From “Frat” Boy to Good Boy – Ice’s Transformation!

No one can say that Ice lacks spunk. Despite his rather “cold” moniker, the 1-year-old Boxer mix is an outrageously energetic pup with a plucky personality. And with his animated, wagging tale and tongue hanging lazily from his mouth, Ice will happily barrel into a new friend with his signature greeting.

This was how the staff at Foothills Animal Shelter met Ice after he was surrendered to the Shelter in the beginning of September. Noting his obvious energy, it was clear upon that first meeting that Ice would be a candidate for the Shelter’s behavior program. Although Ice was friendly with everyone he met, the Animal Enrichment Team noticed that he tended to not only jump all over the place but would also excitedly pull on his leash.

“Ice is what we call a ‘frat’ boy – he stresses ‘up’ in a Shelter environment; so instead of shying away and hiding in corners, he gets really excited and his energy levels go up,” said Darby Maloney, Foothills Animal Shelter’s Animal Enrichment Coordinator. “We knew that getting him out of the Shelter environment would be most helpful for his progress.”

 

To get him out of the Shelter, Maloney would take Ice on long walks in and around the area. During this time Ice would spend hours in an environment that allowed for him to let out some of his energy and take in the sights and smells of the Colorado outdoors. Almost immediately the Animal Enrichment Team began seeing an improvement in Ice’s demeanor and energy levels. However, Ice still wasn’t quite ready for adoption. Since he would be meeting potential families in the Shelter, in addition to still having to interact with staff and volunteers there, the team knew that he would need more work in calming his exchanges with people.

“He is an incredibly smart dog in addition to being very high-energy, so we knew that in our work with Ice we had to run exercises that would stimulate him mentally as well as physically,” said Stephanie Baigent, the Shelter’s Animal Enrichment Manager. “We knew that we would also need to teach him how to ‘dog’ around people.”

Baigent, along with the rest of her Animal Enrichment Team and the help of several dedicated volunteers gave him the opportunities to do just that.

Spread out amongst a vast green field on a rainy Friday morning, Stephanie Baigent, and close to 20 volunteers, form a loose circle where they all await Ice’s arrival with bags of chicken in their pockets. There they will run an exercise with Ice – allowing him to run around the circle to those that call out his name and where he will be awarded with a delicious chicken treat only after he sits patiently for his presenter. It’s a training activity outside of his daily walks and play-groups that keeps him active and challenges him to alter his behaviors to receive his rewards, and fortunately, it is also one that Ice takes to right away. Within minutes of starting the exercise he already catches on, steadily waiting for his chicken from each circle participant.

“Ice has definitely been one of our biggest success stories,” said Darby Maloney. “He took to his training so fast and he made such a huge improvement in a short amount of time. He was such a joy to work with.”

Ice’s long walks, play-groups and behavior exercises with staff and volunteers had truly paid off. Ice was a quick learner and soon learned how to “dog” around people – sitting nicely when greeting new friends and waiting patiently for chicken and treats. And after just a few short weeks he was ready to find his forever home! Luckily for Ice, he didn’t have to wait very long. When Katrina and her family came to the Shelter to meet Ice, they knew right away that he was the perfect pup for them!

“Ice is a huge part of our family and we love him so much! Ice fits in perfectly with our active lifestyle in our tiny mountain town and has settled in beautifully,” said Katrina, Ice’s new adoptive mom. “He has calmed down tremendously, but his 2 walks a day help with that! We are hoping to soon start our adventure of therapy training so that Ice can become a licensed therapy dog for children with disabilities!”

Because of the extensive work of the Shelter’s Animal Enrichment Team, Ice became another Foothills Animal Shelter success story with a happy ending! And while his signature greeting may have changed a bit, thanks to the team, he is always still happy to oblige a new friend with a face full of slobbery kisses…now with their permission of course!

See Ice in action! Click play to see our Behavior Team run some exercises with Ice and adoptable dog Cisco, with the help of some of our amazing volunteers!


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