Aug 26 2011

They Will Come Back

Guess what!  I’m going to the park with my people today!  That is always SO much fun!  But, I gotta tell ya, things really haven’t been very fun for me around here lately.  My people brought home a little baby a few weeks ago and it cries all the time!  They cuddle and play with it most of the time (if they’re not feeding it – which is A LOT!) and don’t pay much attention to me anymore.  But, I heard them say that we’re going to the park today!  I’m so Happy!  Wait!  What?  Time to get in the car?  All right!  Be right there!  Yippee!  Let’s go!!! 

Riding in the car is so cool!  I love looking at all the pretty scenery as we pass by.  And, look over there, there’s the park!  Open the door!  Open the door!!!  Finally – The door is open and off I go!  Yea!  Now throw the Frisbee!  Throw the Frisbee!  Yea!  I’ll get it!  Be right back!  OK.  Got it.  I’ll be right there!  Wait!  What are you doing?  Don’t get back in the car!  Play time isn’t over yet!  Oh, well, OK, wait for me, I’ll be right there.  Hey!  I said WAIT!!!  What are you doing?!!!  Where are you going?!!!  You can’t just leave me here!  Oh well, they’ll come back.  I know they will.  They must have an errand to run and figure I can just stay here and play while they’re gone.  Maybe they went to get me some treats.  Yeah, that’s probably it.  I love treats!  But, they’ll be right back.  I know they will. 

It’s getting dark and I’m kind of scared.  And, I’m getting cold and really hungry too.  But, I’d better just wait here, because they’ll be back.  I know they will.  Wait…..  I hear a car.  See.  Told you they’d be back.  Wait…..  It doesn’t sound like their car.  I hear laughing though, so it must be someone nice.  Maybe they’ll have some food for me to eat while I wait for my people.  Sounds like they’re getting closer now.  I can see that the windows are down and all four of them are reaching out and holding something in their hands.  Must be food!  Yes!  I’m SO hungry.  NO, please don’t throw that at me!  OUCH!  That hurt!  That wasn’t nice!  I’m running really fast now, but I can still see drips of blood falling to the ground from my head every once-in-awhile.  I feel like crying but I know I just need to keep running.  Finally, I’m far enough away that I can stop to rest, but I can still hear them laughing.  Why would they laugh?  They hurt me.  Why would they think that was funny?  I think I’d better just go into the safety of this brushy area and scratch out a place to rest for the night because my people will be back in the morning.  I know they will. 

It’s been six days now and I don’t know where my people are, but I still think I’d better wait right here for them.  I just wish they would come soon because only a couple of people have thrown me a few little scraps of food, and I’m really hungry.  Fortunately, I’ve found that there is usually a little bit of water under the water foundation.  It’s morning again and I see the sun rising, but I feel too tired to get up.  And, I’m SO hungry!  Where are my people?  I’ll bet they’re probably just having breakfast.  Then they’ll come back for me.  I know they will.  Wait…. I hear another car.  That must be them!  No….., it’s some kind of truck.  It’s not my people, but they are stopping.  I’d better stay here in the brush and hide.  I don’t want to have stuff thrown at me again!  I see a man walking towards me and talking really nice.  Maybe he’s OK.  Maybe he has some food for me.  I’ll just take a peek, but not get too close.  I really could use some food and water!  I’m stretching out my neck and sniffing but I don’t see any food.  He’s still talking nice to me though, so I won’t run yet.  WHOA!  WAIT!  What is that?  How did that happen so fast?  There’s some kind of a lasso thing around my neck attached to this pole that he has, and now he’s tugging me towards him.  I don’t want to go!  Please, just let me stay here.  PLEASE!  My people will be back!  I know they will!  He’s forcing me into his truck!  How will my people find me if he takes me away?!  This isn’t fair!  PLEASE, just let me go back!

