So what is Teacher’s Pet?
It is hard to explain in a simple, one sentence response, but I’ll give it a try. It is an organization that pairs at-risk youth with hard-to-adopt shelter dogs in Macomb and Oakland Counties for a 10 week training and education program. Easy enough, right? But there is really more to it than just that.
The youth from Crossroads for Youth, Children’s Village and Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center learn how to “speak dog,” how to communicate with canines, positive dog training techniques to help the dogs to become more adoptable and more likely to stay in their homes permanently. Throughout the program, the youth are able to gain skills that can help them find employment later, learn how to think about another perspective — even if it is the dogs which helps them become more empathetic people and learn responsible pet ownership. What the youth are able to do, training wise, with the dogs is pretty remarkable. While our most asked question is something along the lines of “how can you let the kids get attached to the dogs and then take them away?” The truth is, we are able to work on that process of letting go and allowing their work with the dogs to be altruistic. They get nothing other than great feeling of knowing that they have saved a dog and blessed a family with a better-trained pet.
For those more concerned with the dogs, each dog has five weeks (twice a week) in the program and then he or she is available for adoption. Then the youth trainers receive another set of dogs for training. We have recognized over the years that pit bull related breeds are showing more often in the shelters. While we love the breed, they are very intelligent and sociable, it does often take a long time before they find willing adopters. For that reason, we will pull dogs who have been in the shelter for too long or those who really struggle in a shelter environment and with our partners, Club Pet Too, Angelic Tails and really cool fosters, we are able to provide them with more one-on-one social and mental interaction.
Keep checking back! You will read blogs from the youth trainers, facilitators, volunteers and more! Thanks for reading!