roject POOCH, Inc,® has successfully paired youths incarcerated at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon, with homeless shelter dogs since 1993.
Youths (guided by professionals) learn to train the dogs, groom them, and find them new adoptive "forever homes." The dogs leave the program ready to be great pets, while their trainers re-enter the community with new job and personal skills and increased compassion and respect for all life.
Project POOCH, Inc. is recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, Tax ID # 93-1252054 – your donation is tax-deductible.
POOCH Youth finds success working with dogs
Every month we share stories of success. Often about POOCH doggie alums who've found their forever homes. We also love to share stories of our youths' successes. This of course, is our raison d'être after all, so, it's with swelled chest and lots of pride we share the story of M.
M. participated in Project POOCH from 2005-2006. It wasn't the longest a youth has been in our program, but the impact—on dogs and on him—was overwhelming. Project POOCH recently sat down with this now very accomplished young man and learned how Project POOCH affected his life and the path he's since followed.
If there's one word to describe M., it's optimistic. He has what seems to be a permanent smile on his face. Where he is today as opposed to where he was several years ago certainly gives him ample reason.
During his time at Project POOCH, he worked with and helped adopt out six dogs: Cash, Zeus, Jasper, Max, Sophie, and Emma. It may be a few years since he was in our program, but it took him no time to rattle off these names. His experience and his time with these dogs clearly have left a lasting impression!
His most memorable dog? Emma. She was a very scared dog because she'd been tied up for several months before ultimately finding her way to Project POOCH. The key to her success? Socialization. That's what this really all boils down to: making friends, learning to trust, and learning to play well with others. M. said he liked that Project POOCH was helping dogs who were like him and the other youth—individuals who'd gotten lost along the way, had slipped through the cracks, and who were in danger of being forgotten by society altogether. He understood where dogs like Emma were coming from. And he related to their plight.
The difference he knew he'd be making inspired him. M. tried his hand at anything and everything that needed to be done at the kennel, from helping build walkways, to landscaping, electrical, and record keeping. He's proud of the fact he helped build POOCH's beautiful meditation garden, a place where the youth can take a moment and reflect in what is otherwise a hectic day.
Today, M. is following a path Project POOCH clearly helped set him on. He's a dog trainer. Not only that, he's a trainers' trainer. He attributes Project POOCH for helping him achieve the success he has enjoyed so far. According to him, Joan Dalton handed him the job application, gave him a Safeway card so he could buy food, bought him clothes for his interview, and set him off to a brighter future. A brighter future he has built indeed!
M.'s advice? He's got a few key points he wanted to share:
- "Give people the opportunity you would ask for if you were in the same situation."
- "Learn as much as you can and say yes to opportunities to learn, grow, and better yourself."
- "Stay positive."
The youth learn many new things during their time in Project POOCH. They learn the values of patience, compassion, responsibility, and respect for all life. They also gain real life work experience—training dogs, understanding dog behavior, customer service through working with potential adopters including showing them how they've trained the dogs, computer skills, record keeping, and how to be reliable, hardworking employees. M. took what he learned at Project POOCH and directly applied it to his post release career, one at which he is excelling. M. said it took him half the normal time to complete the trainer's course because he'd already learned so much at Project POOCH. This is indeed the fulfillment of our mission—youth learning skills at Project POOCH that help them find a job and succeed in life. We are indeed proud of M.'s success and you should be too. After all, it's because of your support, M.'s story has a happy ending!
Announcing our new Happy Tails! Web page
We are so proud of our POOCH alums, whether they go on to be the beloved family pet, hike mountains, become experts at agility, or help bring calm to and build trust in those going through difficult times. We love sharing their stories and are thrilled to announce our new Happy Tails! page on our Web site.
Stewie provides emotional support to his dad, a combat veteran
We proudly adopted Stewie 2-1/2 years ago. The moment we laid eyes on him we knew he was meant for our family. We were told that he didn't have good showing at other homes. We just believed it was because he was meant for only us. Stewie's biggest hurdle was trust. Once he learned to trust us then he also fell in love with us as well. He didn't get along with our daughter who was 7 at the time but she had surgery two months after we got him and he sat with her through her recovery. Now they are best of buddies. His greatest accomplishment: he is now a certified service dog! My husband Joe is a combat veteran who struggles with the effects of PTSD. Stewie is now his emotional support dog and travels with us almost everywhere. He has made our love of traveling more a reality because he can go and help my husband! (Read more)