Famous Fido Rescue and Adoption Alliance is a unique organization. Unlike typical rescues that direct people to high-kill shelters when they are relinquishing a dog, FFRAA does not turn away any dogs!
The dogs come from people who don't want their dog, people who can't care for their dog, or from people who find dogs wandering on the street. And regardless of their age or condition, the dogs are placed in foster care whenever possible or they are temporarily homed at the FFRAA facility where they are given veterinary care, groomed and have their pictures posted on social media sites in the hopes of finding their perfect home.
Like most dogs who are homeless, the dogs that come to Famous Fido Rescue are traumatized. They have lost their person, their sense of security and routine. Often times, they've been battered, abused or poorly socialized and are therefore terrified of people and or other dogs!
So the questions are, how does one go about helping these dogs recover from their ordeal? Moreover how do we prevent the next home from relinquishing the dog again?
The answers to those questions were the inspiration for the Go Rescue program where dog-loving volunteers sponsor a dog throughout the program and learn how to rehabilitate and train them. Under the guidance of positive and certified dog trainer, Fran Berry, the volunteers using only gentle methods, learn how to condition the dogs so they become comfortable around people; they learn how to teach the dogs a common language using a clicker and sign-language and ultimately, they teach the prospective adoptive parent how to communicate in this language, so the humans and hounds make a smooth transition into the new home environment. The pet-parent is then able to use the program for support as well as more training.
The program started with a handful of very dedicated volunteers in Summer 2013 and in a short time, the volunteer pool has continued to grow.
Each volunteer sponsors a FFRAA dog through a 5 week series and at the end can continue with the same dog or work with another dog for another 5 weeks.
Patti: Presently, I am working with Coco. She is a sweet little dog. She makes great eye contact and attends to me pretty well. She does not yet follow any formal commands, such as sit, down, etc. However, she is learning to trust and have fun and relax. Just last week, she rolled over for a belly rub which can be a huge deal for a dog who has never known love. I see the light in her eyes brightening up every week and I have high hopes for this little girl. She is beginning to follow me. She is becoming less reactive to other dogs and she is becoming less distracted by other things going on around her and is, instead, becoming much more focused on me.
There is no “cookie-cutter recipe” for how to work with these dogs. Rather, it is important to just take the dog as he or she is and build on that. There is no set order for how to learn things. If the dog doesn't want to sit but, instead, is willing to “dance” or “spin” on command, then that is the behavior to build on. The rest may (or may not) come in time. However, the one thing I am sure of is that the dog will come to realize that not every one will abuse them and that is it ok to trust again and have fun being a dog.
I also think that it is important to get a commitment out of potential adopters that they attend some of our Tuesday night classes. In doing so, they can learn how we have been working with the dogs so as to maintain consistency in the handling and training of the dogs.
Tina: I think the biggest change is that we can see that Pelican has the ability to bond if someone is prepared to go slow and be patient with him. One of the reasons he has proved difficult to home has been because he'll growl or snap when he meets potential adopters. He doesn't know they're potential adopters! To him they're just strangers! However, we've seen how bonded and comfortable he has become with me and also how relaxed and friendly (especially if there's chicken involved) he is with people he sees on a regular basis.
He learns very quickly and is extremely well behaved in class. This dog is not untrainable and I feel he will improve leaps and bounds once in a regular home environment with a patient owner, where he feels safe. When I met Peli he looked nervous whenever he was touched. Now he rolls over for belly rubs at every opportunity.
Alexis: I'm Valentina from Chile and I'm a Dog Training student. I volunteer at Famous Fido because I want to help rescue dogs to find loving homes by teaching them good manners using positive reinforcement training, so they become more adoptable and learn the skills they need to live with their new families.
I've been working with Geno just for 3 weeks and I can already see a huge difference, he went from being all over the place, running around and not paying attention, to be really focused, calm and responsive. He is a fast learner and loves training!
Chris: I started volunteering at Famous Fido after I adopted 3 fabulous cats from the rescue. I saw the basic manners class post on Facebook and thought it was just what these dogs needed. It gives them a chance to get out of their cages, get used to new people and places. Both Macho ( now adopted) and Wilbur started out very shy/scared/ nervous. In a few short weeks they were having fun, wagging their tails, and learning to trust. Whether they learn any commands, or not, a calm trusting dog will be more adoptable. So, when Wilbur's person comes for him, he will be ready!
Valentina: My name is Alexis Hamm and I am the Owner of Pawlosophy, a dog walking and pet sitting company that services Chicago and the north suburbs. I am currently studying to become a dog trainer and I apprentice at the School of Dog Training at Anti Cruelty Society in downtown Chicago.
I became connected with Famous Fido rescue though a trainer/friend, Fran Berry. Fran did a wonderful thing starting these classes for rescue dogs and it gives me an opportunity to practice the skills I have been learning. I have been involved with various animals rescues for the past 22 years and I know first hand the need these dogs have to have an outlet outside of the shelter environment. Working with these dogs is very important not only to provide them with an outlet but also to help teach them basic skills that make them more adoptable. Many of us that do rescue work know that many dogs are relinquished or returned to shelters because they lack basic obedience training and manners.
It is a pleasure to be involved in such worth while program that address the number one issue for adoption returns. I look forward to a long relationship with Famous Fido Rescue and Go Fido Good Fido. Some members of my staff and even clients have also inquired about joining as volunteers!
Tate: I enjoy working with Famous Fido because it's great to see how such a small amount of my time means the world to an animal without a forever home. Since I began working with Mickey, he has shown improvement with making eye contact and impulse control. He enjoys learning and I enjoy training him, too.
