All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Friday, September 21, 2012

Going to the dogs

My friend Dodie doesn't belong in prison. She should have been out long ago. She hasn't been treated fairly, and there's no guarantee that things will ever change. But rather than sit and whine about it, she is involved in the most amazing program. it's called MI-PAWS (Michigan Inmates Providing Assistance Work & Service). It involves dogs. It's a program operated jointly by the Humane Society of Huron Valley and the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Dodie is one of the inmates hand-selected to participate in the program. She is expecting a new dog any day will be her 12th! Each dog lives around the clock with inmate handlers for eight weeks. The women work with the animals on different aspects of training which will make them highly adoptable at the end of their stay.

It's important to point out that these weren't choice dogs to begin with. Some have been abandoned by their owners, or just surrendered. Some have been injured by fights. Some are very afraid, either of people or of other dogs.

It's an around-the-clock assignment, starting at 6:30 AM for a potty break, and ending at night sleeping on a state mattress on the floor of the cell. Each dog learns basic commands such as sit, down, come, etc. They will be house-trained, be able to walk on a leash, and most likely will know some tricks that will make them proud.

Dodie points out that this does more than benefit the dogs. She said, "It softens prisoners hearts, teaches us patience, communication with other team members, conflict resolution, and to be held accountable for our actions." She said, "you really need people skills," and points out that it has been especially helpful for prisoners who did not like dogs or who were afraid of animals. "Gentleness and compassion is a must on all ends," she states.

Says our friend: "Joy and further growth in us is in saving a dog's life."

Methinks it's doing a good job of saving prisoner's lives as well.

All creatures great and small...the Lord God made them all.

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