I have been in the Project POOCH program for over three years. I have helped more than 24 dogs find homes and each day I am learning more about myself and how I can improve.
My favorite dog, if I had to pick one, would be the one I am currently working with. Her name is Callie and she is 1 ½ years old. She has shown me that if I am persistent and put my mind to it, I can make a difference. She has been at Project POOCH for nine months. I see progress each day with her, which makes it hard for me to give her up. She relies on me and makes me feel needed, something I’ve never felt before.
This program has molded me into a more confident, compassionate and patient individual. These are traits that I needed to develop in the past, but I never knew exactly how to. I have learned a great deal about responsibility. I know this will help me in the future. I have also developed a love for animals that I never thought I would. I am now leaning towards a career in the animal care industry. I’m still working on my social skills, which is something I have always lacked. This program has given me the opportunity to work on these skills daily. Since being in the program, I have become much happier. My family has noticed the change in me too.
Project POOCH has given me hope for the future and an optimistic view on life. I am thankful to be a part of this wonderful program. I am proof that when given the opportunity, a person can really make a positive change in their life.
Project POOCH is not just a job working with and rescuing dogs. It has been a place for me to break down barriers of character flaws that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own.
Working with shelter dogs has helped me with compassion and caring for others and my surroundings. The dogs helped me be more aware of my emotions as well. I now know that I have more feelings than just anger or being fine. Now it’s even okay for me to shed tears from time to time.
I’ve also been able to learn various skills while working at POOCH. I first and foremost have learned quite a bit about handling dogs such and grooming, training and general knowledge and care of dogs. We also do all of the maintenance needs at the kennels and have even remodeled the kennels. I have also had the opportunity to learn computer skills and various software programs such as Photoshop and Microsoft Excel.
Project POOCH has also been able to help me with my social skills in dealing with people from the public as well as holding conversations with our volunteers that come in periodically to help out with dogs and the guys in the program. All in all, Project POOCH has helped make me the person I am today. Without POOCH I don’t think I could have even become the respectable, mature individual that I now am now. I am forever grateful to be a part of POOCH and how it has helped me as a human being.
At Project POOCH we are often amazed at the long term impact the program has had on the youth that we've served. Here is a letter recently sent to us from a former Project POOCH youth.
"I just wanted to say hi. I also wanted you to know that I am very happy to see that you have been able to keep Project POOCH up and running. It is a wonderful program. I know from experience that the program works, and it works in ways that the incarcerated youth are not able to see right now. After being out of Maclaren for over a decade, I must say that the people, dogs and instructors continually touch my life. Everyday. I am not sure if the youth realize, truly realize, what you are doing for them....I am not sure if you remember me or not, but I wanted you to know I really appreciate you, your program and your dedication. I often wonder about Project POOCH and to this day wish I could still be a part of it. It's a wonderful program. Thank you for keeping it going and hopefully growing"
I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’ve always been around animals because my parents always had lots of dogs, but I never thought that one day I would be working on training dogs and helping them to be good dogs. I know that I’m not only helping the dogs. I’m helping myself.
It used to be that dogs were, to me, just like any other animal. But, with time in POOCH, they became something special in my life. Some of them were bad dogs that came here. Just like me. I was a bad person in my community. But now I teach the dogs to be good dogs so they can go to a new home, and it makes me feel really good when I see my dog take off for a new home. I can see he’s happy with his new family.
My life has changed a lot because of helping the dogs. They’re helping me at the same time I’m helping them. I used to be a troublemaker before I started working in this program, but now that I know that there’s someone up there in the kennel waiting for me, I choose to take care of business so I can be with my dog all day. I became a responsible person because I now that my dog depends on me.
Everybody deserves a second chance. We give that chance to dogs that need it.
I’ve been working at Project POOCH for two and a half years. The most rewarding thing about being part of POOCH is being able to see one of my dogs become a successful member of a family. This is a gratifying experience because I get to see a dog that came in with almost no chance of landing in a caring home. Yet, with training and the right family, all the work with the dog pays off in the end.
I haven’t been in the POOCH program as long as many of the others, but here’s how I see it: I want to spend as much time as possible with the dogs. At the same time, though, I still have to go to school so I can’t spend as much time as I want.
But when I’m here, I like training the dogs. I especially like when I tell the dog to sit and he does it. I feel good about that because I never had a dog like that before.
People who have been in the program longer that I have usually have their own dog to work with. I’m looking forward to having one of my own to work with, but in the meantime, I like walking and working with any dog.
I enjoy working in POOCH because of the dogs and the people in this program.
In the past, I used to not be concerned with much besides my own needs, but I realize this wasn’t very healthy for me. But now, when I walk up to the entrance to POOCH and I hear all the barking coming from the kennels, I get excited. By working and being with these dogs, I find myself caring more and more about how they are and how they’re progressing in their training. I also think about how they’re doing every day that I’m away from them.
Being taught to care for and appreciate these animals, along with the interaction we have with people from the outside, we learn to have compassion for things other than ourselves. Project POOCH is a great idea, and I hope that ideas such as this one will be used in other correctional facilities as a way of motivating people who need to learn to show kindness, friendship, trust and compassion.
I want to learn more about training dogs because eventually I’d like to be a professional trainer. I really want to work with German Shepherds.
I want to train dogs to sit at my command, and to heel and to walk close. Heel and walking close I feel are hard to learn, but I imagine my German Shepherd doing those things well because he learned them from me!
When I started working at Project POOCH, I noticed how difficult it was for me to train dogs. I really thought that this job wasn't for me. I learned more stuff from experienced guys and once I got the hang of it my dogs seemed to come and go very quickly. Being able to understand a dog's behavior and how they react to different things was very difficult for me at first, so I paid lots of attention and slowly started building a bond with the dogs.
After being at Project POOCH for two years, my training techniques are getting better and I have accomplished many adoptions . I'm always comfortable with the depth of emotion I have for the dogs. That is why I am patient in giving the dogs the affection and compassion they need.
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