By Scott Delucchi, Peninsula Humane Society
Four Peninsula Humane Society shelter dogs will graduate Friday, Jan. 10, from an eight-week training program made possible by a partnership with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and the work of minimum security inmates who have been the dogs' handlers.
The ceremony will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. at PHS/SPCA's Center for Compassion (1450 Rollins Road in Burlingame) in the center's indoor dog park. Sheriff's Office staff, PHS staff and possibly some of the inmate handlers' family members will attend. Prospective adopters and general public may attend as well.
For the past eight weeks, the dogs have lived at the Men's Minimum Security Transitional Facility at 1580 Maple St. in Redwood City. Every Friday, a PHS trainer holds a training class for the inmate handlers. Outside of class, the inmate handlers are responsible for homework from class, socialization, grooming, exercise, clean-up and overall well-being for their dogs.
The graduates are:
● Elsa, a 1-year-old shepherd mix. She entered the program as a very sweet, yet timid dog. After a few weeks in TAILS, she came out of her shell, though can still be shy around men.
● Bud, a 2-year-old Boston terrier. He is very distracted and not treat motivated, which made training challenging. Loves playing ball. He was a bit intense when meeting dogs but has improved.
● Pearl, a 4-month-old, very cuddly pit bull puppy. She has Demodex, the skin disease that is not contagious to dogs or people but is improving with meds and a special shampoo. She is cute and affectionate, but needs continued work with basic training.
● Tope, 10-year-old pug/chihuahua. Super smart dog who likes training and very food motivated. He barks a lot for attention, for food, at the dogs and needs work on this. Increased exercise and training have benefited him. He tolerates other dogs, but does not play. Tope has some age-related vision issues but is in overall good health. Ideal companion for older or less active adopters.
During Friday's ceremony, Sheriff's Office staff and PHS/SPCA staff will give brief remarks and present certificates to the inmate handlers. Then, guests will see the dogs in action: handlers will give a brief demonstration of their ongoing work and progress.
Elsa and Bud already have adopters, but Pearl and Tope need homes. Prospective adopters can contact PHS/SPCA Behavior & Training Director, Maria Eguren, at 650/340-7022, ext. 306, or MEguren@PHS-SPCA.org for more information or to arrange for a personal meeting.
Since the TAILS (Transitioning Animals Into Loving Situations) partnership between PHS/SPCA and the Sheriff's Office began in July 2009, 59 dogs have graduated.
The TAILS program gives dogs with limited adoption potential (or puppies with little socialization and training) constant care and attention from inmates and provides inmates an avenue for developing skills and making their time more meaningful.
An average day for the dogs under the guidance of their inmate handlers consists of many supervised off-leash romps in the facility's yard, group "play dates" with other dogs in the program, individual work on homework assignments from the weekly obedience classes and socialization with other inmates.
TAILS recently expanded to include participation from female inmates who groom the dogs and provide additional exercise and socialization. Within the next week or so, PHS/SPCA staff will select another group of dogs for the next TAILS class.
The Peninsula Human Society website is at www.phs-spca.org.