The kiddos may be out of school for the summer, but the learning never stops here at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Multiple adoptable dogs have recently been ‘enrolled’ in our revamped Phideaux University program, a comprehensive enrichment program designed to increase adoption rates and dramatically improve the standard of living for our dogs. As a shelter with a high save rate, this is a concern as we see animals in our care for prolonged periods of time. It is our responsibility to see that they have a life worth living while inside the shelter and have every opportunity for success in a permanent home.
With the incredible help of our dedicated, volunteer ‘professors,’ Phideaux University works closely with dogs that need that little bit of extra ‘tutoring’ before finding their forever home. Our pups start with their undergraduate ‘Petiquette’ degree, where they learn basic manners like ‘sit,’ ‘off,’ and ‘relax,’ before moving on to their Master’s ‘Pet-degree.’ To receive a Master’s in ‘Petiquette,’ our volunteers teach our dogs to ‘wait’ for food and for the door. Ultimately, our Phideaux University pups will earn their PhD, or ‘Permanently Homed Dog,’ when they’re finally adopted into a loving home.
Though finding homes for our adoptable animals is always our number one priority, the Phideaux University program entails (pun intended) three other important objectives. Our first priority is the dog’s wellbeing, including providing humane living quarters and reducing each dog’s average stay in our shelter through training and socialization. Reducing the length of stay will allow us to re-home a greater number of dogs.
Our second objective is to decrease our returns to the shelter. We know almost all of the dogs returned are brought back due to behavioral issues. We fear others may become ‘yard dogs’ for the same reason.
Last but not least, we want to see our volunteers happy! We believe in adequately training volunteers, providing a fun atmosphere in which volunteers can contribute, and recognizing their accomplishments and contributions to the program.
Currently, four of our amazing dogs are a part of our Phideaux University program and hope to receive their PhD soon by being adopted
Boosie was an owner surrender in September 2018. He is a one-and-a-half-year-old mixed breed that we have nicknamed the “Action Hero,” like Tom Cruise, but cuter and furrier. He loves to play no matter what, but also loves belly rubs, naps and his daily treat. This sixty-pound lover enjoys the company of humans and will make his adopter a loyal companion. A recent graduate of Phideaux University with an undergraduate degree in ‘Petiquette,’ Boosie knows how to ‘sit,’ ‘off,’ ‘relax,’ and is currently learning ‘wait’ for his Master’s.
Flapjack was part of an unwanted litter that was surrendered to the shelter in October 2016. This adorable, 2-year-old lab mix has earned his nickname “Star Athlete.” Flapjack loves all kinds of doggy sports, especially if they involve a tennis ball. He adores fetching, running, playing tag and hiking. Though he enjoys the outdoors, he equally enjoys having a human companion to call his own, playing in the backyard and getting belly rubs. Don’t let his time spent in the shelter scare you away, he simply hasn’t found his forever person! Enrolled in Phideaux University, Flapjack is on track to graduate with honors and knows ‘sit’ and ‘off,’ and is working on ‘relax.’
You may have seen Caramel on our Facebook page with her big bows and pearl necklaces, which is exactly why we have nicknamed this sweet girl our resident “Southern Belle.” This two-year-old mixed breed came to the SPCA Albrecht Center as a stray in December 2018. She is a gentle lady that loves to walk by your side, play a game of fetch or lend a floppy ear as you cuddle on the couch and tell her about your day. She is eager to learn and show off everything she’s learned in Phideaux University and can’t wait to finally earn her PhD!
We took in Cruella as a stray in March of this year. Don’t let her name fool you; Cruella is a one-year-old mixed breed with a gentle, kind personality, resulting in her nickname “Happy Girl.” She simply earned her name from her favorite movie, “101 Dalmatians,” and her Dalmatian-like spots. This sweet pup is sure to make the ultimate best friend. Cruella enjoys cuddling on the couch or in your lap, and loves to hear her human talk to her. She even responds with adorable looks and head-tilts. As a recent Phideaux student, Cruella is working hard to earn her degree and has already learned ‘sit,’ ‘off’ and ‘relax,’ and is well on her way to learning ‘wait.’
Despite their straight-A’s in Phideaux and incredible personalities, these four ‘students’ are still patiently waiting for their forever home. If you are able to open your homes and hearts and adopt, please consider meeting one of our amazing Phideaux University pups. They’ve been working hard for their ‘Pet-degree’ and can’t wait to win you over with all they’ve learned.
You can visit our Phideaux dogs, and other adoptable pets, at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare – 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken – Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm.
If you are unable to adopt, we’d be thrilled to welcome you to our volunteer team. Though becoming a Phideaux ‘professor’ takes some extra training, the time spent is extra rewarding. You can find information about all of our volunteer opportunities online at LetLoveLive.org/Volunteer.
Claire R. Grimes is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Development Director. She is an Aiken native, who graduated from College of Charleston and interned with Charleston Animal Society. She is excited to be working in animal welfare in her hometown and is proud of the community efforts to better the lives of Aiken’s animals. Her family includes her husband, Logan, an SPCA adopted black lab, Ozzy, an SPCA adopted Siamese mix, Luna, and Claire’s first love, Anakin, a 17-pound rescued Maine Coon mix.