I like car rides, but I don’t like this one!  Where on earth could we be going?  My people will never find me now!  We’ve been traveling for such a long time, so we must be way far away from my people by now.  We’re stopping, but I have no idea where we are.  I’m scared…  Please, please don’t hurt me…

I’m in a big building now and there are several people feeling all over my body and looking in my ears and at my teeth.  That’s weird!  But, they aren’t mean and it’s not hurting me, so maybe it’s going to be OK.  Maybe they’ll just let me sit right here by the door and wait for my people.  Surely they’ll find me.  They have to!  I love them!!!  Oh, man, now what?  Another leash thing around my neck and someone taking me somewhere else.  Just so you know folks, I don’t need that leash.  I stay right with my people.  Like I said – I love them! 

Whoa!  I don’t like this.  They’re putting me in some sort of little room.  And, I mean little!  This is nothing like home!  But, wait, I see food!  Oh my gosh, thank you!  I am so hungry!  And water!  Oh, thank you, thank you!  This is so good!  Kind of cramped quarters compared to what I’m used to, but there’s a fluffy blanket over there, so I think I’ll lie down and rest awhile.  I’m really tired! 

It’s been about 4 or 5 days now and I still haven’t seen my people.  Maybe the man in the truck did take me too far away for my people to find me.  I’m so lonely and I miss them so much.  There’s lots of nice people here though.  They feed me all the food I want and take me out for walks, and even let me run and play in the park.  But I really miss my people and I just want to go home. 

Someone is opening my door now.  Maybe my people are here to get me!  Nope.  Just moving to another little room………  This area is different than the last one though.  Lots of people walking by.  I’m a very friendly pooch, so I always smile when I see them!  One of these times I’ll just bet that my people will be the ones who come walking by.  They’ll come for me.  I know they will. 

Well, I’ve been in this new little room for probably 2 weeks now and my people still have not come to get me.  You don’t think they could have forgotten about me, do you?  No, they couldn’t have.  They’ll come for me.  I know they will.  Maybe they’re here now!  Someone’s coming towards me with a leash.  Nope.  They’re alone.  Must just be time for a walk.  But, we’re not going to the usual place.  I wonder what’s going on.  Hmmmm.  This is a new area.  A much BIGGER room than I’m usually in.  I wonder if I’ll get to stay in here now!  That would be fun!  Oh, here come some people into my new room.  A man, a woman and 2 little people.  Not little tiny like the baby that is in my home, but lots smaller than the man and woman.  I think they are both boys too.  Hi!  Hi!  Oh, you’re nice.  I want to sniff you, and you too, and you and you too.  Oh, that feels good!  I love to be pet!  Oh, this is so nice.  A ball?  Yeah, I see the ball!  Throw it!  Throw it!  Yea!  I’ll get it!  I’ll get it!  Here you go.  You can have it.  Throw it again!  Throw it again!  I’ll get it!  I’ll get it!  This is so much fun!  Oh boy!  Hugs!!!  I love hugs!!!  Wait…. Please don’t leave.  I was having so much fun.  Dang!  Back in my little room again….. Oh, well, that wasn’t for very long.  There’s the leash person again.  Now where are we going?  Out front?  OK.  Look! – There are the people I was playing with a little while ago.  I’ll just wiggle right up next to the little people.  They seemed to really like me.  A new collar, and a new leash?  OK.  That’s cool.  Now out the front door?  OK.  Are we going somewhere?  Well, OK, you do seem pretty nice.  Are you taking me back to my people?  That would be SO cool? I’ll bet that’s where we’re going.  I am going to be so happy to see my people again.  Even the little baby that cries all the time! 

