Shake-a-Paw pilot is now ready to begin some time in January, 2016. We plan to let the holiday season settle a bit and begin mid-to-late January. New participants will be informed of the start date once it's decided.
Some people are asking to hear more about what the Pilot phase will look like. For the pilot, we'll be working with two young people and pairing them with 2 dogs for 6-8 weeks. We'll then run different youth and dogs in the next set of 6-8 weeks. Finally, we'll do a third run of two different youth and dogs in one final pilot run of 6-8 weeks. By then, we figure we will have worked through any kinks. We'll finally be ready for a larger group of up to 6 dogs and 6 youth in September 2016.
Other people have been asking which rescue agencies we're going to be working with. Because we're in the discussion and negotiation phase with dog rescues, we really need to have a contract with them before naming them publicly. So what about the dogs for the pilot? Because rescue agencies who are interested in working with us might not have suitable dogs to just hand over to us whenever we want, the dogs we'll use for our pilot programs have been volunteered for training by some friendly folk we have thankfully brushed noses with along the way. Catherine, our dog trainer, and Jan, our humane educator, are working together to screen the dogs so we know the dogs will be safe to work with and what kind of teachable moments we can hope for from the special character of each canine companion. We look forward to solid relationships with rescue groups by next September, so that our vision of working with rescued dogs needing a forever/adoptive home will come to life.
What about the length of the program? Because we haven't run Shake-a-Paw before, we don't know exactly how long the dogs and young participants will take to learn the skills are going to be working on with them. That's why we're thinking the program will be between 6 and 8 weeks long. Based on our research and consultations with other programs (see our Evidence page), we think this will be about right. We want to allow enough time and accommodate the pace of each participant, too. Some people and dogs! need more time to learn. Others will learn more quickly. Both are okay. Having more time to practice their skills will help all participants gain more confidence!