k9 connection is an experiential program which educates
and inspires high-risk youth by bonding with and training
homeless shelter dogs using empathy, understanding and non-violence.
The k9 connection program serves counselor-referred teens
from participating schools, and concludes with a graduation
ceremony…imprinting success…and placement of
the dogs into permanent homes. After the teens “graduate”
k9connection continues to work with them monthly through
Peer Leadership and Intern programs. They also extend support
to the adopters of the canine graduates.
k9 connection brings together city shelter dogs with at-risk
teens, ages 14 to 18, who easily identify with the dogs’
plight. Like the dogs, the kids may have experienced abandonment,
abuse, homelessness, fighting and more. The teens train
the dogs in basic obedience creating more adoptable animals,
and the students become humane ambassadors for the well
being of all dogs.
Because of their work with the dogs, students can identify
positive reinforcements and motivations for themselves and
apply them to their own lives. The classroom portion of
the program features inspirational guest speakers, field
trips, learning job interview skills through role playing,
and developing a personal resume.
With the dogs providing instant and reliable feedback to
the student trainers, the teens quickly see that change
is possible. They have proof that consistency and patience
can result in behavior modification for the dogs and themselves.
k9 connection empowers high-risk youth to apply the lessons
they teach the dogs to their own lives: to develop an awareness
of the risks of uncontrolled and impulsive behavior, and
to believe in the power of positive reinforcement as an
alternative to force and violence.