Often we share stories of success about POOCH doggie alums who’ve found their forever homes. This time we’d like to share a story about a POOCH youth’s success. This is, after all, our raison d’être! So, it’s with swelled chest and lots of pride we share the story of M.
M. participated in Project POOCH from 2005-2006. It wasn’t the longest a youth has been in our program, but the impact—on dogs and on him—was overwhelming! Project POOCH recently sat down with this now very accomplished young man and learned how Project POOCH affected his life and the path he’s since followed.
If there’s one word to describe M., it’s optimistic.
He has what seems to be a permanent smile on his face. Where he is today as opposed to where he was several years ago certainly gives him ample reason.
During his time at Project POOCH, he worked with and helped adopt out six dogs: Cash, Zeus, Jasper, Max, Sophie, and Emma. It may be a few years since he was in our program, but it took him no time to rattle off these names. His experience and his time with these dogs clearly have left a lasting impression!
His most memorable dog? Emma. She was a very scared dog because she’d been tied up for several months before ultimately finding her way to Project POOCH. The key to her success? Socialization. That’s what this really all boils down to: making friends, learning to trust, and learning to play well with others. M. said he liked that Project POOCH was helping dogs who were like him and the other youth—individuals who’d gotten lost along the way, had slipped through the cracks, and who were in danger of being forgotten by society altogether. He understood where dogs like Emma were coming from. And he related to their plight.
The difference he knew he’d be making inspired him.
M. tried his hand at anything and everything that needed to be done at the kennel, from helping build walkways, to landscaping, electrical, and record keeping. He’s proud of the fact he helped build POOCH’s beautiful meditation garden, a place where the youth can take a moment and reflect in what is otherwise a hectic day.
Today, M. is following a path Project POOCH clearly helped set him on. He’s a dog trainer. Not only that, he’s a trainers’ trainer. He attributes Project POOCH for helping him achieve the success he has enjoyed so far. According to him, Joan Dalton handed him the job application, gave him a Safeway card so he could buy food, bought him clothes for his interview, and set him off to a brighter future. A brighter future he has built indeed!
The youth learn many new things during their time with Project POOCH.
They learn the values of patience, compassion, responsibility, and respect for all life. They also gain real life work experience—training dogs, understanding dog behavior, customer service through working with potential adopters, computer skills, record keeping, and how to be reliable, hardworking employees.
M. took what he learned at Project POOCH and directly applied it to his post release career, one at which he is excelling. M. said it took him half the normal time to complete the trainer’s course because he’d already learned so much at Project POOCH. This is indeed the fulfillment of our mission—youth learning skills at Project POOCH that help them find a job and succeed in life. And in M.’s case, continue to work with the very animals who taught him patience, compassion, and trust: dogs in need of training so they too can have a better life.
We are indeed proud of M.’s success and you should be too! After all, it’s because of your support, youth like M. have stories with a happy ending!
We hope on the upcoming Bonus Day on May 13th, you’ll consider making another life-changing donation to our project, Change the Lives of Troubled Youth & Shelter Dogs, between 6 am and 9 pm Pacific Time so together we can create even more happy endings…. for youth and dogs. ALL gifts will be matched on this special Bonus Day!
As you know, at Project POOCH, Inc., we teach the youth in the program patience, kindness, respect, and compassion for all life. That lesson is not lost on the dogs whose lives they save. One such dog is also making a life-saving difference for pups whose lives hang in the balance….
Fenway is a beloved POOCH alum who visits Project POOCH often. He’s a delightfully energetic and happy dog who hikes with his mom regularly, though he never seems to tire no matter how many miles they log!
Fenway’s future wasn’t always so bright…
…until he was found by Project POOCH.
When our executive director first found Fenway, he was cowering, head down in a corner at an area shelter. She learned he’d been a stray, wandering the streets of a town in Oregon. He was having difficulty being adopted because he was shut down and depressed, but she saw the love and soulfulness in his eyes and knew he’d be a great candidate for our program.
