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Field Trip


One of the things that all the staff members have been trying these days is socialization training for the dogs. All the dogs have gone through some sort of hardship before they came to ARK, and because of that, some of them are not really suitable as pets. However, in most cases, this just comes down to lack of experience, so we try to let the animals experience as many different things as we can. One of these is what we call a “field trip”.

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We use the method that Arima-san, from Japan Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, taught us. We take the dog to a crowded area with lots of people and cars passing by, and get him to sit in one place and watch. While the dog is observing what’s going on around him, we give him snacks, talk to him and encourage him. We give him foods that he wouldn’t normally get to eat, like cheese or salami, or some strong flavored food that humans eat, to help him get used to the people, cars, city and noise. At ARK, dogs also have no chance to go for car rides, so field trips provide training to help get over car sickness. That’s one of the important things we do to help adopters, as many adopters want to know if the dog gets car sick easily.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been on a field trip yet. I’ve only heard the stories or watched videos of the trips, so I’ll have to tell you the details of some field trips without pictures.

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CHAR
Char sometimes gives a bad impression because he barks at dogs and strangers who walk past his cage at ARK. But actually he’s just a sweet dog who needs some company. I talked about him here before. When he stayed over at a staff member’s house, he was quiet at home, could wait for the toilet, and was able to stay in the house alone without any problems. He also got used to being in a car. During the field trip, he never got scared, was quite relaxed while walking around town, and ate snacks happily while watching the world go by.

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TREASURE
Treasure is scared of strangers and if they look into her cage, she hides in her kennel and totally disappears. She likes going on walks and getting fed, so she gets along really well with the volunteers. On her first field trip, she couldn’t bring herself to eat any snacks, but she did manage to sit calmly. Well, that was what we thought, but when we tried to leave, she couldn’t stand up. She was actually too scared to move. She got car sick too. However, the second time, Treasure managed some snacks and didn’t get car sick much at all. She was originally born in the corner of some temple in town and was rescued from there, so we’re sure that if she’s rehomed, she will gradually get used to things with time.

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MOCCHI
Mocchi doesn’t know anything about the real world because she has been living at ARK since she was a puppy. She gets along with other dogs at ARK and always enjoys walking even with volunteers that she has just met for the first time. But when she’s introduced to an adopter, she acts like a coward, so she’s not been rehomed yet. She’s only been in a car only twice: when she was rescued, and when she went to the vet to be spayed. When Mocchi went on a field trip, she whimpered and was restless in the car, and then she whimpered in town. Her tail was down all the time, and she couldn’t eat any of the cheese or salami, even though she usually loves eating... But the more she goes on field trips, the more her behavior is changing. Now she’s getting used to being in town, will eat snacks and is calm when she’s in the car.

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SAKURA
Excuse us: we’re washing our hair! Sakura is small and nicely portable, she looks indifferent to whatever’s going on around her and never seems afraid of strangers. But, surprisingly, she is a chicken when it comes to meeting potential adopters. She is the type who loses the chance by doing things like barking at important moments. Maybe she’s friendly at ARK, but gets nervous when her environment changes…? We took her on a field trip, but it seems that we worried a bit too much over nothing. She was relaxed, ate loads of snacks and enjoyed her short trip. We only found this out because we took her out of ARK, so it was a great experience for her.
We will keep trying as hard as possible to help our dogs overcome their difficulties, because we hope that as many as possible of them will find happiness as soon as possible!!





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