Well, this isn’t home, but it sure is nice.  I’ll just follow them around and see if I can figure out what’s going on.  This place is really big.  WOW!  Will you look at the size of that dog bed!  Mine?  Really?  I HAVE to jump on it!  Ahhh.  This is so comfy.  Maybe I’ll just rest for a bit.  No?  Play?  OK!  Let’s go!  Holy Moly!  Look at the size of that yard!  I must be in Heaven!  Hey!  Watch me!  I’m going to catch that squirrel!  Oh well, maybe next time.  You have a ball?  OK.  Let’s play fetch… 

It’s been about 7 years now since I found my new home.  I love it here and I LOVE my new people but I still think about my other people sometimes and wonder if they still might be looking for me.  I’ll bet they are.  I do still love them and I guess I always will.  Do you think they stopped looking for me and maybe got another dog instead?  Who knows, huh?  I’ll bet they miss me though, and that makes me sad sometimes, but I can’t stay sad very long because I have so much fun with my new family!  They are the nicest people you will ever meet and they love me SO much!  And I LOVE them too! I’m one VERY LUCKY dog!  Well, gotta go.  We’re going camping! 


Written By Karen Brown
Lead Development Associate at Wayside Waifs

Aug 12 2011

Clicker Training Your Cat

Think of these words: Obedience Training. Tricks for Treats. You probably thought of dog training, right? What if I told you all of those words can be applied to cat training? Cats may be high and mighty most of the time, but it does not mean that they don’t know the value of looking cute (especially if food is involved). Claire Williams, a Cat Adoption Counselor at Wayside Waifs, sat down with me to discuss clicker training for cats. Like some of you might be thinking, my first thought was “yea, right”. But the way Williams describes it, it’s attainable and a possibility for any cat! But what is clicker training? 

Clicker training is marking wanted behavior and then proceeding to give a reward for the wanted behavior. A click signifies the wanted behavior, and the treat is the reward. You may be most familiar with clicker training in canines; who would have thought you could do the same with cats? In fact, the founder of clicker training, Karen Pryor, has used clicker training with a wide variety of animals! Cats, dogs, horses, dolphins and rabbits are just a few of her training subjects. 

The question is how do you start clicker training a cat? “The cat gets a treat for breathing” Williams says, “When you click, they get a treat. They don’t have to do anything at first. You just want to establish a connection that the clicker sound means a treat”. She recommends doing ‘mini sessions’ throughout the day, until your cat starts to understand what’s going on. Also, the treats you might already be buying for your cat at the store might not cut it. Let’s remember how picky a cat can be about their food. They don’t mind if you give them a treat that came out of a bottle but you don’t think they’re going to roll over for it, do you? 

Once your cat gets used to the clicker sound being a cue for a treat, start rewarding certain behaviors. If you see a behavior that you like, click and treat. Once they start to catch on, they’ll start doing the behavior on their own. Then, you just need to come up with a hand or verbal signal that signifies what the cat is supposed to do. They will realize that every time they do something in particular they get a treat and they’ll start doing it more often. 

But can cats perform the same kind of tricks that dogs do? Williams knows they can! “They can sit, come, stay…even jump through a hoop if you want them too!” The trick is to find something your feline does not want to live without. In most instances it’s a high value treat; something along the lines of pieces of chicken, hamburger or tuna. Remember though; don’t make the pieces too big. You don’t want to fill up their tummies and lose their interest! At the same time, don’t make your ‘mini sessions’ too long; keep your kitty wanting more. 

So, what advice does Williams give to people who are interested in training their cat?  “Patience, patience, patience”. She says the best times to try and clicker train your cat is when it’s around feeding time, or if they are hungry. You also do not need an actual “clicker” to clicker train, “You can use things such as pens or staplers; tools that mimic the clicker sound”. The main thing you need to do though is be consistent. Consistency is the key to any kind of training and the same goes for cat training. If you do not consistently treat them when they deserve, they will quickly loose interest or become frustrated.  

There are plenty of online resources that are at your disposal to find out more information about cat clicker training. Some cats can do some pretty awesome tricks (my favorite is probably the most simple: high-five). You can also go to Karen Pryor’s website, where she has information and suggestions on how to work with your kitty. Good luck, and remember- be patient! 

Written by Alyssa Willet
Adoptions Supervisor at Wayside Waifs

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