Fenway's confidence grows...
During his stay with us, as he gained his confidence, we realized he was a happy, high energy dog who had difficulty calming down and focusing—behaviors that require patience and time to overcome. The youth worked with Fenway, teaching him his basic commands, helping him to be more focused and calm, and ultimately taking him through the successful completion of his Canine Good Citizen Certification!
We knew, once his mom, a longtime POOCH volunteer, met him, it would be love at first sight! What a great team they make!
Fenway becomes a superhero...
Together, they serve as wonderful ambassadors in the community. So, when his mom told us Fenway had become a doggie blood donor for a local emergency animal hospital, we were not all that surprised, and we were very proud. He’s using everything he learned at Project POOCH about being a well-mannered, loving and trusting pooch, and giving back to other dogs in need. It takes a calm and patient dog to sit for the 30 minutes necessary to donate blood!
There are over a dozen blood group systems recognized for dogs. That makes each doggie blood donor like Fenway even more critical to the success of the hospital’s life-saving efforts.
For the next two years, Fenway and his mom will be making regular visits to donate blood. His life was saved by the staff and youth at Project POOCH, and now he is paying it forward by saving the lives of other pooches.
Fenway is definitely a superhero in our book!
When you support Project POOCH, your gift goes so much farther than the brick and mortar of our facility. Every day the youth make choices that reflect the lessons of compassion and respect they’ve been taught. Every day, they make the choice to make the world a better, safer, more humane place, and help dogs like Fenway do the same. THANK YOU for showing compassion to these youth and dogs who are striving to build better and brighter futures.
We hope you’ll consider making another life-saving gift to our project, Change the Lives of Troubled Youth & Shelter Dogs, on Wednesday, March 18th, between 6 am and 9 pm Pacific Time during GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day. Gifts will be matched at 30% until the $60,000 in matching funds run out.
A few months ago, we shared Rusty’s story of patience, hope, and perseverance. Well, we thought we'd share with you an update we received about his life today so you could see firsthand the life-saving impact of your donations.
As you may remember, Rusty was with us for about three years before he found his forever home through Project POOCH, Inc.® He had some special requirements for his new home since he didn't get along with small animals.
We never gave up on him… …And he kept believing in us.
Today, Rusty is a pampered pooch who is adored by his family. Something we believe - and we know you agree - should be true for EVERY dog.
Rusty is one of the lucky ones YOU helped. Thanks to your generous support, Rusty enjoys yoga with his mom, goes on fun adventures, and just enjoys the happy life.
Rusty no longer has to wonder when his new family will walk through the door and take him home. He is home... and he is loved.
From Rusty’s mom:
“Well, it's been almost a year now that Rob and I have had Rusty in our home. He's doing really well. Thank you for all your hard work!”
THANK YOU for bringing joy to Rusty and his family. THANK YOU for ensuring Project POOCH, Inc.®, will be able to continue to help the youth at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility as they help homeless dogs like Rusty find their forever homes... ...No matter how long it takes.
What a great way to start the new year!
-From the youth, dogs, staff, volunteers, and Board at Project POOCH, Inc.®
This beautiful girl was found wandering the streets as a stray: This beautiful, large (72 pound) Chocolate Lab had been found as a stray in 2007. The animal control driver scooped the Lab up and delivered her to a local Humane Society where she was assessed. She was determined to be one year of age, unspayed, no identification,and in need of treatment for kennel cough. As her health improved, the shelter performed a temperament test and noted: very shy and unsure of strangers. The staff named her Sasha.
Sasha finds her way to Project POOCH and gets a fresh start: A month later, Sasha was transferred to Project POOCH and became known as Lady. She was taken to be spayed, microchipped, vaccinated, and dewormed. She weighed in at 62 pounds.
Lady's Project POOCH handler trained her to pass the Canine Good Citizen test, walked her several times a day, played with her, brushed her teeth every day, and gave her a weekly massage. Lady soon lost her shyness and demonstrated her love of people.
