Earlier this summer, the Crossroads for Youth and Teacher’s Pet 2019 Grant Recipients shared a success story with the Impact100 Oakland County team. It is always amazing to see how our Grant Recipients are continuing to do amazing work and making a difference in the community. Keep reading to hear about Morgan and his trainer “Trainer E”.
“When shelter dog Morgan first arrived to the program, the only way he could be described was ‘DOOFY.’ He was klutzy, clumsy, running into walls, about 20 pounds overweight, had a huge head, and tripped over his own feet. He had ZERO obedience skills, no boundaries, and it was common for his huge head to bonk his trainer’s head or nose. He did not know how to play with a toy, he was mouthy, and that is not even close to the complete list of issues. We truly did not know if we were going to be able to keep him in the program.
BUT – one student trainer decided THIS was the challenge that he needed. This student was not quite succeeding in his own program and stated that he ‘saw a lot of himself in this dog’ and that ‘Maybe we can help each other?’ as he picked Morgan as his first choice to work with in the program.
After a lot of discussion with the shelter director and staff, the facilitators and transport driver, we decided to give it a trial run! And oh my, are we glad we did! Morgan ended up going through 2 ½sessions with us.
Step by step, little by little, Morgan began to learn. It was not without frustration, and phrases like ‘I can’t do this, he’s not listening’ were heard often from his trainer. The facilitators literally had to take a step back themselves and figure out how to break simple training down into even smaller successes. Progress was made by helping Trainer E learn that successes sometimes are quite small, you can’t compare Morgan’s story to other dogs’ progress, and that patience is something that is learned in small doses!
Throughout our time in the classroom, we saw small changes in Trainer E as well. The defensive young man always had an excuse for his actions and rarely showed emotion.
However, Trainer E reacted to a dog fighting education video that was shown with inconsolable emotion, showing empathy towards the animals and actually verbalized his anger that a human could do such harm. However, despite the power of that moment, it wasn’t actually the golden moment – that moment came from two other students in the classroom who were so concerned
about their peer that they went to console him. They patted him on the back, asked him if he was ok, and told them their feelings too. Moments like this cannot be taught, but experienced. Building empathy is a goal we strive for in Teachers Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together and CFY and we were blessed to witness it first hand that day!
After working incredibly hard with Morgan, Trainer E had Morgan the ‘doofy dog’ doing agility work as well as Morgan passing his basic obedience with flying colors, he gained impulse control, reduced his ‘mouthy’ moments, and for the first time ever, was able to lay down and relax with his trainer. This was a massive success because getting on the floor typically landed his trainer with some type of over excitement situation.
We are pleased to announce that Morgan has been adopted into a wonderful home with a young adult and her mom. We receive updates on him frequently, and have received a comment, ‘Morgan has completely changed my world. I was headed down a bad path before he came along. He is my soulmate!’”