Dog training class has been canceled on Tuesday, May 21st, due to the severe weather predicted to hit our area. Class will be made up on Tuesday, May 28th.

Aug 3, 2022

Reuniting Souls to Create New Loving Families

SHARE:

Thanks to supporters like you, DCHS’s Behavior Modification program can help dogs like Hank improve their manners and prepare for success in their new homes.

“Hank and his new dad seemed to be two reunited souls,” says Cece Marzano, a Shelter Resource Counselor at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS). “Hank truly came alive when he met Jerome.”

Hank, a white and tan Siberian husky mix, went home with his new dad in July of 2021, and they’ve thrived together ever since. But Hank had a long, and at times challenging, road before finding his new family.

As an open-admission shelter, DCHS accepts all animals who need assistance regardless of age, health status, or temperament. This means animals come to DCHS with varied needs – some need immediate medical attention, some simply need food and shelter, some need vaccinations, and some need extra help learning their manners. Hank fell into this last group.

Hank arrived at DCHS in May of 2021 from an overcrowded shelter in Mississippi. We noticed shortly after his arrival that he was uncomfortable, stressed, and fearful. He didn’t want to be touched, became tense with any sort of body handling, and carefully guarded his food.

Veterinary staff started him on stress-reducing medication, and the Canine Behavior Team (CBT) stepped in to provide behavioral support that could relieve anxiety. As Hank began to settle in, there were moments when he was loose and wiggly, a relaxed and comfortable dog, but there were still many moments when he was clearly concerned by his surroundings.

Hank liked to show affection by jumping on his friends and mouthing their hands. Aptly named “jumpy/mouthy,” this kind of behavior is rarely related to dominance or aggression; it’s a normal canine response to excitement, energy, or stress – three things Hank had in abundance.

All of this made it clear that Hank would need a little extra help getting ready to go home.

CBT’s Behavior Modification program helps dogs that need extra training to be successful in a new home. Through a Behavior Modification plan, each dog receives daily, dedicated training time from people who follow set protocols and keep detailed notes.

“The Behavior Modification program works on unwanted behaviors, and in turn, helps the dog be a better family member,” says Jessica Marchant, Canine Behavior Team Supervisor. “We work on specific behaviors that the dog is showing in the shelter and showed at home if we know the behavior background.”

Jessica and CBT assigned Hank a Behavior Modification protocol designed to work on body handling and over-excitement.

“While on Behavior Modification, he was bouncing back and forth from tense, jumping up, mouthing, and freezing to calm, playing fetch, doing better with body handling,” says Jessica. “We worked on conditioning him to a Gentle Leader (a type of collar), which helped him calm down and enabled the team to better handle him.”

During his weeks on a Behavior Modification plan, Hank gradually improved. Still, DCHS staff knew he would need a special family, ideally someone who had experience with huskies and who was prepared to handle Hank’s BIG personality.

Luckily for Hank, his perfect match was out there looking for him.

Jerome and Hank on Hank's adoption day

“I fell in love with Hank after seeing him on the Humane Society website,” says Jerome Holliday, Hank’s new dad. “I knew he was a perfect fit for me.”

Jerome came to meet Hank at the shelter, and it was immediately obvious they were meant to be.

“Jerome simply crouched down and said, ‘my baby!’” says Cece. “And Hank was a puddle in his lap. One of my best adoption looks to this day!”

Jerome had an understanding of huskies and couldn’t wait to take Hank on long walks and runs. He was also provided with specialized information on Hank’s behavior.

Jessica explains, “When adopters come in to meet a dog, the Adoption Center staff will go over the Behavior Modification spreadsheet, where all the people who worked with the dog write up what they worked on, how the dog did with the protocols, and if the dog learned a different way than what was on the protocol. Each dog has handouts for their particular behavior and explanations for how to continue to work with them.”

Jerome continued the work Hank started in his Behavior Modification plan. “He has learned how to fetch his toys and bring them back, especially when he is at the park,” says Jerome. “Hank is friendly and gets along great with any pet, including cats! He is also great around people.”

In addition to learning manners, Hank is learning how to be a good friend to Jerome. “The other night, Hank woke me up out of a devastating nightmare,” Jerome explains. “I felt his cold nose and his head under my arm to wake me up. This behavior is alert and outstanding for my health. He has become a precious joy in my life.”

It’s thanks to your generous support that DCHS can give dedicated time and attention to animals like Hank who need a little extra training to be successful in their new homes. Together with you, our incredible community, we can reunite lost souls and create new loving families, just like Hank and Jerome. Thank you!

Natasha Saidikowski is the Donor Engagement Coordinator at DCHS.

Jerome and Hank in Hank's new loving home

2021 Annual Report

Canine Behavior Team

Animal Medical Services

Support DCHS's Lifesaving Work

Read All the Stories in Family Tails 2022

Next Story

May 20th, 2024

A Soft Landing for Rocket

When senior dog Rocket needed time outside of the shelter, one of DCHS’s foster families immediately stepped up. Now, she’s thriving in her new home.

Full Story

Next Story

Apr 26th, 2024

Celebrating Ruth Vetter Day

April 26th marks a special day at Dane County Humane Society (DCHS).

Full Story

Next Story

Apr 10th, 2024

YOU Can Help Wildlife's Youngest Patients During Baby Shower Week

Thanks to a surprise $2,500 matching gift from Steve and Margie Holzheuter, you can DOUBLE your impact for baby wildlife when you give between now and Sunday April 21st!

Full Story

Next Story

Apr 10th, 2024

Big Brown Bat Rises

A Big Brown Bat was near death when he arrived at DCHS's Wildlife Center earlier this year. After steady care from wildlife rehabilitators, this bat made an amazing transformation.

Full Story

Next Story

Apr 10th, 2024

Braving the Cold and Saving Babies

DCHS's Wildlife Center admitted its first baby wild animals of the season. Read more to learn about what it takes to care for the youngest members of the wildlife kingdom.

Full Story

Next Story

Apr 10th, 2024

The Reptile Recovery Center at DCHS's Wildlife Center

DCHS’s Wildlife Center has been housing five patients in our Reptile Recovery Center (the RRC) since this past winter. Let's learn more about them.

Full Story