment! Enrichment! It’s a foundational concept in the way we care for the dogs and cats here. And it’s not just a nice “icing on the cake” thing to further make our guests’ time here an enjoyable one. Given the length of time most of the animals are here and the challenges they experience here, it is an absolute necessity to their mental health. Physical and mental exercise, in ways that challenge them and follow their natural instincts, put them at ease and bring a level of comfort and soothing that can’t be matched any other way. In discussing this topic the other day, I was reminded of an iconic movie quote…
“T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed. He wants to hunt!”
So this month, I’d like to take a moment to talk about some of the ways we help our guests get in touch with their inner T-Rex’s.
What do you do if you are a ferocious, murderous beast, descendant from the king of the jungle, but you have found yourself in the care of some humans who just want to love you and give you comfy warm beds to sleep in? Sure, the food is yummy and the soft brushing feels soooo good, but deep down, you know there’s a killer inside. Well, if you’re a cat at Our Companions, we’ve got you covered! Of course there’s the teaser toy time that our staff and volunteers give to let you chase, pounce, and bite to your heart’s content, but why stop there? Some other ways that we help our cats be cats include No Bowl feeders, a mouse shaped toy that dispenses food when attacked, and bringing piles of fall leaves in, to get a little bit of the wild outdoors indoors. And most special of all this year has been the use of new cat safe play yard where the cats can explore, chase bugs, and picture themselves out on the savannah, surveying their kingdom.
Then there’s the dogs. While they may not possess the same blood-lust of our feline friends, they are one of nature’s great thinkers and problem solvers, with a sense of smell that is the envy of the animal kingdom. Our Companions makes sure to do our best to let our canine geniuses show off their brain power. You may have seen in recent OC social media, footage of Brooke and Tucker playing their favorite new game, Get-The-Treats-Out-Of-The-Cooler! Their eyes light up at the sight of those little red boxes, and they get so excited to figure out how to get the prize inside. What’s even more amazing is that, during some recent training activities, a pile of chicken on the floor was nothing special to Brooke, but she’d go wherever we asked for a chance to get a few kibbles out of a cooler. It’s all about the hunt, not the prize! A similar principle is at work when Gidget and Miel get to play with their snuffle mats. If you haven’t heard of them before, a snuffle mat is an area of fabric with numerous nooks and crannies to hide kibble in. It’s a sniffy adventure that keeps those pit bull brains happily working away.
Enrichment is a key piece in the work we do with the dogs and cats here, and it’s something that we always keep finding new and interesting ways to apply to the dogs and cats. It never ends. Which I guess make the pursuit of new games and challenges a bit of enrichment for us humans as well!
And of Course…Adoptions!!
As anyone would have guessed, the big adoption news for October was all about kittens. Four out of Noodles’s five kittens went home. After Ziti’s sidetrack with a leg injury, he is still awaiting a home, but in the meantime, he will be making friends with Lucky and some new kittens we’ll be bringing in. One of those new kitten friends is our newest cat guest, Niles, a kitten recovering from an eyelid surgery. Also arriving this month to the cat world is Ralphie.