A couple falls in love with Lady: Then a couple came to meet her to consider adoption. They filled out the application and answered the question: Why do you wish to adopt a dog from Project POOCH. "We lost our dog of 14 years together and we are missing the kind of relationship you can have with a dog buddy. We also support the ideals and goals of Project POOCH."
Since home visits are required for our dogs, a day and time was scheduled for Lady to be taken on a car ride 150 miles away in hopes it would be the forever home she deserved. Her handler/trainer gave her a bath followed by a fragrant conditioner before saying goodbye. He had packed Lady's "going home" suitcase with several day’s food, a favorite toy, and one of her blankets. The final touch was a beautiful color coordinated scarf around her neck.
Our executive director was the designated driver and she knew it was often difficult for a dog's handler/trainer to say goodbye so she made a practice of turning away so the youth could have some privacy as he loaded his dog into the vehicle and said his goodbyes.
Two weeks later, a letter from the adopters came to Lady's handler/trainer:
Lady has now been with us for two weeks and after the first two hours, we had fallen in love with her. We thank you for all the training and care you gave her. We take her for a 30-40 minute walk each morning and then a rousing game of fetch. We keep her bedding clean and nice and she doesn't chew it.
When she is in the back yard and spots a squirrel, she goes into the most beautiful stance and very seldom barks which our neighbors appreciate. In the evening we all sit out on the patio so Lady can get affection and listen to us talk about the day.
She has a very attractive quality--she doesn't beg for food. Our goal is to insist that guests respect her good behavior and not wreck her training by giving her food off their plates. Lady would like to help me type on the computer and change my bad spelling but hers is worse. We take breaks every 45 minutes and go outside for a ball game.
Around 8 or 9 at night Lady and I go for another walk. The mild summer evenings are so delightful and to share them with Lady is a wonderful way to end the day.
Our life with Lady is marvelous and we deeply appreciate the love, talent and time that you have invested in her. We look forward to many years together and we know we wouldn't have this wonderful dog in our life if it wasn't for you, your colleagues, and the Project POOCH people.
With gratefulness--Lady and her family"
Fast forward six years: Lady needs yet another leash on life as her family gives her up.
Project POOCH is there for her.
Six years later, we received an owner surrender form from the family. The question: Why are you surrendering your dog? "I have moved to another state for work. I have not been able to secure suitable housing for Lady. She has been living with my daughter who is unable to care for her."
Another question Project POOCH asked: How often does your dog get walked on a leash? The answer: RARELY.
Lady’s family had given up on her and no longer cared for her.
Lady was soon brought to Project POOCH by the adopter's son. She weighed in at 93 pounds! He handed us the leash and walked away.
It was heartbreaking…
…to have Lady returned after six years but we decided to put her on a strict diet and make sure she got the exercise she needed to burn off calories.
Brian, Lady’s new handler, took the task of getting Lady back in shape as a serious goal.
Her previous handler had left corrections so Lady got a new handler. He began keeping a diary in which one of the entries is as follows: “We have just returned from our morning walk. Lady and I enjoyed a slow jog around the perimeter of the upfront units. You can notice a considerable difference in her behavior and demeanor when she is exhausted from exercise, which makes me feel the need to take her out even more so. For the duration of my stay at Project POOCH today, I will brush her teeth and fur, clean out her ears, and give her a bath.”
Lady’s luck turns around! Little by little, Lady began losing the extra weight. Four months after Lady came back to Project POOCH, she was at her goal weight of 60 lbs., and a couple with another older Labrador Retriever came to look at Lady for a possible adoption.
Lady went right to them and let their other dog do a brief sniff test to make sure the two dogs were compatible. Everyone stood around with the fingers crossed behind their backs. When the family said: We would like to adopt Lady it was a happy day.
Lady finds her 3rd and FOREVER home! The day of the home visit came very soon because Lady had passed the Canine Good Citizen test. A week after the adoption, we received an email which read: “Lady is settling in just fine. Yesterday she was sunbathing on the back deck and today she sat on the front porch where I watered our hanging baskets. She has decided she doesn't need to jump in the pond anymore and the trips to the beach suit her just fine. She and our other dog get along great.”
