Juveniles Train Dogs Through New Program
What a great program. I feel more programs like these should be established. These are great skills and values the young men and women are learning, all while doing society a favor.
At the Williamson County Juvenile Justice Center, kids aged 10 to 17 are sentenced to boot camp for crimes they have committed.
But through Kids-N-K9s, a new collaborative program between the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter and the Williamson County Juvenile Services Academy, a few cadets had the privilege of working with and training dogs to promote their adoption.
The four teenagers, named Rene, Dakota, Chase and Jose, celebrated their graduation from the three-week program Thursday evening, where three of the four dogs were adopted on-the-spot.
The cadets worked with a dog each for two hours a day to feed, water and train them. They taught the dogs self-control — not to jump up and to approach its owner politely — basic commands like sit and lay and an additional creative trick.
According to Donna Wasielewski, Kids and K9s program director, the idea was to help sheltered dogs while teaching the cadets about understanding behavior motivation, empathy, compassion, patience and leadership.
“We’re trying to teach them things about themselves through working with the dogs,” she said. “(The cadets) were really impulsive in real life, and it’s gotten them into a lot of trouble.”
Rene trained Chevy, a yellow lab that joined the ranks of Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, where he will learn to assist someone with limited mobility.
Jose, a non-native English speaker, worked through the additional difficulty of a language barrier to train Dakota, a Siberian Husky. Before the program, he was afraid of dogs, but he quickly overcame his fear.
Jose announced he originally wanted to be a body guard, but now he’s considering working with dogs.
Thomas, who trained Chase, was so overwhelmed at the ceremony, he wept.
“The best thing is I’ve saved a baby’s life,” he said. “People don’t like black dogs, and they don’t like old dogs. Well Chase is old and black. If it weren’t for me, he’d be dead.”
Chase was adopted by the Chisum family, who was present at the graduation to take him home.
Dakota, the cadet, said before he began training Madison, a mixed-breed female, he was never really happy. But once the program began, even on the days when the cadets weren’t scheduled to work with the dogs, he still had something to look forward to.
Madison went home with a family that was present at the event.
A KNOWING LOOK: Jose, a cadet in the Kids-N-K9s program, meets eye-to-eye with Dakota, the siberian husky he trained. Jose had to address the program with an additional difficulty — English as a second language. Jose said he was afraid of dogs when he volunteered for the program, but quickly overcame his fear when he began working with Dakota.
photo by JASON SCHAEFER | Order reprints at http://www.TaylorDailyPress.net
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