Zorro entered Project POOCH from a different shelter that was unable to place him. The incarcerated youth bonded with him from the moment he came into the program. Zorro did a great job of making everyone feel unconditionally loved.
One couple with another dog came to look at Zorro and thought he would be the perfect match for their family. A home visit was scheduled, and Zorro initiated a game of chase with his new dog friend. When Zorro entered the house, he refused to walk on the floor and had to be pulled on a rug to travel from the porch to the living room. Zorro's file and previous training were reviewed, including instructions on how to use hand signals and treats to keep up with his obedience training. The next step was to see how the two dogs got along overnight. A good report was received the next morning.
Unfortunately, a phone call came the next week and Zorro had attacked the other dog when the two dogs were alone in the house. Zorro was returned.
Zorro’s first shelter took him back and again tried to find him a home. They decided that Zorro would be taken to a veterinarian to be humanely put down. The veterinarian looked at Zorro and was rather taken aback when Zorro licked his face. The veterinarian refused to euthanize such a sweet dog. Project POOCH personnel decided to meet the other shelter manager and bring Zorro back to the correctional facility.
Just recently, a prospective adopter saw Zorro's video on our website and took a liking to the sweet boy. He decided to adopt him, and has a home where Zorro will be the only dog. It has been a long journey for Zorro, but the youths and Project POOCH were delighted to have finally found the right home for this beloved dog.
Project POOCH was recently asked to take in an abandoned three-month old puppy that was found on the side of the road. The pup was flea-riddled, and therefore missing most of the fur on his lower body. This was the youngest dog we’d ever taken in, but the youth wanted to help the three-pound Schnauzer mix. Two youths in the program were designated as “dog daddies.” They were asked to tend to the dog's health needs and to socialize the pup. They decided to name the dog Sam.
Around this time, we were also contacted by a nearby hospital that was seeking a comfort dog. The hospital wanted a dog to soothe medical staff who often work long hours under stressful conditions. We instantly thought of Sam, but had to wait for the dog to pass the Canine Good Citizen test.
Because this dog was desired as a therapy dog, the “dog daddies” were given permission to bring the little dog back to their living units to spend extra time getting used to noises and handling by 25 other youth. In a short period of time, the youth trainers developed a very strong bond with the little dog that they were turning into a comfort dog not only for the hospital staff, but for themselves as well.
The day for leaving the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility came and it was time to say goodbye and introduce Sam to the staff at Samaritan Hospital. It was heart-wrenching to then break the bond between Sam and his two “dog daddies.” Each youth wanted a photo with Sam as a reminder of the little dog that softened the hearts of incarcerated youth.
Upon Sam’s hospital arrival, he was transported to a staff area where eight people were anxious to meet him. He instantly began showing how his dog training and pulled his favorite toy out of his adoption bag which caused laughter from the hospital staff. After shaking his paw with one of the doctors, Sam settled in for a nap in preparation for his first day on the job.
Seeking out dogs for inclusion in Project POOCH is a standard practice, as all POOCH dogs come from other shelters. Recently, we came across Chrissy. This little dog would obviously be a costly intake, but she pulled on the heartstrings of program director Joan Dalton. “We’ll take her,” Joan decided, knowing that we could offer Chrissy a brighter and healthier future.
This Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund Mix had clearly been used as a breeding dog for quite some time. Chrissy’s previous shelter informed us that she had just given birth to a litter of puppies. Chrissy is about seven years old, and needs to be spayed. Upon entering our program, Chrissy came into heat, necessitating that she wait a while longer before her spay. In addition to this surgery, Chrissy is also scheduled for some intensive dental procedures. During her veterinary exam, we learned that Chrissy has some of the worst teeth the veterinarian had ever seen, further confirming her rough past.
All of these procedures are costly – our adoption fee rarely covers the full costs of the services provided by Project POOCH; in Chrissy’s case, it is certain that we will lose money by bringing her into the program.
However, the benefits are manifold and outweigh the financial burden of these procedures. It is extremely valuable for the youth in the program to learn how to care for dogs in various medical states - Chrissy is providing such experience for the youth. As for Chrissy, she enters Project POOCH in poor health knowing only a lifetime of breeding, but she will leave Project POOCH happy and healthy, bound for her forever home. Chrissy’s disposition is no worse for the wear, as her trainers report that she is very sweet and affectionate.