How do we know that what we teach our children has been learned?
We have recently learned that three former Project POOCH youths are applying what they learned about dogs while incarcerated to help save dogs at a local animal shelter. The youth are no longer incarcerated; go to the local shelter and work with some of the hard-to-adopt dogs by using humane methods of training so the dogs have a better chance of being adopted. They first socialize and bond with the dogs before starting positive reinforcement training. Once the dogs are trained to be Canine Good Citizens, they will be adopted into permanent homes.
The youth work with these dogs to become better pets, while they continue to work on their social skills and to become productive citizens of their communities!
This evidence is the proof that the youths learned what they were taught in Project POOCH!!
Eighty-eight cents of every dollar donated goes to our program and making it possible to continue to provide valuable skills to the youth and provide adoptable dogs to the community that we serve.
Project POOCH is often asked how we teach responsibility, patience, and compassion for all life to the youth in our program?
Responsibility begins with youths walking their dogs two times a day, supervising outdoor play time, training their dogs, and taking care of each dog's basic needs like food, fresh water, clean bedding, bathing and grooming. Responsibility also entails organizing dog training equipment, maintaining dog progress reports, and completing assigned tasks.
Patience with a dog teaches youth the importance of being patient with themselves. Since we use only humane training methods and high value treats, some dogs may not be into food. It is up to the youths to be patient and figure out what motivates each particular dog they are training.
While walking back to their living units, POOCH youths noticed a crow with an injured leg. They insisted that we delay walking back for lunch on their living units so that they could help the injured crow. One of the youth took off his jacket and threw it over the crow to keep it still so that the bird could be put in a dog carrier and taken to the local veterinarian. The bird survived and was returned to campus where the youth nursed it back to health. I had just witnessed compassion in action.
It is our hope that the lessons the youth learn in Project POOCH not only teach them to compassionately care for animals; but also how to care for and raise their own children using positive methods.
For 18 years, Project POOCH (Positive Opportunities--Obvious Change with Hounds) has paired incarcerated young males with dogs from shelters. The mission of Project POOCH is to teach: responsibility, patience, and compassion for all life.
The youth work with their dogs daily teaching positive reinforcement so that the dogs can pass the Canine Good Citizen test before being adopted out to the public. In the process, the youth learn about themselves and how to be good citizens when they return to society.
Over the years, Project POOCH has helped youth transition from incarceration back into everyday life and aided in helping them become responsible, active members within their communities. We are proud to say that a former POOCH youth joined the military and is now serving his country in Kuwait. He says: "POOCH was truly a life changer for me, thank you for the support over the years.”
Teaching youth to take care of, and work with the shelter dogs, provides both dog and human with a positive experience; in some cases the first time either might have experienced unconditional love! As a result of this pairing we find that the feeling of unconditional love stays with the youth when they leave behind a life of incarceration. Another former youth frequently asks for a visit from the dog he trained while in the POOCH program.
A random study on 100 of our former youth showed zero recidivism. Our mission is to save ONE dog and ONE youth at a time!!! With patience and compassion we will continue working with both in the years to come!!