Martha: I have been working with Dora, the approximately 5 year old Carin Terrier, and taking her to our Tuesday evening Positive Reinforcement Basic Manners Class since late summer of 2013.
Dora was rescued in late 2012 by Famous Fido Rescue from the Chicago City Shelter after she was confiscated from her former owner. Famous Fido Rescue had to get special permission from the director of the shelter in order to save her life. When Dora was initially rescued, she was extremely reactive, fearful, and afraid of being touched and handled. Slowly, with lots of time, love, and high quality food, Dora began to respond positively to her immediate care givers. She was still very fearful of strangers and reactive to other dogs.
Dora and I started attending class on a regular basis. Dora has learned so much and has come so far since our first session. She has learned eye contact, recall, touch, sit, and has almost mastered down. Dora also enjoys playing the shell game and another game in which she sits in a box and gives total eye contact. She enjoys these fun games that stimulate her mind. Dora has learned to meet and greet with the other dog advocates and trainers that attend class, and she lights up like a fire fly when they stop to say hello and offer her a treat and a pet. Dora has also learned to socialize with many other dogs at the rescue. She is rarely reactive now when she sees a new dog.
Since starting class, I notice a big difference in Dora's comfort level in meeting new people, potential adopters, and their canine companions. Dora is now an extremely affectionate and outgoing girl. He solicitation skills have done almost a 360 degree turn for the better. She even had another new breakthrough with me last week. She actually allowed me to wipe her butt. I call this a breakthrough because this is still one of the things we consider a fear trigger for Dora. Sometimes week to week, it is hard to notice major developments. However, looking back to when we started, it is almost like a have a different dog in many ways.
When someone wants to adopt a Famous Fido dog, they can work with the volunteertrainer to learn about the dog, and once they complete the adoption process, they can enroll in classes for additional training and bonding.
There are many success stories that have come out of the Go Rescue program; our Sammy is the most recent. Here are a few words from his volunteer-trainer, Jacqueline and his new pet-parents, John and Char:
Jacqueline: Sammy, the terrier with the floppy ear (I nicknamed him VanGogh...), was a non-stop barker when we first met. I brought him to our training class in a carrying crate. Bark, bark, bark at any and everything, so much that he was a disruption to the class.
When he barked, I would take him out of the classroom into the hallway and reward him when he was quiet. It took at least two sessions for him to remain in the classroom for 98% of the class time. For the 4th and 5th sessions, I walked him on leash from Famous Fido to our classroom, a distance of 4-5 blocks. The exercise seemed to do him good, and he was able to focus more during class.
Gradually, he learned to sit on command and know that he would be rewarded for eye contact. By the 4th and 5th sessions, he was progressing with “down” and loose-leash walking.
One of the most amazing transformations occurred in his ability to sit still! Near the end of the 4th session, he lay down on the towel I brought him. He seemed to enjoy the calm and quiet and the gentle petting after his hard training work. He continued this behavior through our last class--lying quietly on the towel at the end of the class and getting petted.
Sammy apparently had been returned after having been adopted out for a long time, and when he returned, he had the floppy ear. Whatever happened to Sammy does not prevent him from appreciating rewards, exercise and affection.
Sammy's new pet-parents, John & Char: Sammy, our rat terrier, is a dream dog--affectionate, smart, playful, companionable, handsome, and articulate (in his own canine fashion). Although he's been with us since only noon, yesterday, he looks at home here as much as Char and I. We've taken three long walks, several car rides, and one visit for a walk with his cousin Myles, which both dogs enjoyed. Last night the three of us slept in the same bed. Sammy enjoyed the bed so much I had to encourage him to get up this morning. On Tuesday night Sammy and I are going to one of the workshops he'd been attending, thanks to Gloria, Patti, and Famous Fido.
We suspected that if we found the right dog, we'd experience boundless happiness. Well, we found him.
Would you like to participate? There are so many ways to get involved with the Go Rescue program:
Volunteer: We are always looking for student-trainers, positive reinforcement trainers or dog-lovers who want to learn about training.
Financial sponsor: If you don't have the time, but want to be a financial sponsor, we'll send you updates on your trainer and their rescue dog.
Adoption training: The Go Rescue program gives continued support by answering behavioral questions; helping you make a smooth transition with your new dog, and giving you classroom time with your dog's volunteertrainer.
And to continue your dog's education, we offer a variety of packages for inhome training, group classes and activities for you and your dog through our alliance-partner Fran Berry of GofidoGoodFido. Please visit GofidoGoodFido or call 773-784-8474 and she'll be happy to assist you.
Remember: Shelter-Dogs are not born; they're created. Our mission is to prevent that cycle through education!
Adoptions are by appointment
Monday - Saturday 12pm to 6pm.
Then call us about the dog or cat
you are interested in and we will make
an appointment for a meet and greet
at a time that is convenient for you.
Advocate for a Famous Fido Rescue dog.
Each dog needs a daily plan for their well being.
If you see a special dog and feel you want to do that little extra to help that special one find a new home.
You can advocate for them by telling friends, family, posting image and stories on your face book and spread the word.
Items can be droped off 10am - 7pm Mon - Sat. Parking in rear of building. Go through the alley in the middle of the Walgreens parking lot. Our parking lot is the first one on your left.
Come through the back door.
You can really make a diffrence in a
dog or cats life. Lets work together so
no dog or cat ever sees a shelter.
Executive Director and Founder
Gloria P. Lissner
Adoption - Development Director
Martha J. Hack