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.
Thanks to the support of community volunteers, the youth are sometimes offered a chance to learn new and exciting ways to bond with their dogs. These special events are not only fun for the youth and dogs, but give the youth an opportunity to develop their problem solving skills, increase their listening skills and practice their social skills. In addition, positive experiences like these help the to youth develop the self confidence they will need to build healthy relationships in the future.
On a recent Saturday, volunteers from Cascade Sled Dog Club showed the human side of POOCH how to harness their dogs’ natural abilities and enjoy dog-powered sports. The youth guided their dogs through drills aimed at teaching both dogs and soon-to-be- mushers the skills and commands necessary to pull a sled scooter, or a person on skis. Both dogs and youth were receptive to the training, so everyone was ready to try his or her hands (or paws) at scootering by the end of the session. The young men put on special belts, helped their dogs into harnesses connected from a tow line to their belts, mounted scooters. and told their dogs to “Go!” Every dog/youth team made its way at least once around the POOCH kennel. They were encouraged by a lot of yelling and laughter from the volunteers and each other. It’s tough to say who had the most fun—the volunteers, the dogs, or the youth. There are definitely some promising mushers and sled dogs in POOCH!
Dear Project POOCH,
Hello to everyone at POOCH. I was just doing a homework assignment and was thinking of how much POOCH has helped me through the last few years and after my release, so I decided to write a letter of gratitude. I could not have written this letter if it wasn’t for POOCH. You got me this computer and I don’t have to use my brother’s computer every time I have an assignment. I would not have gone to college because of my financial status but thanks to Project POOCH’s support, I’m in college studying and learning hard. Also, I realized some of the most important skills like: patience, compassion, and responsibility. I need to have patience with some of my professors and the people I’m surrounded by. I need to have compassion for other people. And most importantly is responsibility. I use it every day with college, looking for work and managing my time so I can be productive. I am making sure the things I do are responsible so I don’t end up where I was.
It’s just nice to know that there are people that want me to do well and believe in me. That drives me to do better than just being good or average. Thank you again for everything you have done for me and for all things you are doing for others.
Jasper, a two year old Jack Russell Terrier mix, was a two time loser before coming to Project POOCH. Jasper first came to the animal control office as a stray in September 2009. He was adopted from the shelter in October but returned in December for being a menace to his adopter’s chickens. The family that returned Jasper thought that he should be euthanized. Jodi, the dog control officer, said that when Jasper re-entered the shelter he was quiet and insecure. She knew he would be a difficult dog to place, but she wasn’t ready to give up on him. She noticed that when Jasper was by himself he exhibited more self confidence. Jasper needed another chance, so Jodi contacted Project POOCH.
Project POOCH Youth, Israel, was paired with Jasper. For the first few days Israel worked on helping to build Jasper’s self confidence. Soon Jasper blossomed and his true personality began to shine. Jasper, the quiet and insecure stray, became a happy, fun loving little dog. Jasper was soon ready for a new home and a new life with someone who would love and care for him the way that Israel did.
Enter Lisa and Beans. Lisa had adopted Beans, a one-year old Border Collie mix, after her 15 year old black lab had died. Beans was a great dog, but one of those guys who really needed a buddy. A friend told Lisa about Project POOCH. Lisa visited the POOCH website and was immediately impressed with the program. Lisa says “I wasn't intending to find a dog to adopt, but then I saw Jasper!” Jasper’s photo drew Lisa in right away. She thought he might be the right guy to help calm Beans down a bit. Lisa and Beans came to visit Jasper at Project POOCH and it was love at first sight. Lisa says, “Jasper has fit right in to our family. He and Beans are the best of friends. They play for hours and then curl up on the couch together. They even like to spoon! Jasper has also made a life long friend in my cat Siler. They are about the same size, so they are the prefect wrestlers. The four of us go for walks around the block together and we are the talk of the neighborhood.”
Jasper's story reminds us that every life if worth saving. Sometimes just demonstrating love and kindness can turn someone life around.
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