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Amy Johnson took her compassion for unwanted dogs and paired it with her desire to help at-risk youth. The result, Teacher’s Pet, where she offers a stepping-stone to a better life.

Amy: At our detention facilities the kids come in with a therapeutic mindset. Here are the goals that we want to have here are the goals that we need to have to be successful in life and we are paired with a dog to meet those goals and at the homeless shelter that program is slightly different because those kids they needed job skills so they learn dog training, dog walking, dog handling and they get paid so they actually have a job.

A chance for these kids to better themselves with the help of “hard to adopt” dog – a shared stigma that the kids understand.

Mitch: So you found that dogs paired with the rough experiences of some of the juvenile kids actually makes for like a simpatico relationship?

Amy: Absolutely it does they both have been unwanted or felt unwanted and they have both lived on the streets so the commonalities make them bond and connect in a way that we couldn’t do with just traditional therapy.

The bond benefits both youth and dogs. But the long-term goal is for each to work together and find their way to a happier life.

Amy: We want the dogs to be adopted so we try not to keep them for too long. These kids who have already experienced so much loss in their lives and how do you make them say goodbye to the dog’s too but that’s something that doesn’t have to be something that is painful let’s look at it from the dog’s perspective where he is getting into a home or going into a family that will treat him well and sometimes that altruism is the piece that makes the difference.

With a “sit” and a “good boy”, Amy Johnson is offering a brighter future for her trainers and canine trainees here in the heart of Detroit.

Air date: December 13, 2018

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