Westmont Magazine Training Dogs and People
When Doré Charbonneau ’84 adopted a house full of puppies from a local shelter, she had no idea of the devastation to come. As the energetic pups began feasting on her furniture, she made a desperate call to Matthew Margolis for help.
Founder of the National Institute of Dog Training and author of 17 books, “Uncle Matty” is famous for his approach to dog training. As he offered advice on taming the young dogs, the two of them began lamenting the tragedy of unwanted dogs in overcrowded shelters.
The conversation turned to Doré’s work as executive director of development for the Southern California division of the Salvation Army. They agreed that dogs aren’t the only ones in need of a fresh start.
From that discussion grew the first Salvation Army program designed to teach people who need a second chance how to train dogs. The Woof! (Work Opportunities for Outstanding Futures) course began at the Whittier Salvation Army with 40 students, nearly all of them already active in classes for the addicted, abused, homeless and jobless. “Uncle Matty” taught the dog training classes, which also included a few sessions on basic business strategies. Ten weeks later 20 graduates proudly related that the program had given them skills to use and hope in facing the future.
Doré is thrilled with the success of WOOF! and excited about its impact. “The dog program has received so much positive attention both locally and nationally,” she notes. “PBS is including it in the next Matthew Margolis series to be shown in the fall, Dog Fancy and Dog World (both national dog magazines) ran stories last month, and two producers have discussed turning the story into a made-for-TV movie. Best of all, our dog training program graduates are starting to get work. One has started his own business — and has clients!”
WOOF! has received additional funding and will begin again in October, and Doré hopes that it will become a nationwide Salvation Army program.
Doré lives in Altadena, Calif., with her now obedient and well-trained dogs.