Helping Myself…by Helping a Dog

Helping Myself…by Helping a Dog

November 17, 2018 0 Comments

Helping Myself… by Helping a Dog

When I was nine, my mom sent my twin brother and me to live with my grandma. We were homeless for a while, showering at truck stops and enduring being bullied at school. We struggled but ultimately, we survived by working together and becoming a tight-knit family. It was around this time that I got to participate in UnChained.

 The UnChained program gives struggling youth a chance to find themselves, to take responsibility for a dog and build connections with that dog. Being in this program, we work with homeless animals, many that have been abandoned or surrendered at a shelter. I worked with a dog named Lady who had been returned twice to the local shelter before her first birthday. Given my background, I knew just how she felt. I got the chance to train her and get her ready for a new home. But, more importantly, I got the chance to give her love.

 When I first started with UnChained, I didn’t know what to expect. The first day I walked into the program, I was nervous because I didn’t know anybody. Within the first few minutes, we all introduced ourselves, and a huge friendship began. I will never forget the first day of class because I learned how to let myself go and act like somebody different – on that day, I played the part of a dog! I walked all around the room, was trained with a clicker, and was rewarded with candy. We all got to see how much faster we learned with praise and a treat!

 When we left the center that day, I bragged to my grandma about all of the wonderful people I met and what we had accomplished together. I talked about the program to all of my friends because I was so happy and proud of starting something new that could help animals and other people.

 During the eight week class, I was partnered with a girl named Leslie, and we worked together to help train our program dog, Lady. Our group was made up of 6 girls and we trained 3 dogs. Leslie and I had the opportunity to work with our coach, Joel, who taught us a lot about how to help Lady, to train her, and to be appreciative toward her.

 Following my graduation from the program, I stayed with UnChained as a volunteer. From working with Lady to working UnChained events, I have enjoyed every bit of it! One day a few months after the program, I reunited with Lady and we attended an event to show off the skills we had both learned. I was so proud of her – she remembered the cues and shared her sweet nature with the audience. It was heartwarming for me to see how healthy she looked, how happy she was and how great she was doing in her new home.

 I know other youth trainers who have participated in the program and they talk about what a difference it has made in their lives. From realizing how patient they can be to what it feels like to help a dog find a home, each of us takes something special from our experiences with UnChained. I still think of it each time I see the photo of Lady and me on my desk. It’s put me on a new, more positive path. I’ve always had dogs and I want them in my future as well. I’d like to be a veterinarian. I’ve thought about adopting kids. Also having a ranch where I can take in dogs who don’t have homes and need me to care for them. I’m continuing my work with UnChained as a volunteer and I love the new path I’ve found.

By RobinLynn Patton, UnChained Youth Trainer

0 2 2 4 6 8 8 10 10 12
4 6 6 8 10 12 12 14 14 16
32 34 34 36 38 40 40 42 42 44
42 42 44 46 48 50 52 52 54
155/76A 160/80A 160/80A 165/84A 170/88A 175/92A 175/92A 175/95A 175/96A 180/100A
5 7 7 9 11 13 13 15 15 17
4 6 6 8 10 12 12 14 14 16
34 36 36 38 40 42 42 44 44 46

Receive access to exclusive savings, inspiring stories, and new arrivals!