EAST BROOKFIELD — While Massachusetts students continue distance learning, canine students are heading back to the ‘classroom’ through Second Chance Animal Services’ Project Good Dog.
Project Good Dog, founded in 2015, helps dogs that have been surrendered or transferred from other shelters to become more adoptable. Dogs are paired with inmates at local correctional institutions who provide 24/7 care and training, working with the dogs on socialization, basic obedience, housebreaking, and sometimes a trick or two. The program was paused briefly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but was quickly resumed at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
Daisy had a very good first day of school. Less than 24 hours after she arrived at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office to begin behavioral training, the 7-month-old German shepherd/collie mix has already met her future owner. As often happens with Project Good Dog participants, a staff member has already let program officials know they would like to adopt the young pup as soon as she graduates.
Daisy joins Bane, a 2-year-old male rottweiler who entered the program for training two weeks ago. A Sheriff’s Office staff member describes Bane as a big teddy bear and reports Daisy and Bane are getting along well.
Second Chance Development Director Lindsay Doray founded Project Good Dog to give homeless dogs the best chance at a successful adoption. According to Doray, “while Second Chance continues to focus on keeping pets out of shelters in the first place, Project Good Dog plays an important role in helping our shelter dogs break the cycle. It is amazing to see the progress each dog makes in the program.”
Doray added that one of the best parts of her job is seeing the loving updates from adopters who have opened their hearts to the program graduates.
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Office Project Good Dog Program, nicknamed Freedom Pups, remains temporarily on hold to make room for the First Responder Recovery Home where first responders can recover from COVID-19 without the fear of infecting family members.
In addition to the benefits it provides to dogs, Project Good Dog also has a positive impact on the handlers, who learn patience, compassion, and responsibility. Several inmates have shared that caring for a shelter dog gives them something rewarding to focus on while they transition back into life in the community.