Project POOCH is often asked how we teach responsibility, patience, and compassion for all life to the youth in our program?
Responsibility begins with youths walking their dogs two times a day, supervising outdoor play time, training their dogs, and taking care of each dog's basic needs like food, fresh water, clean bedding, bathing and grooming. Responsibility also entails organizing dog training equipment, maintaining dog progress reports, and completing assigned tasks.
Patience with a dog teaches youth the importance of being patient with themselves. Since we use only humane training methods and high value treats, some dogs may not be into food. It is up to the youths to be patient and figure out what motivates each particular dog they are training.
While walking back to their living units, POOCH youths noticed a crow with an injured leg. They insisted that we delay walking back for lunch on their living units so that they could help the injured crow. One of the youth took off his jacket and threw it over the crow to keep it still so that the bird could be put in a dog carrier and taken to the local veterinarian. The bird survived and was returned to campus where the youth nursed it back to health. I had just witnessed compassion in action.
It is our hope that the lessons the youth learn in Project POOCH not only teach them to compassionately care for animals; but also how to care for and raise their own children using positive methods.