Last summer, a sweet Greyhound/Shepherd mix joined our POOCH pack. She was named Rose, which couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Roses need the right environment, some patience, and of course, a lot of care and consistency to grow, let alone thrive. Like some of the youth at Project POOCH, Rose had a hard time trusting people because of her past. Rose had lived with a family once before, but they returned her to a local rescue because she was “too much”; she jumped fences, escaped her wire crate, pulled too hard on a leash, and all-together was “too active.” The local rescue reached out to us because they thought she might be a good fit for the youth in our program. At Project POOCH, dogs like Rose are the ones we love to help the most: the ones that have something to work on, the “underdogs,” or the ones that have not been able to succeed in other environments.

Project POOCH is smaller than the typical rescue—we can take around 10 dogs in at a time. Each dog is paired with an incarcerated youth who uses positive reinforcement training (with the guidance of a professional trainer and two kennel managers) in order to rehabilitate the dog and make him or her adoptable. Due to our small size, each dog gets plenty of individualized attention, including several long walks around campus every day, trips to the agility center, playtime in the recreation yard, swimming time in the kiddie pool when the weather gets hot, and even time to relax in the meditation garden. Rose enjoyed doing all of these activities and was able to form a strong bond with some of the youth at Project POOCH; however, nearly a year had passed, and she still had not found her forever home.

Rose had a few visits from potential adopters during her time at Project POOCH, but it was hard for her to open up to them. She loved her youth handler so much that she felt like she had to protect him when a visitor came to see her. Because of her breed, activity level, and desire to explore, we wondered if Rose needed something more than POOCH could provide her with.

While the bond between the youth and dogs in our program is at the heart of all we do, in times like these we also have to think back to our mission of teaching responsibility, patience, and compassion for all life. We decided that the most responsible and compassionate thing to do for Rose would be to try to foster her outside of the kennel environment. Our founder, Joan Dalton, whom Rose already had a strong bond with, offered to care for her off-site.

When Rose left the kennel, she transformed into a new dog entirely. She had access to so much space to constantly roam around and explore and did not have to go back to a kennel run each night to sleep. We knew that she needed an active forever home that had as much desire to explore and go on adventures as she did.

A month ago, our dream for Rose came true. A young and active couple reached out wanting to meet her and take her on all their fun adventures. After a meet and greet and overnight trial, it was clear that Rose had found her people, and the rest was history.

We have been in touch with Rose’s forever parents, and they’ve given us updates on her new life. Rose’s fur-mama says, “We are very active and like to go running, hiking, and take trips to the beach, so we knew we needed a dog who could keep up! Rose was the perfect fit! We have already enjoyed taking her on runs, playing in the backyard, and spoiling her with new toys. Rose has so much love to give and is a wonderful addition to our family. We are excited about the many adventures to come!”

We are so thankful for everyone who was a part of Rose’s journey: the local rescue that reached out to us, the youth at Project POOCH for teaching her how to trust and love again, Joan for fostering her and finding her the perfect match, and her new family for being her forever-adventure buddies. Rose’s journey teaches the youth something so central to our program: the power of perseverance. Roses aren’t easy – they take time, patience, and the right environment before they can grow, but the beauty they share with the world when they’ve found that right fit is well worth the wait.

Give your gift today to help more shelter dogs like Rose and the incarcerate youth who care for them at Project POOCH find healing, love, and joy in second chances.