Children have an affinity for animals, especially those in need. Students at the Hillsides Education Center (HEC) partnered with a charity, K9 Youth Alliance, to help dogs at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA find homes.
Seven teens were matched with shelter dogs, then spent three weeks teaching the dogs skills to help the canines get adopted, such as how to sit and stay. Their efforts paid off: Seven of the dogs they trained found families.
In addition, the students learned important skills beyond dog training: “The experience helped me learn how to be more patient and respectful of boundaries,” said one student. Another said that interacting with his two shelter dogs, Guerro, a Chihuahua mix, and Giselle, a Miniature Pinscher mix, inspired him to be “calm, competent, and brave.”
HEC Director of Education Alicia Jennings praised the course for being meaningful for the students on many levels. “It helps them develop confidence, compassion, and leadership skills as well as process their own history of trauma all while helping the community,” she said.
The program culminated with a graduation ceremony where the students showed off their handling skills by leading their partner dogs through an obstacle course. They also gave emotional speeches about their experiences.
The school, further showing its dedication to dogs, held a Read-A-Thon to benefit the Humane Society. The students read over 8,000 pages while raising nearly $2,000, proving that when kids and dogs are involved, anything is paws-ible.