Dory’s tale is a great adoption success story and this week she shared her “tail” with a group of inspiring kids at a summer camp.
On a chilly day in January 2013, Dory found her way to The Anti-Cruelty Society from a shelter in Indiana. The Society is an unlimited-stay shelter that gets a great deal of foot-traffic being in the bustling River North neighborhood. It is not uncommon for them to help shelters with space and time limitations by taking in dogs. Dory happened to be at The Anti-Cruelty Society when some special potential adopters came through the doors on the wintery day.
Shedd’s executive vice president of animal care and training, Ken Ramirez, was at The Anti-Cruelty Society looking for a very special dog. The lucky pooch chosen by Ramirez would be taken to live at the Shedd Aquarium. Dogs in the average household may spend the day alone while their families head off to work and school, but the pups adopted by Shedd would get to live in a special area built in the aquarium for dogs (I know some marine mammal lovers that would give anything to spend a night in that building) and would get to spend 24/7 with a team of caring animal professionals. Long walks on the gorgeous museum campus are a nice perk too.
When Ken Ramirez met Dory, he spent some time with her and knew she would be perfect for the job. Dory spent several months in training – along with two other dogs that were adopted from Chicago’s Animal Care & Control. Whether training dogs or dolphins, the “Shedd Way” of training is to solely use positive reinforcement. There is never a need to punish a pet as this only teaches fear and punishment avoidance. When dogs are trained only using positive reinforcement, it strengthens the human- animal bond and teaches the pet to look to the trainer (or owner) as a source of all things positive. Animals trained the positive way offer behaviors because they are driven to please and be rewarded (a concept easily understood by the kids in the camp Dory visited).
Dory and the other two shelter dogs now alternate to take center stage in Shedd’s new multi-species aquatic show, “One World”, which focuses on the interconnectivity of the living world and the role humans play in caring for animals in the wild and at home.
Dory and Ramirez returned to The Anti-Cruelty Society this week to visit kids in “Humane Heroes” summer camp. The day-camp is for 10-12-year-olds and focuses on empowering kids to become heroes for animals. Traits of empathy and compassion are elevated to super-hero level as kids are inspired by two weeks of animal interactions while they learn about animal care.
The kids were eager to see Dory and hear her story, but it was equally impressive to listen to all the questions they had for Ramirez. The room was peppered with self-proclaimed future veterinarians and animal trainers, but all the kids attending the camp love animals and they were happy to learn about Dory’s successful adoption “tail”. These kids and Dory can show the world that shelter animals make terrific pets.
For more information about The Anti-Cruelty Society’s education programs, please visit www.anticruelty.org/education. Full details about the aquatic show at Shedd featuring Dory can be found at www.sheddaquarium.org/oneworld.
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