In our reports, we share stories of recent successes about a dog, or a youth, and their road to a better life. Today, we want to share a slightly different story as we end 2015. It is one that is 20 years in the making. It is this kind of story that really shines a light on the success and lasting impact of our unique and groundbreaking program at Project POOCH.
What many of you may not know is that in 1993 when Project POOCH began, we were the first program of our kind in the country for youth offenders.
We know from previous studies that at the time of the study NONE of the youth who had gone through our program had reoffended. We like data just as much as the next person. BUT, it is the personal stories and words that mean the most to us. It’s the people and dogs whose lives we impact whether it be a youth who graduated from Project POOCH, a dog who's finally found their forever home, or a family who’s found love through adopting one of our pawesome dogs.
This holiday season, we wanted to share this short, but heartwarming note we recently received from a former POOCH Youth:
“I was part of Project POOCH (positive opportunities, obvious change with hounds) in the 90’s. I just want to say thank you for the opportunity, the guidance, the instruction, and most of all, the trust.
My most loved & cherished memory is of my dog, Cozer. He was my buddy, my pal, and my best friend.
I send my sincere appreciation and gratitude. Keep our amazing program going so that “troubled” youth have a reason to wake up every morning.”
You are making a difference and effecting lifelong positive change in the lives of those who are affected by Project POOCH. Thank you for all the support you have given. We are so grateful and lucky to call you our friend.
It means the world to us, the dogs, and the youth to know they have you in their corner, championing their success in a world where many have given up on them. If you haven't had the opportunity to make a gift in a while or would like to make another life-changing gift, there's still time in 2015. EVERY gift makes a difference.
Thank YOU and HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at Project POOCH!
Project POOCH was thrilled to host GlobalGiving staff members, Donna Callejon and Jacqueline Lee this past month!
Donna and Jacqueline were greeted with beautiful Portland weather. Perfect for visiting our site! Project POOCH’s kennel is located inside MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility. Visiting required a bit of walking since our kennel is on the far side of MacLaren’s campus. The weather couldn’t have cooperated better.
Joining us in the visit were Project POOCH founder and executive director, Joan Dalton, and Project POOCH board members Roxanne Thomas and Tom Lang.
When we arrived at the kennel, the youth had gathered, and welcomed us into the Engelhard Education Center (a structure youth originally built). It was wonderful listening to each of them share their story, their experience at Project POOCH, and what it means to them. They shared in detail what their responsibilities are at the kennel – responsibilities that range from feeding, cleaning, grooming, socializing, training, and of course, loving, the dogs, to creating the dogs’ marketing flyers, inventorying food supply, repairing concrete sidewalks, and tracking each doggie resident and their scheduled visits with potential adopters.
I know I was beaming with pride as they each in turn spoke about the dog they are working with, what challenges they’re facing with that dog’s training, and what successes they’ve experienced. As always, and as they’ve been taught by our founder and executive director, Joan Dalton, they were extremely polite, well spoken, kind, and professional. They even offered each of us coffee when we first walked in! They are truly learning to be gentlemen in every sense of the word!
Seeing our project through the youths' eyes as they explain it to others is so rewarding and heartwarming. It is a validation of their hard work and our investment in them as people, not offenders.
Donna, GlobalGiving Chief Business Officer, had this to say about her experience:
"It was inspiring to see Project POOCH in action and to visit with five young men who described how the program is giving them skills and hope, as they complete their time at MacLaren."
It is wonderful to see the staff at GlobalGiving take such a personal interest in projects such as ours. Their personal touch and commitment to ensuring projects on GlobalGiving are vetted adds so much value to our participation in GlobalGiving’s platform. They ensure your generous donations are going to causes that are truly changing the world. In our case, one dog at a time……
We wanted to share the awesome news about Jet, a handsome Black Lab, who was with us for 9 months.
Jet finally found his forever home!
During his time at Project POOCH, he and his youth trainer worked to master his basic commands like sit, stay, and come, and successfully pass his Canine Good Citizen test. Jet is a rambunctious and gorgeous dog with a personality as big as he is. It took his youth trainer a lot of work, perseverance, patience, consistency and trust-building to help focus Jet's energy. We couldn't believe this beautiful Black Lab was having such a hard time attracting a new family. It would probably be an understatement to say his energy was holding him back.
But that didn't stop his trainer from dedicating his time and energy to his buddy. Every day, Jet received the love, socialization, time, attention, and training he needed to keep him happy and healthy and ready for when that magic moment came.
Last month, that moment finally did.
The perfect human companion for him found him online and came to visit. And she was impressed!
As his new mom said: “He’s a fine canine!” A fine canine indeed… all 85 goofy, loving, and playful pounds of him!
Jet’s story is a reminder of how hard the youth work to successfully adopt out the dogs in their care. They never give up hope that a dog will find their forever home, just like we don’t give up hope on the youth building a better life.
Jet’s leaving was bittersweet for his trainer. After all, they spent 9 months together bonding, growing, learning, and being friends. Jet’s trainer is due to release soon. How fitting it is he was able to witness Jet—his pooch who’d waited the longest—go home.
We are so proud of his efforts and his patience. Thanks to his personal commitment and love for Jet, Jet is now happily enjoying life in a loving home!
From Jet's mom on the ride home:
“Jet had a great time riding in the car... slept most of the way, but when we slowed down, he checked out the scenery. Fantastic K9!!! Here's a pic of him in our car on the way home with his head out the window sniffing the air... Pure delight!!!!"
We love happy endings and we know you do too! Each time a dog goes to their forever home or a youth achieves a milestone while in the program, or sends us an update on their life after release, we are reminded just how lucky we are to do the work we do and to have generous, kind, and caring folks who support us. Thank YOU!
P.S. Don't forget, today is a GlobalGiving Bonus Day where your donation could be matched at 50% if made before matching funds run out! Please consider making another life-changing gift today.