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THE UNDERDOG PROJECTHealing, one bark at a time!Bruce CoetzeeWhat is The Underdog Project, and who do they help? Well, we could give you the nuts and bolts of this incredible non profit organisation, but would rather showcase their testament of passion and commitment, that has become a beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak future, for at risk children and youth. Working within the humane education sector, which essentially strives to facilitate children from underprivileged areas through various therapy approaches, these canine crusaders seek to, build bridges between two distinct species. This is achieved by teaming each youth with a specific dog from the shelter centre. Each human is taught how to interact and train their partner dog using positive reinforcement techniques and hands on guidance is afforded throughout the process.
The initiative works hand in hand with a shelter, and offers the opportunity for both youth and dogs to engage in a safe, positive atmosphere. Nina Slabber has been at the helm since 2017 and her reference and love for her work is far beyond the ability of words to describe.
Youth from informal areas are susceptible to the effects of gangs, and as a result often fall into social groups who live in a world of violence. Through offering an open, and safe environment, while approaching each course of therapy based on keynote behaviour patterns, Nina and her team provide animal assisted therapy reinforced by a nurturing atmosphere. While animal assisted interventions are able to assist in emotional and physiological reparation, the approach also imparts valuable life skills to youth, that would otherwise simply add to the increasing numbers of children desperate for a chance at life. The core of Nina’s program is to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship by providing a path of hope for both humans and dogs. The training and skills acquired through positive reinforcement helps in the dogs adoption process, offering these canine helpers better odds at finding that forever home! The Underdog Project has had a phenomenal impact since it began in 2011, however it was the adoption of Nina’s canine companion in 2013 that really set her on the path that has seen the initiative grow and develop. After realising that her soon to be adoption dog had come to the shelter in a very bad way, Nina felt compelled to volunteer, and subsequently joined The Underdog Project team!
The simple, empathetic approach to assisting humans while at the same time giving hope to animals that have suffered at the hands of mankind ignited a drive in Nina, who at the time was employed in the film industry. She chose to answer the calling, and as a result has committed herself to the project in body and spirit, from the word go!
The Underdog Project is a non profit organisation, and therefore relies on the kind-hearted assistance of public entities, in order to continue achieving the incredible results they have thus far. It is through tireless sacrifice and consistent efforts that Nina and the volunteers at the shelter fight the good fight each and every day in their plight to heal our youth, one bark at a time!