NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By Alma J. Buelva
A CANINE behavior expert plans to open a unique dog training facility where the trainers will be former drug users. Second Life Academy aims to equip rehabilitated drug users with the right set of skills for basic dog training that they can use to find work later.
The training will be offered for free to ex-drug offenders.
A brainchild of Ronald Lumbao, a professional canine behavior consultant and certified dog trainer with the International Positive Dog Training Association in Canada, Second Life looks at dog training as a way for some ex-drug dependents to re-enter society and succeed in getting a second chance as dog trainers.
The plan is to have three training schools located at Albay in Bicol and somewhere in Metro Manila and North Luzon. Although no facility is up yet, Lumbao said they are now ready to screen and accept applicants to start the first batch of 20 trainees this October.
“Everything is ready except for the facility. We hope to have one fully operational by January 2018,” Lumbao said.
To qualify for the program, Second Life wants applicants who finished high school at least and with recommendation from their barangay and support from their families. Aspiring dog trainers should also pass a written exam and interview to assess if they can work well with dogs.
Each trainee must bring any breed of dog that is not more than three months old for training. Together, the student and the dog will train for 24 weeks. Lumbao said the course involves basic dog obedience training, dog psychology, housebreaking and common behavior problems, among others. The students, on the other hand, will go through theoretical and practical exercises. A certification and endorsement will be awarded to those who will complete and pass the course.
The course will also include work ethics, moral values, basic financial and business management and customer service. While in the program, the ex-drug user will benefit from the therapeutic effects of bonding with dogs, said Lumbao.
“Second Life is about training dogs and transforming former drug users into better persons...At the end of the course, the graduate is equipped with scientific training principles and the foundations for advanced training,” he added.
To ensure the dogs' safety, Second Life promises to employ only positive training system and will not use nasty choke and prong collars on the dogs.
“One of the reasons we are limiting the class to 20 people is to have close supervision...The dogs will be safe from any misuse or abuse of training tools. Trainees caught harming a dog will be expelled immediately,” said Lumbao who will conduct the training along with two other trainers.
The real challenge at the moment is finding organizations to back up Second Life's charitable cause. Lumbao has submitted proposals to companies and a local government unit but has not received a definite support yet.
“For now, we have private individuals helping us,” Lumbao said, adding that there are four ways people and companies can support Second Life's mission of giving new lease of life to past drug offenders.
To help Second Life:
* Endorse the program as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative
* Host a public seminar on Dog Life Balance
* Buy Lumbao's books (Mag Aso Ay Di Biro, Nanaginip Ba Ang Aso, and Dog-Life Balance)
To know more about Lumbao and his dog-centric undertakings and advocacies, visit traildogs.ph
*When animals rock, literally