Can you feel the love?
Justin R. was still new to the Dobbs Ferry campus when he learned about our dog training program, but he wasted no time in applying.
“I was really hyped when I learned there was a dog kennel here. I like cats, too, but dogs are more fun to play with.”
Justin is a participant in our Canine Rescue & Rehab program, a partnership with the Paws Crossed Animal Rescue. The program pairs campus residents with rescue dogs to teach them basic obedience and social skills, helping to make the dogs more adoptable.
The teens quickly identify similarities between the dogs’ circumstances and their own, especially the loss of family and being taken from their homes. It helps them to better understand the dogs and also helps them openly discuss their own experiences.
“It’s remarkable to see the teens and dogs interact,” said Program Manager Adam Mallin. “The teens quickly learn that their behaviors and emotions are mirrored by the dogs — if the boys are angry or fearful, the dogs act defensive and timid. The teens train the dogs to behave well through trust and compassion, and everyone benefits.”
Justin’s first lesson with Adam focused on teaching an energetic dog named Tess how to sit on command, heel, and walk properly on a leash. The tasks were challenging, but Justin showed patience and perseverance — reminding himself, “I can do it, I can do it!” — and great pride when Tess mastered the tasks.
The session ended with a handshake and a “Great job!” from Adam, and one last task for Justin: Spend time cuddling and playing with Tess. “Training has to end with love!”
Canine Rescue & Rehab is privately funded. Visit childrensvillage.org/dogprogram to make a donation.