“Grady and I will begin a new Prison Program tomorrow. Grady has been with me for several weeks and is learning so much everyday. Tomorrow, he will go to prison and work with an inmate for 2 weeks, and then I will pick him up and work with him for 2 weeks, and then he will go back to prison for 2 weeks and so on.
While raising 8 service dogs in training, I’ve loved documenting their lives. I also love sharing information about service dogs and the important role they play in a persons life. I’ve had many questions about their timeline on how they became service dogs, and I always get several questions when I say that my dogs were part of a prison program as puppies.
4 Paws for Ability works with several prison programs in Ohio and Kentucky. Although many people may think it’s “scary” to send a puppy to prison to work with an inmate, it is actually quite different. It is such an amazing opportunity for puppies to work 1:1 24/7 with an inmate.
Years ago, I shared my experience with one of my foster dogs, Anu, and his time in a program at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (EKCC). This story comes to mind so often, and I’d love to share it again for people to understand not only how beneficial it can be for a service dog in training to spend time with an inmate, but also how these dogs can change an inmates life
When I fostered Anu in 2018, I was also working at 4 Paws for Ability for the summer. I had the opportunity to visit the prison several times to watch the inmates work with the puppies. When it was time for me to pick up Anu from his inmate to begin his year long training with me, I received a 10 page, handwritten letter from his inmate describing every single thing Anu did during his time there. I will never forget reading the letter and crying at how much of an impact Anu made on his inmates life. In part of his letter, his inmate wrote:
“I can’t think of a better feeling to start each day. I can’t think of a single word that describes everything I am feeling by watching Anu and listening to all of Anu’s antics. Joy, contentment, peaceful, enamored, and cherish, etc? Is there such a word or concept?
And just like that, I know the answer. The word or concept for all these warm feelings. Privilege. It’s simply a privilege to have Anu here and to feel these nice things”
Grady will be back with me in two weeks, but I can rest assured that his inmate will love and care for him through these next two weeks.
It takes a village to raise a service dog.” -Abby