A dog’s day out

Local shelter connects dogs with friends for the day

Dori, a “spokesdog” with the Tri-Lakes Humane Society, stands with shelter Director Carla Stroud on Monday. The shelter is starting up a program to let members of the public take one of its shelter dogs out for a day on the town, in hopes that it helps them find a permanent home. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

SARANAC LAKE — Can’t commit to a canine? Does your apartment not allow dogs? You can take a pooch out for a day and enjoy the world with them through a new program the Tri-Lakes Humane Society is offering.

Tri-Lakes Humane Society shelter Director Carla Stroud said the shelter is expanding its enrichment program. The shelter already allows in-house day visits, and has done take-out dog days casually before, but Stroud said with the coronavirus pandemic there’s been fewer people in the shelter and the pooches need more socialization.

The program is free but relies on the availability of the dogs. Right now, neither of the dogs at the shelter are ready to go out, but Stroud said they’re in training to be eligible.

Stroud said taking a dog out for the day can be great for the animals’ mental health.

“Social isolation is one of the biggest stressors for shelter dogs,” she said.

When the animals go out, socialize, cross off things on their doggy “wish list” and get away from life in the kennel, dogs are more calm, and thus, more adoptable, Stroud said.

Stroud said learning how to behave at a restaurant or on a hike builds life skills for the dogs.

As part of the shelter’s new program, shelter staff will match the right activities to the dog, match the dog to the right people and match the right people to the dog, according to Stroud. Not all dogs are calm enough to do this, and not all dogs can go on a long hike or paddle.

“Safety of the dogs and safety of the public … is obviously an important concern for us,” she said. “We’ll never match a guest with a dog that isn’t a good fit.”

She hopes someone might take a dog for a day, fall in love, and choose to adopt. Or someone might see a shelter dog out and about and think about adopting them.

Currently, Stroud said there are two adoptable dogs at the shelter. Having a low population at the shelter is “great,” she said. It means there are fewer dogs waiting for homes. At times, there are up to 10 dogs waiting for homes there.

Surprisingly, the shelter’s numbers remained low despite the pandemic, Shroud said. As humans adapted to social isolation last year, many sought companionship in a new pet. There was concern that this would lead to many being returned when lockdown ended, but Stroud said she hasn’t seen anything like that.

The Humane Society is also starting a “Dogcation” program with the Saranac Waterfront Lodge, allowing hotel guests to take a shelter dog out for a paddle, a hike or lunch. The service costs $40, which the Saranac Waterfront Lodge matches, bringing in $80 every time someone takes out a pooch.

Saranac Waterfront Lodge Managing Director Anura Dewapura said he loves this program because pets can be good friends and family members.

“If someone doesn’t like animals, it says a lot,” Dewapura said. “People who don’t like animals, there’s something wrong.”

On Monday, Stroud was hanging out with Dori, a two-year-old beagle mix who is one of the shelter’s “spokesdogs.” Dori was adopted two years ago, but still comes in to “paw it forward.”

Dori’s mother found her at the shelter’s 2019 Bow Wow Luau.

“Her adopter was able to see her at a public setting and that’s what ultimately gave the the decision to take her home,” Stroud said.

Now, Dori has become a “social butterfly,” she said.

Appointments with the dogs can be set up by calling the Tri-Lakes Humane Society at 518-891-0017 or visiting its Saranac Lake office.


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