Orphans' new scholarship dog program: A smart start to canine training

  • Abby Conlon and her pet, Nala, participated in the Scholarship Dog Program, provided by Orphans of the Storm, Deerfield, IL.  It is a pilot program designed to make the transition to home much easier for both the pets and their new owners.Family of Abby Conlon

    Abby Conlon and her pet, Nala, participated in the Scholarship Dog Program, provided by Orphans of the Storm, Deerfield, IL. It is a pilot program designed to make the transition to home much easier for both the pets and their new owners.Family of Abby Conlon

Updated 10/3/2022 9:38 AM

What dog owner couldn't benefit from free training sessions for their new pet? What dog wouldn't welcome the opportunity to have a smart start in their new home?

The staff at Orphans of the Storm (OOTS), animal shelter in Deerfield, believe their new "Scholarship Dog Program" will make the transition to home much easier for both the pets and their new owners. It has been made possible through the generous contribution of an anonymous donor.


"The Scholarship Dog Program" is a program we are currently piloting to better support adopters and our longer-stay dogs by providing sponsored training sessions with reputable trainers," said Kristen Tump, shelter manager and event coordinator for Orphans of the Storm. "Some of the 21 dogs in the program, who have been sheltered for three months or longer, also come with a $200 sponsored adoption fee, making it only $50 to adopt them."

Tump points out, "This program was established to not only provide more support to families welcoming a new dog into their home, but to highlight our dogs that are constantly overlooked and have waited longer than most to find their forever home."

OOTS Staff Answers Your Questions: Scholarship Dog Program

Tump addressed several questions to help dog adopters know more about the new pilot program.

What benefit does it provide the individual and family adopting a dog?

Training with a new dog has so many benefits. It's such an important part of any dog's life. Not only does it build a lasting relationship between the dog and their new family, but it can also:

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• Provide confidence building for the dog

• Providing mental and physical stimulation for the dog

• Teach the dog life skills

• Help show your dog how to avoid conflict

• Help you better understand your dog

• Ensure your dog's safety

• And it can be fun

What can you tell me about the pets available for adoption in the program?

The dogs currently available for this program are those that have been at the shelter for 3 months or longer. There's nothing "wrong" with these dogs. Some of them just might need a little help navigating the world around them.

Regardless, any dog that has been at the shelter, especially for an extended period of time, should have support when entering a new home. You can ask any staff member or volunteer about these dogs- but just be ready for their face to light up with joy because they'e so excited to tell you all the great things about them. As of now, there are 21 dogs in the program.


Who provides the training of my new pet?

The sponsored training sessions are through two of our partners, GoodPup and Wise Dogs.

GoodPup: GoodPup training is one-on-one, at-home, on your schedule, with trainers ready to help 24/7. They provide online, private training with certified trainers to teach basic cues and advanced behavior on topics like crate training, barking, begging, and jumping. The end result: you will have a happier, more well-behaved dog.

Wise Dogs: Own and operated by Kirsten Watry, Wise Dogs specializes in behavior modification and functional obedience to help you live a better life with your dog. Kirsten can help you with things such as reactivity on walks, leash manners, off-leash training, confidence building, crate training, puppy training, and much more! She trains dogs in Chicago and surrounding areas.

Are there any eligibility requirements?

The only restrictions would be if the dog is through Kirsten at Wise Dogs, you must be in the Chicago or the surrounding areas. If the dog is through GoodPup, you must register within 30 days of adoption.

One New Pet Adopter's Experience: Meet Abby Conlon and Nala

"Every dog needs dog training," said Abby Conlon, a Buffalo Grove resident and a first-time dog owner, who recently adopted Nala from Orphans of the Storm.

"I initially thought that Nala needed training because she was deaf, but now, I realize that every dog owner can benefit from free training sessions. It is incredibly helpful to have someone come into your home, observe your dog's behavior and give you advice about behavioral issues," Conlon explained.

Abby Conlon Shares: What Potential Dog Adopters Need to Know

Based on her personal experience, Conlon has many insights for those interested in learning more about the Scholarship Dog Program.

How did you learn of the Scholarship Dog Program?

When I adopted Nala from Orphans of the Storm, they told me that because Nala was deaf, I would receive 3 sponsored training sessions to learn deaf dog hand signals and gestures.

How did you go about selecting your pet, Nala, and what role did OOTS staff play in how you found Nala?

I looked at the Orphans of the Storm website before visiting in person https://orphansofthestorm.org/ and Nala's beautiful smile caught my attention right away. I loved that she was a bulldog, and that she seemed very sweet and spunky.

When I arrived at the facility for the first time, I got to meet Nala in person, and Isabel, one of the staff members, gave me a lot of helpful information about Nala's behaviors and personality traits.

Tell us something about Nala--breed or mix, gender, temperament, affection, other traits?

Nala is a female bulldog/pit bull mix, we think. She is a sweetheart. She is very spunky, silly and stubborn at times. She loves to explore the outdoors and chew on her bones or her bed. She's pretty sedentary most of the day, but every now and again, she gets a lot of energy and loves to run around the house doing the zoomies.

What has been the greatest advantage of the Scholarship Dog Program in welcoming your pet into your home?

The training sessions have helped me immensely with Nala! Nala was extremely overexcited and overstimulated when she first arrived at my house, and she would jump up on people all the time or playfully nip at us to get attention.

She still has moments of over excitement, but she has improved tremendously over the past 2 months, thanks to the sponsored dog training sessions. I've never owned a dog before, so I was very worried about taking care of Nala and helping her adapt to my home.

It's been amazing to have a dog trainer come into my home and give me advice specific to Nala and observe her behavior improve over time.

What do you recommend to others considering the program?

My family and I are all so incredibly thankful to Kirsten from Wise Dogs, Nala's dog trainer, for all of her help and guidance these past 2 months. It's been incredible to see how much calmer and kinder Nala has become since first arriving in our home.

I would not feel so confident and excited about having friends and family over to our house to see and play with Nala if it weren't for Kirsten's excellent training tips!

How can I arrange to visit the pets and will OOTS staff guide me?

Walk-ins are welcome! OOTS has a wonderful team of adoption counselors who can help match you with someone that will be a great fit for you and your family. They will work with you every step of the way to ensure you feel supported. We are open Wednesday-Friday from 12pm-4pm and Saturday-Sunday from 12pm-5pm.

Contact: Kristen Tump, Shelter Manager and Event Coordinator

Phone: 847-945-0235. Email: kristen@orphansofthestorm.org. Visit: https://orphansofthestorm.org/

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