Home is a special place.
Nothing compares to the sense of comfort and serenity it offers.
Unfortunately, for tens of thousands of shelter dogs, "home" is concrete floors, harsh fluorescent lighting, and nonstop noise. Loud, cramped, and stressful, the shelter environment doesn't offer its residents much respite from the constant chaos.
The Toledo Area Humane Society developed the "Real Life Room," a special space modeled after the home environment.
"We basically took an office here and turned it into a living room...We have a recliner, a rug, some pillows and a TV. One of the best things is the lamp we put in there. That means we can turn off the fluorescent lights and have more soothing lighting in the room," a shelter staff member told The Dodo.
The Real Life Room offers dogs a temporary escape from life in the kennels, and provides shelter workers with a better idea of how individual dogs will adjust to home life if and when they are adopted.
"It gives the dogs a nice break from being in the kennels, where it's noisy and they don't have very much space. They can go in there and relax by themselves or with a volunteer...We get a better picture of how these dogs will actually act in a home. That gives us a better sense of the type of personality the dog has," said the staffer.
Several other animal shelters have instituted this type of simulation room, and the results have been promising.
In the two weeks since the Toledo Area Humane Society created and began using the Real Life Room, several users have already found their forever homes.
According to a shelter staffer, "We've had several animals that had just been in there, then got adopted shortly after walking out...It's amazing. We're so happy to have this room."
Hopefully, more and more animal shelters will follow suit and build their own forever home simulation rooms.
In the meantime, if you're thinking of adding a four-legged family member to your pack, adopt, don't shop. Adoption saves lives.
All photos courtesy of the Toledo Area Humane Society via The Dodo.