Meet Rusty—a handsome boy with the odds against him. He came to Project POOCH, Inc.®, from another shelter where not much was known about him because he was a stray. He had been there two months when Project POOCH found him. This sweet and friendly guy wasn’t attracting potential adopters—neither at the shelter where we found him nor at Project POOCH.
That’s where our unique program comes in!
It affords the dogs, and the youth, the promise of a better future. At Project POOCH, we have no time limits on how long a dog stays with us. We’re in it for the long haul, keeping hope alive, and remaining committed to each dog and youth in our program.
We NEVER give up hope that a brighter future is just around the corner.
Our mission is to help build that brighter future. Every day, the dogs and youth in our program work together, forge a bond, and help each other find their way to happier futures.
The youth at MacLaren are dedicated to the dogs, like Rusty, in their care. To hear the youth talk about the dogs and the transformation in their own lives will make your heart skip a beat. They understand that while Project POOCH has given them a chance to better their lives, they in turn, have been entrusted to do the same for dogs like Rusty.
It took over 3 years for Rusty to find his forever family. Rusty loved people, but not cats or other small furry creatures. Each day at Project POOCH, Rusty was fed, walked, socialized, trained, and most of all, LOVED. He went on several home visits to see if he was the right dog for the potential adopters, but there was always a furry creature around the corner so he was returned to Project POOCH. Rusty’s lucky break came after 3 years in Project POOCH. Happily, he is now in his forever home!
Project POOCH, Inc., provides a special opportunity for dogs and youth to heal each other; to remind each other compassion, kindness, respect, and unconditional love do exist and that they deserve all this and more.
As one person wrote us:
I was inspired and amazed by the hard work and dedication. I saw many wonderful talents – but most of all, I saw the kind-heartedness of young men who have at their core the love to heal themselves and inspire others.
Thank you for your support! Your gifts give so much more than you can imagine, and have a lifelong impact on all those touched by Project POOCH, Inc.’s program.
Project POOCH - partnering unwanted dogs with troubled adolescent males was founded 20 years ago.
Pairing with unwanted shelter dogs teaches troubled adolescents trust, responsibility, and respect for all living things. These qualities are obvious in all the adolescents who have worked in the program.
The adolescents take care of and train the shelter dogs until a permanent home can be found. This is a way for the adolescents to give back to society and show that they can have a positive affect on those around them. A study of 100 adolescents from the program showed none had returned to a life of crime once released from corrections.
Caring for and bonding with the dogs also teaches valuable parenting skills. Many adolescents have never experienced living in a home where trust, positive parenting and kindness prevailed. As a result of being in the program, the adolescents learn social skills as well as other important communication skills that will help in their work lives and careers. Many of the former program participants now are now attending college or have received degrees and hold steady jobs.
Poor litte Oscar. When animal control picked him up, he looked more like a miniature sheep dog than a poodle mix. His hair had grown over his eyes clear down to his nose. He was so matted he looked more like a Brillo pad than a dog. When he arrived at POOCH, every single item on his evaluation form was marked "unknown."
Danny, one of the more experienced youth, was confident he could work with Oscar successfully. His first task was to groom him. Oscar had to be shaved almost down to bare skin. Danny asked if we could get him a sweater, and Oscar wore that sweater day and night until his hair had grown back.
While Danny had trained more than 12 dogs, Oscar turned out be more of a challenge than he expected. Oscar absolutely hated to be groomed. He particularly didn't like his ears, mouth or feet touched. He wasn't very cute with very little hair and tear-stained eyes, but Danny patiently worked on the problem areas.
Fortunately, Danny discovered that Oscar would do almost anything for a treat. He also responded beautifully to praise, and soon became quite a show off. Despite his beauty-challenged problem, Oscar soon became a Project POOCH favorite. A fast learner and a people pleaser, he mastered tricks quickly. He craved interaction with people and cuddled up next to anyone sitting on the sofa. However, if a stranger came in, Oscar jumped off the sofa and charged them, which meant Danny had to work on this issue.
When people came to consider dogs for adoption, Oscar might as well have been invisible. He was just too ugly. He stayed month after month, learning new tricks and being the companion of his trainer and others in POOCH.
After eight long months, a couple decided to adopt Oscar. Although Danny wanted Oscar to find his forever home, he was sad when Oscar had to leave. Danny encouraged the adopters to bring Oscar back for regular grooming and anny additional training he might need. POOCH offers lifetime training for our dogs, which provides an opportunity for the youth to know that their dog is in a loving home, much like the one they wish for themselves.
Danny was thrilled when the adopters sent an email: "Oscar's been doing great. We've found he'll do almost anything for a taste of peanut butter. He expects to be treated like the king he is. He goes on frequent walks and gets pushed around in a cart at the building supply store. He's the happiest dog in the world and gets many compliments on how well behaved and handsome he is. I'm so gald he knows he's not "just a dog" and that he is family. I cannot begin to describe how thankful we are to have him as part of our family."
*Youth name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.