Pontiac, Michigan -- Ten Children's Village residents in the Teacher's Pet dog training program and the dogs they have trained will take part in a graduation ceremony at 5:00 p.m. Thursday, December 16, 2010 at the Oakland Pet Adoption Center, 1700 Brown Road, Auburn Hills. Also on hand will be Children's Village and Pet Adoption Center staff, volunteers, family members, and adopters.
In the Teacher's Pet program, groups of 10 boys or girls from the residential program at Children's Village are paired up for 12 weeks to train dogs from the Oakland County Pet Adoption Center with the help of volunteer instructors Amy Johnson and Angela Lijewski. Each pair trains one dog in basic commands such as sit and stay. After their training, the dogs are adopted out to good homes.
Kids in the residential program at Children's Village are transforming their outlooks thanks to Teacher's Pet. It offers not only lessons in animal training but also lessons in life. For some of the children, training a dog is a first encounter with unconditional love.
"Teacher's Pet promotes teamwork," Children's Village Program Supervisor Laura Beale says. "Each kid is paired up with another kid who is not always a good friend. They must work together to provide their dog commands, structure and affection."
Beale says by the end of the training, her kids learn trust, compassion, how to be affectionate and how to step outside themselves. "I had a young man (14 at the time) who did not believe he had the ability to complete the program. This young man's maturity elevated when he went through the program. He went from what he couldn't do to what he could do."
Some of the kids from Children's Village's residential program lack self-confidence. But after encountering the Teacher's Pet program, they begin to believe in themselves, says dog training instructor Amy Johnson.
"One girl in the program had a dog that had trouble warming up to her. She had to keep trying," Johnson says. When the dog finally warmed up to her, "she told me if she keeps trying, maybe her mom can trust her again."
Johnson and Lijewski provide their services "free" to Oakland County. That is, they seek funding elsewhere from grants and donations. To support what they do for Oakland County's Children's Village residents, please visit their website at www.teacherspetmichigan.org.
Media are welcome to attend and may interview the children in the Teacher's Pet program at the ceremony. For legal reasons, however, Children's Village requires media to conceal the identities of the children. Please do not show their faces or use their real names on air, on the internet or in print.
For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Media and Communications Officer, at 248-858-1048.