POOCH Youth Give Back to the Community
The young trainers are encouraged to think beyond themselves and their own circumstances, to become good citizens and to contribute to the wider community.
The young men agree to give a portion of the monies earned from adoption fees and the sale of note cards and sweatshirts for restitution to victims and to support local charities.
Some of the organizations the youths have selected to give to in the past have included: The Christie School, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Willamette Valley Humane Society, Humane Society for Southwest Washington. and the Children's Cancer Association.
WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY ABOUT PROJECT POOCH
I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’ve always been around animals because my parents always had lots of dogs, but I never thought that one day I would be working on training dogs and helping them to be good dogs. I know that I’m not only helping the dogs. I’m helping myself.
It used to be that dogs were, to me, just like any other animal. But, with time in POOCH, they became something special in my life. Some of them were bad dogs that came here. Just like me. I was a bad person in my community. But now I teach the dogs to be good dogs so they can go to a new home, and it makes me feel really good when I see my dog take off for a new home. I can see he’s happy with his new family.
My life has changed a lot because of helping the dogs. They’re helping me at the same time I’m helping them. I used to be a troublemaker before I started working in this program, but now that I know that there’s someone up there in the kennel waiting for me, I choose to take care of business so I can be with my dog all day. I became a responsible person because I now that my dog depends on me.
Everybody deserves a second chance. We give that chance to dogs that need it.
I’ve been working at Project POOCH for two and a half years. The most rewarding thing about being part of POOCH is being able to see one of my dogs become a successful member of a family. This is a gratifying experience because I get to see a dog that came in with almost no chance of landing in a caring home. Yet, with training and the right family, all the work with the dog pays off in the end.
I haven’t been in the POOCH program as long as many of the others, but here’s how I see it: I want to spend as much time as possible with the dogs. At the same time, though, I still have to go to school so I can’t spend as much time as I want.
But when I’m here, I like training the dogs. I especially like when I tell the dog to sit and he does it. I feel good about that because I never had a dog like that before.
People who have been in the program longer that I have usually have their own dog to work with. I’m looking forward to having one of my own to work with, but in the meantime, I like walking and working with any dog.
I enjoy working in POOCH because of the dogs and the people in this program.
In the past, I used to not be concerned with much besides my own needs, but I realize this wasn’t very healthy for me. But now, when I walk up to the entrance to POOCH and I hear all the barking coming from the kennels, I get excited. By working and being with these dogs, I find myself caring more and more about how they are and how they’re progressing in their training. I also think about how they’re doing every day that I’m away from them.
Being taught to care for and appreciate these animals, along with the interaction we have with people from the outside, we learn to have compassion for things other than ourselves. Project POOCH is a great idea, and I hope that ideas such as this one will be used in other correctional facilities as a way of motivating people who need to learn to show kindness, friendship, trust and compassion.
I want to learn more about training dogs because eventually I’d like to be a professional trainer. I really want to work with German Shepherds.
I want to train dogs to sit at my command, and to heel and to walk close. Heel and walking close I feel are hard to learn, but I imagine my German Shepherd doing those things well because he learned them from me!