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Animal enrichment is always something that weighs heavily on the minds of everyone involved with animal rescue. Sure, we take care of all their physical needs – food, water, shelter, exercise and vet care – but everyone knows there is more to caring for an animal than that. Via our enrichment programs, IMHS attempts to provide both mental and physical stimulation, which in turn increases the behavioral wellness of our animals. The better the behavior, the more adoptable the animal will be, pure and simple. That’s why IMHS is happy to announce we’ve initiated an Agility Enrichment Program for our dogs.

Why dog agility? WHY NOT?! According to Jessica Hein, Certified Dog Trainer of Sit.Stay.Fetch! Dog Training and Behavior, “Agility training is a great way to bond with your dog. It combines physical exercise and mental enrichment, builds confidence, and teaches focus and communication skills.” Although some folks might think training the shelter dogs, most of whom aren’t likely to become competitors at agility isn’t worth the effort. Jessica says “It doesn't matter if a dog is good at agility. It has benefits for all dogs. Whether it's just getting out for some exercise, learning to perform a new task, or bonding with their human teammate.” And another added benefit…a tired dog is a happy dog!

In case you haven’t been to the shelter, it’s tiny, and there is absolutely no room to build or use any type of agility equipment. Lucky for us that Bob and Karen Burden, mom and dad to a number of their own rescue dogs, moved to Pine, CO and didn’t have any horses that needed their large arena. After volunteering with IMHS, they realized the arena might serve some purpose for the shelter animals, and, after discussion with staff, donated the use of the arena to IMHS for dog enrichment. According to Karen, they feel “lucky to be able to give back…”, and the animals at IMHS are so lucky to be the benefactors!

Our agility course was built at no cost to the shelter! Using recycled PVC donated by Living Water Pump Service Company in Pine, and additional parts donated by both Moore Lumber in Pine and Aspen Park Hardware, John Jasek (adopter of an IMHS dog) built us some of the equipment. Those pieces, along with those donated by Jessica Hein have given us a great start on the course.

Would you like to come see the arena for yourselves? You can! We’ll be having a short agility demo as part of our CauseForPaws event on August 26th. Again, we have to thank the Burden’s who are letting us use the arena for our hoedown – it’s going to be a blast!

Music, wine and growler pulls, line dancing and kids games, along with a chance to get to know the animal lovers in the community. Get your tickets now at the shelter, any of our summer events, or online at our website.

We can’t wait to see you there!

And please check out our you tube video of Jacob and Max, these guys are learning!!!

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