Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday at CARES

Today was an earlier start as we had to drive over an hour to the  Correctional Facility. I knew it would be a moving experience but really was not quite sure what to expect...

We were brought in and taken through the metal detectors one at a time. Went through a few doors and were taken into the cafeteria. The men were already sitting there with dogs, about 9 in total. Mavery was ecstatic to see TWO baby goldens!

It took awhile to get us all in and settled, but we made it. The sweetest thing was when the Great Dane came in and she saw the men, and they saw her. They ALL knew Lexie, the Great Dane! You can tell she was loved. All of the dogs seemed a bit more "cheery", as if they recognized this place. Funny to think how much dogs can remember.

As we got started each of the men introduced themselves, how long they have been training dogs and the dog they are working with now.  Then the "head" guy spoke.

Picture this if you will. We are in prison. The guy is what you would probably picture to see. And then he starts talking.

He shared many things but what I heard was one word.


Because of what they have done in their past, there is a victim.

Through this program, they can try to redeem that through something good.

They can't look back at their past, they can only look forward.

They hope that through what they are giving by working with the dogs, someone will be blessed.

I was once again wiping away the tears.

The pride in their faces as they talked about being in the dog program was just so moving.

Here are guys that are just, well, not good to most people. In all honesty people that I would not think much of. In Jail? Obviously something happened.

But to hear them speak of these dogs? My heart was moved.

They give SO much to these dogs. They get puppies, they get older dogs, and they give them their all. From morning till night they work with the dogs.

They sleep with the dogs. They do not take a break from these dogs.

And they take that job so seriously. They LOVE these dogs.

And it is obvious the dogs love them.

Imagine it.. They don't get much contact with anyone. But they now get a friend. And this furry friend doesn't judge ANYTHING about their past, or their looks or their future.

Redemption can come in many forms.

To be in the program there are rules. You have to prove yourself to even get in. Staying out of trouble. You apply, you get chosen, you have to show that your dog is improving. This is the only job there that is NOT paid. So this is a volunteer thing.


We were able to spend some time talking to each of them. Unfortunately Pixie was at the other prison so we did not meet her trainer. But we did get some tips on working with her, and enjoyed the entire experience.

So weird to say. We really enjoyed our time in prison. ;-)

We left there and headed to Applebee's to eat as a group. A very busy Applebees, which was a good test. Pixie is not phased by anything so far.

From there we went to the mall for testing. Much of it they just wanted everyone walking/shopping with their dogs. Then they did some tests of leaving your dog, calling your dog, leaving your dog again while food was dropped in front of your dog.

I know I have said this before, but the magic of how these dogs were matched up with EXACTLY who they should be matched with, it is just a miracle, really.

Again, as I watched all of these exercises unfold I was moved. Thinking back to day 2 and now day 4, there is not even hesitation on ANYONE's part as they call their dog.

It is both sides who are saying, you are MINE. I am not letting go and I am not making a move with out your direction.

I wish you could all be here to see this happening. I wish you could hear the stories of mama's or wife's who haven't slept in 10 years because their loved one has diabetes and has to be checked in the night. They can now REST because their dogs are alerting them while they sleep!

The stories are enough to make me weep. And as I look at my own daughter today, calling her dog across that mall, I do weep.

We ARE seeing a change in Mavery. She is calmer, she is happy, she is confidant. She is taking ownership and she is in love with Pixie.

She says, Pixie is MINE. And I know Pixie is saying the same thing.

Tonight we went to the pool and Pixie wanted in terribly. While I know the hotel is used to CARES dogs, I was not so sure they would enjoy the dog hair in the pool. I took her back to the room and she whined. She has not done that.

Because she knows she is not mine, she is Mavery's and she was not here!

Tomorrow is a bit more training, then graduation. I wish that our family could be here to see it all. But I am thankful for this time with Mavery. It would have been hard for her to have the distraction of everyone. And maybe hard on Pixie. Today at the mall were TONS of kids and you can tell she loves children. Thank goodness! Now the real question is, does she like really annoying yappy dogs?? That is going to be interesting as she meets Hershey.

As I meet all these families and listen to the stories, and share our story I am so thankful for this life I get to live. So thankful for an amazing God who has written our story, and who has redeemed me.


netty said...

There is a guide dog company in town that ONLY used prison inmates as their "puppy raisers" for years. During that time, NONE of the trainers that left prison was reconvicted of a crime. NONE of them broke their probation. I don't know of any other prison rehabilitation program that has those statistics. (Unfortunately, the prison is no longer allowing the dogs to come. I don't understand why.)

Courtney Kaufman said...

This is such a joy to read. I am so grateful that you are allowing us to follow Mavery and Pixies journey. Best wishes for continued success as you head out into the real world.

Catherine Morrison said...

Welcome to the CARES family!!!! Usher joined our family June 2012. He has brought joy, independence & laughter to our lives. He is Courtney's best friend. We are forever grateful to the entire team that made it all possible.