This is the story or Ruby, a boxer mix who was rescued from an animal shelter and brought to Project POOCH.
Hi, my name is Ruby, and I recently relocated to Hillside Retirement Community from a temporary position I was chosen for at the MacLaren Youth Correction Facility in Woodburn. It’s been a wild month or so. It all started in early January when animal control employees found me wandering the streets of McMinnville. These caring people took me to their house on Lafayette Avenue. It sure was nice to get a meal and a warm place to stay. A couple of days later when I was feeling better and the doctor had checked me out, I found out I was going to be available for adoption. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I didn’t have much choice. I got the attention of a nice lady who was looking for a new four-footed friend. The reason she liked me best was that among all the noise and confusion going on when she came searching for a new buddy, I didn’t make any fuss or join in the conversations. Good manners do pay off. The woman found out she couldn’t take me home with her right away. I had to stay for a few more days just in case someone was looking for me. She said she would wait. In the meantime, a woman from an animal rescue group called Project POOCH came in and decided one of my kennel mates and I would be just right for a couple of available positions at the kennel at MacLaren. So we were moved to Woodburn. I was amazed I was so popular. My job description at MacLaren was to be part of a team that would teach the youth to refocus their lives by practicing positive reinforcement and behavior modification. Like me, they’d strayed a bit along the way. The youth assigned to me was charged with teaching me to be a good doggie citizen. We both needed help. We worked together for three weeks, and I earned my AKC Good Citizen Certificate. Then I got adopted by the very same woman who had chosen me weeks earlier! When I moved to my new place, I gave my new person the certificate. I hope she will hang it over my new bed to remind me of how lucky I am that I survived and found a good home here at Hillside.
Project POOCH provides opportunities for incarcerated youth to learn patience, responsbility and compassion for all life through working with shelter dogs. As the say goes, "A student doesn’t learn what has been taught until he can transfer that knowledge to real life situations." At Project POOCH, we can only hope that the lessons we offer working at the kennel will guide the youth once they have served their time and are back in the community.
Former Project POOCH youths, BJ, Marcel, and Ricky, are earning A’s and B’s as they experienced their first term at Oregon colleges this fall. Two of the youth hold down part-time jobs to help pay for their college and living expenses. Ricky called to say he got a B in his business ethics class because he used an example from what he learned in Project POOCH. Marcel had a test in which he had to present both sides of an issue, and he chose the topic of positive reinforcement vs. punishment, which he learned while working with dogs. Two of the students earned the Dean's List at their colleges.
It is very rewarding to see that given the opportunity to practice the principles of positive reinforcement with dogs has helped Project POOCH youth graduates to succeed in college and in their communities.
Project POOCH truly appreciates the support we receive from our donors. We can see first hand how these youth are transformed by the healing power of unconditional love. Dogs are wonderful teachers.