Animals pictured are available for adoption. Please visit www.pooch.org for info on these and others ready for a forever home.
assignments, like the Christmas cards being designed in Photoshop the day I visited. Seasoned POOCH veteran Ian maintains the database of all dogs that have gone through the program. Youth are also responsible for maintaining their dogs’ files and tracking medical issues. As Dalton puts it, “We hold them to a really high standard.” All these tasks are done in a purposeful buzz of teamwork. The impression, standing amidst hoses spraying, brooms sweeping and the radio playing jazz, is a clear picture of the definition of the employment catchphrase, “selfmotivated.” Any company would be lucky to have them. The doggies’ lives in many ways mirror those of their young human handlers. They usually wind up at POOCH’s door after having been found unadoptable for behavioral reasons. This is a problem every Pooch team member works to solve every day. The handlers work on training using only positive reinforcement — treats and clickers. Equipping their pooch to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test means getting them to eligible standing for adoption.
Turning poorly-behaved dogs — typically due to circumstances, not because they decided to be “bad” dogs — into well-trained model citizens is a Mt. Hood-sized challenge.
Getting incarcerated youth back in high school is like bridging a Grand Canyon-sized chasm. The fact that Dalton tackled both shows guts. But using one to essentially solve
One of 10 finalists for Animal Planet’s 2008 Hero of the Year award. The results of the contest will be announced December 4th. Project POOCH is featured in Willamette Week’s 2008 Give Guide. Get in the spirit of the season by giving through the guide to POOCH or any of the other worthy nonprofits. Details wweek.com. Dave, of Dave’s Killer Bread fame, recently made Project POOCH his “pet” charity. Nov. 21-Dec. 1, Dave is donating HALF of all sales at The Healthy Bread Store to POOCH. Head to 5209 SE International Way in Milwaukie and buy some bread! Samsung, which apparently does more than make slick cell phones, picked up on the POOCH model and, after visiting MacLaren, is now operating its own version in correctional facilities in Korea and Japan.
the other, like filling up the Grand Canyon with the dirt from Mt. Hood, is inspiring genius. To keep kids in the program looking forward, Dalton and Bergin are always finding new ways to challenge them. Youth still attending Lord only work at POOCH part-time. Once graduated they can go full-time, but they don’t spend all their time training dogs. Some take college courses, others work to complete their Pet Care Services Association curriculum so they can get certified as a Level I and II Certified Pet Care Technician. There are always new challenges around the next corner, and it’s apparent: these guys love a good challenge. Sometimes the biggest ones come from their four-legged charges. POOCH sees all kinds of behavior issues in the dogs they get. There’s the usual jumping, barking and aggression issues. Brandon, another POOCH veteran, described a recent, especially challenging case. Annie, an 18-month-old Border Collie mix currently up for adoption, went from a puppy mill through the shelter system. By the time she arrived at POOCH she was extremely timid continued pg 20
| DECEMBER 2008
Published on Dec 2, 2008