By Lillian Ramirez-Velasquez
It has been known for many years that dogs can help relieve stress and anxiety. However, training dogs not only relieves stress and anxiety, but it can help teach leadership skills. On campus we are lucky enough to have a dog training program after school; this program is run by Katie Baker, a Woodlake alumni. During her high school years, she had the amazing opportunity to train dogs, and has continued the tradition by bringing the program back to campus.
When asked what made her want to bring the program back, Katie explained how the program was a big part of her life in high school, and how it gave her reason to get up in the morning. She believes that bringing the program back to Woodlake High will bring the students much joy and help teach wonderful life skills. Usually, when people choose a puppy/dog they want in their lives, they go for one that is the “cutest”, but when it comes to dog training, the dog and students veer towards who they think matches their personality best. However according to Katie, once the students begin to spend time with the dogs and learn their personality “they often end up with dogs who are quite different from themselves”. When this happens, Katie takes advantage and uses the moment to teach the students a life lesson- learning how to deal with personalities that do not always mesh well with theirs. This gives the students a chance to view things from another perspective and how to work with conflicting opinions.
When asked the big question of how training the dogs has changed her life, Katie not only said that it has shaped her into the person she is today, but it even helped her meet her husband and she “honestly couldn’t be luckier”.
Mia Villegas, a student in the program, was asked the same question. Mia responded that, “Training the dogs has made me more patient and social than ever before. Being around the dogs has even made me happier”.
Eric Zacarias, another student in the program, was asked one of the most important questions; the question being whether or not he believes the program has been beneficial to him and whether or not it would be beneficial to others. Eric replied saying, “This program has benefited me by showing me that even annoying people can help make a difference, and even stubborn dogs can be trained. This program can help others with anxiety, depression, or any other problem they may be experiencing, just being around the dogs can take a person’s mind off of their problems and make them happy”.
High school is an environment that can sometimes be very stressful, and having this program on campus is a great way to take your mind off of things. Not only is this program beneficial to the students who train the dogs, but once the dogs are fully trained, they are given to people who have disabilities. The dog training program is a great way to help students realize that something so simple can go a long ways.
If you would like to participate, the program is Monday thru Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 in room 3.