July 20, 2012

Enrichment: Keno and Micah

We are working on this concept called shelter enrichment; making improvements in the lives of Assisi dogs while in our care. In this blog, we will be following the story of 2 dogs recently transferred to us -  where they came from, what they learn, what we learn, and how we progress together.

The words and the photographs are from Hany Hosny, and we know you will love his narrative and images as much as we do; enjoy!


Every dog has a story. Shelter dogs’ stories tend to have at least a little bit of drama in them. Their plot lines tend to revolve around reaching a very low point in life, replete with a loss of family, loss of a place to call home, loss of confidence, and a loss of purpose.

Let’s be real honest. There are very few places that are less beneficial for a dog than a shelter. Shelters are intensely over stimulating and they tend to make it very hard on the dog’s behavioral, mental, and emotional health.

Every now and then, though, we encounter a dog for whom a shelter is actually better than the alternative that was being experienced before arrival to Angels of Assisi. Keno and Micah are a case in point.

These sweet and beautiful boys hail from south of the state line where they were pulled out of a very bad situation in which human greed trumped any sense of concern for Keno and Micha’s physical and emotional needs. Thanks to some nifty networking between ourselves and two heavyweights in the pit bull advocacy world, Keno and Micah are just one step away from having a place to call home.

Animal Farm Foundation (the prolifically influential organization that works tirelessly to advocate for pit bulls) and Ring Dog Rescue (the outstanding pit bull rescue group in Richmond) contacted Angels of Assisi as time began to run short for Keno and Micah. Having been privy to the temperament evaluations that were done on both dogs shortly after being removed from their previous circumstance, we happily offered to shelter them.

In doing so, we know there’s still lots of work that lies ahead. Keno and Micah will need extra love and attention to prepare them for life in a more compassionate world. They’ll need to build confidence. They’ll need to learn that bonding with humans is an investment worth making. They’ll need to learn how to navigate simple structures like stairs. They’ll be learning leash manners. And so on and so forth.

In a nutshell, they will be getting what all dogs and cats should be getting in a shelter environment : enrichment.

Shelter enrichment is about animals’ having their social and physical needs met. For dogs like Keno and Micah, it’s about not living in the extreme zones that dogs are so often trapped in : high arousal and depression.

In recent months, we have begun paying more attention to the idea of a more carefully developed enrichment program as a right and necessity that all cats and dogs at Angels of Assisi should benefit from.

Please be sure to keep up with Keno and Micah to witness their progress. Through them, we will share the successes and challenges we experience as we share the details of what goes into shelter enrichment and turning lives around.

Learn and grow all you can; serve and befriend all you can; enrich and inspire all you can.
~ William Arthur Ward



  1. AnonymousJuly 24, 2012

    What beautiful photos of such wonderful animals!!! Their smiles just make me laugh!!!! You can see their spirits through the photos! Blessings to all who love, advocate, protect and stand with those animals who have been hurt and abandoned.

  2. Shelter enrichment is a terrific idea and I look forward to reading more about your work. Thank you for caring so much about these animals.