Monday, May 16, 2011


Just a quick reminder to check out my May Fido Friendly Blog contribution.  Please feel free to leave a comment on their site.  Thanks!

I recently heard of a dog training program in a women's correctional facility in which inmates rehabilitate and eventually find homes for problem dogs.  The women are in charge of every aspect of care-taking and training of these "last chance" dogs - much like a foster mom.  The program takes two socially peripheral groups and allows them to form bonds and work cohesively to emerge stronger and well-balanced.  Brilliant!

The women are incarcerated for a variety of reasons and have plenty of time to form human-canine bonds.  These bonds in turn allow them to experience a kind of honest love that they might have been lacking in the outside world.  All the women interviewed discussed how they had gained trust and self-confidence by working with the dogs.  One went so far as to say she felt "love without the stress to reciprocate it" from the dogs.  What a statement!  So ready or not, the dogs were there to offer their affection and loyalty.  The barriers were down, the purity clear.  

The idea that this kind of relationship could do so much for these women left me in a state of shock.  Although I'm aware of how powerful that canine-human connection can be, I never thought of it changing a life so wholly.  I imagine that being in jail is a truly life-sapping, bottom of the barrel kind of experience.  But then to find that ray of hope!  That single "other" that doesn't care about your crimes or where you are, only that you are there and you are connected!

Now imagine that you are one of these women.  That you have known great pain and little if any love.  That you did something terrible and got caught.  That you are hopeless and tired.  That you have many years ahead of you to live confined.  Now imagine that you're lying on your mattress at night with a warm head on your stomach.  Soft breathing comes more slowly now and you think about waking up to feed and walk the small body stretched out next to you.  Tomorrow is a new day and somebody will be there to share it with you.  Tomorrow.


  1. There's a Dog Whisperer episode called "Pups on Parole" that shows a program like this in Nevada. It's amazing. And the confidence and strength we all need in order to work with our dogs carries over into everyday life. If you get a chance, that's a great episode to watch.

    Rottie Kisses!

  2. It's so amazing that how the dogs can give us those unconditional love. Their love not only warms us but also heals the broken heart.

  3. It's amazing isn't it?? I think it's a BRILLIANT idea myself and as soon as I figure out who to talk to in Saskatchewan, where I live, I'll be lobbying to get such a program going here too! :)

    Jen and the Black Dog Crew

  4. That is a wonderful program. We have read about a similar one for men here in Kansas. For some of those prisoners, a dog can really be a key to a better life.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  5. I truly believe these types of programs that allow the lost to learn how to form bonds and know love are far more effective at rehabilitating than any boot camp is. Hope and possibility and knowing something cares about you are powerful tools.

  6. There are many programmes like this! The organisation my human works for does it - except they aren't "last chance" dogs, they are dogs for people with physical disabilities. Great programme, has a huge positive impact on the prisoners.

    Licks and lots of slobber,
    Lexi and Jasper the Danes

  7. I was blown away when I heard about that program too. It's so powerful and transformative. Dogs give us all the opportunity to be better humans.


The girls and I love to hear from you - please leave us a note!