The girls at Ashley House are giving Truman another chance. Truman is a rescue dog, a golden collie mix, living at the Transitional Living home in Springfield.
In a project called Foster to Forever, the 10 teenagers nurture a dog that has been neglected or abandoned, and prepare it for adoption. According to Alisa Griffiths, site director of Ashley House, the girls manage every aspect of the project. They develop responsibility and empathy, starting with the choice of a dog from a shelter, Rescue One.
“A lot of rescue dogs have separation anxiety,” Griffiths states. “They do well with us because, with 16 staff who come and go and 10 girls living here, there is always someone here to give the dog a pat or a squeeze. Comforting a dog is good for the girls, too, who all come from traumatic backgrounds. They need to learn empathy and express affection.”
They also face some of their own issues about being in foster care. “We take the dog that we think needs us the most,” says one participant, “and we try to love them just the way they are!”
“All of the girls can relate to these dogs that are harder to place,” Griffiths says. “It’s a healing situation for everyone.”