SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - "He's pretty good at sitting, shaking your hand," said Jeremy Francis.
13-year-old Francis and his partner, Wyatt haven't been together long, but they seemed to be in perfect sync.
"I love dogs, and I don't like cats," chuckled Jeremy. "You learn a lot out of this. When I leave, I'm excited and it makes me want to come back."
Jeremy's one of five boys, and Wyatt one of five dogs who were chosen with a very special purpose in mind.
"Many dogs [are] adopted...many kids' lives [are] touched," said Marilynn Pryor with Pawsitive Hearts.
She says the program pairs at risk dogs with at risk kids. For four weeks, the animal rescue fund dogs will learn obedience from the boys. The training will help the dogs find permanent homes - something some of the boys have rarely seen.
"A lot of these kids have had more than 30 placements by the time they're 15-years-old, so you never get a chance to settle in and have a peer group," said Pryor. "Some of them come from homes where maybe the boy or girl has seen the parent get killed by another parent. It's about breaking that cycle of violence. We think it can be broken in several kids. [It] gives them a huge amount of self-esteem - self-confidence [that] they've finally achieved something.
Skills and a sense of accomplishment which will last a lifetime...
"I feel pretty good," said Francis. "I like it. As we teach them, they may be able to bring other people here and teach them."
Coordinators hope the pilot Pawsitive Hearts program spreads to help more children in group homes across East Texas.