Recently we received another update and photo of Lady on Facebook in response to a photo we posted of her in a campaign to raise funds through GlobalGiving. She is a much loved and integral member of her now forever family: “This is our Lady dog! We're happy to be celebrating our one-year anniversary of adopting Lady! She's happy laying out on our deck, meeting new friends at the dog park and playing chuck-it. And she really loves going to the beach! Thanks Project POOCH for our special dog.”
Her new family is thrilled Lady is theirs! Three times really is a charm!
Every day the dogs in our care is working with the young men in our program. Together, they are striving to be the best versions of themselves they can be. Your donations are critical to their ability to build the relationships necessary to their success; and to providing the support, resources, guidance, and training they need to prosper and thrive no matter how many times it takes. We hope you'll consider making a gift on GlobalGiving's Bonus Day, Wednesday, October 15th, between 6am and 9pm Pacific Time. Your gift could be matched at 30% and will give a dog like Lady the extra chance at a forever home and a youth the opportunity to make that chance happen!! THANK YOU!
Project POOCH, Inc.®, is a small non-profit with a lean outreach staff. We accomplish a lot with a small budget, and most of the funds donated to our organization go directly toward our mission and program rather than to fundraising or administration. Since every dollar counts, we believe it’s important to choose fundraising opportunities wisely. There are lives and futures depending on us to make sound financial decisions.
We wanted to share our Fail Forward story with our supporters to demonstrate our commitment to being transparent and accountable to you. Read below to learn about a lesson we learned.....
Failure: Partnering with a business without a written agreement and clear understanding of what the business is offering. Result: not getting our return on investment and raising less funds than planned.
This summer we hosted a fundraising event at an area business and advertised it based on what we understood the business was offering in terms of proceeds that would benefit our non-profit. We were very excited to partner with them and it seemed like it would be a fun and successful event as we heard a fair amount of buzz about it from supporters. A good number of people attended the event which was wonderful and from that standpoint, the event was a success!
However, what didn’t work out as planned is how funds were being raised for us. Attendees made purchasing decisions based on our advertising, thinking they were helping raise more funds for our organization. After all, in addition to having the opportunity to socialize with fellow supporters and dog lovers, they were there to help raise funds critical to our mission. The evening went well and based on our understanding of how the business structured the benefit, we thought we had a successful night. We were excited to see how much we had raised to support our work.
Well, several months passed and no check came from the business. After several attempts to follow up with the business, still no response, explanation, or funds. Finally, a member of our staff was able to catch the business owner on the phone.
In the course of the conversation, it became clear that what had been discussed between another representative at our organization and the business did not match what was relayed and ultimately advertised to the public. The business owner assumed they had met their obligation and chalked it up to a misunderstanding.
We failed to make sure the person marketing the event was in the room when the deal was struck. This did lead to a misunderstanding. We also failed to get an agreement in writing that would have spelled out what was expected by and from us and the business. In the end, while we did raise some funds at the event, we didn’t meet our fundraising expectations.
It is critical to have all parties involved at the table from the beginning. This ensures everyone is on the same page, everyone is hearing the same information, and any concerns can be sussed out at the start. This would have allowed us to be fully informed and to determine in advance if the event and/or partnering with this business would raise enough money to make it worthwhile.
In addition, get it in writing! This would have made follow up much easier. The business would have known what was expected of them and would have had to fulfill their obligation. We would have had a clearer idea of how much money we would raise.
Being a small non-profit like many that are on GlobalGiving, we have to be very careful and mindful about how we spend our limited resources. We are beholden not only to the young men and dogs we serve, but also to our donors and our community. Making sure our fundraising efforts will give us the return on investment we require is our responsibility. Before investing money or too much time, we learned we must do our due diligence when planning fundraising efforts and have clear communications with the businesses with which we partner.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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