Today’s top news story is about applause for paws, and one so beautiful that it made this old fart cry. Happy tears. You see, I came across the story then did some digging into what’s going on with all those souls society secrets away into emotional voids known as penal institutions, and what’s being done to break their tragic cycles of crime. And I have to admit that what I found was a side of humanity I never expected. You see, it appears there’s a whole lot of folks today who are no longer satisfied with just standing by and watching humans rot, so these self-motivated amazing heroes perform wonderful life-changing acts of love that I think are worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.
Programs That Literally Save Lives
I speak of forward thinking penal institutions, remarkable saviors, and tortured souls being healed. And not just human souls. All across North America (and in many parts of the world now) brilliant minds and beautiful hearts have collaborated to create programs that literally save lives. All kinds of lives. Programs that integrate prisoners with animals, and animals with prisoners. Marvelously magic programs that bring together lost and lonely souls. Souls whose stories are heart-wrenching and unjust. Hurt and abused souls who inwardly weep for love.
Pet Facilitated Therapy
Known as ‘Pet Facilitated Therapy’ (PTF), some prisons establish the program for the sole benefit of the inmates, while others implement them with the added goal of saving unwanted animals. There are varying types, from companion animals brought in once a week, to animals and inmates living together 24/7 in cell blocks. But regardless of the duration of exposure, there is an instant emotional chemistry that’s triggered when very different animals recognize kindred souls, and the shackles of hearts fall to the floor. And it seems not to matter what kind of pet is used, large or small, domestic or wild, once beings in need near each other, the attraction is nothing short of magnetic.
Recipe For Disaster
The most common animals used are dogs, but many institutions today also use cats because they tend to be quieter and calmer. And of the programs that I found, the one that brought me to tears was one that brought prisoners together with pets destined to be destroyed due to issues that meant they had little to no chance of adoption. Now you’d think that throwing two creatures locked away because of unacceptable behaviors into a room together would be a recipe for disaster, until you’ve seen it done and watched the immediate understanding pass between their eyes, the instinctive bond of the injured.
Cages Are Cages
While their cages are different, they are cages nonetheless. Both types of prisoners are antisocial. Often both have been horribly hurt and did whatever they knew to do in order to survive. Both tragically know the very real feeling of being unwanted. And bridging the gap between them are the wings of angels. Living angels whose hearts know no measure, and whose motivation is unconditional love. They do what the greatest therapeutic minds could not, they initiate and facilitate a natural healing method called ‘love’. Like master emotional carpenters, they create incredibly strong bonds between souls. And the transformation of participants – two and four legged – is nothing short of remarkable.
Troubled Prisoners Transform Into Model Inmates
Violent offenders become loving and nurturing as they and their animal mates learn trust, to give, and most importantly, experience love, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Troubled prisoners transform into model inmates, and hopelessly unadoptable pets change so drastically there’s a waiting list to adopt them. Men and women who would likely have spent their lives lost in the revolving doors of the justice system break free, many to only ever see judges again on TV. While their inner horrors will never go away, they at last have purpose. They finally realize what they really desire, and know just how to get it. People who once couldn’t care less suddenly become people who couldn’t care more, and miraculously, thousands of animals have gone to loving homes instead of being ‘euthanized’.
Heads, Hearts, Hands and Health
Watching the look in the eyes of both prisoners and pets made my eyes swell with tears, for it reminded me of just remarkable we all can be, given the right opportunity. However, I must admit that it did upset me a might too, because darn near all the programs are ran by ‘volunteers’, a fancy term for ‘lack of funding’. These are literally life-changing and life-saving rehabilitative programs, and they have to beg for help? What in Sam’s hell is wrong with decision makers? Perhaps while their funding needle exchange programs they could also find a few dollars for life exchange programs, because all lives matter. In the meantime, I urge all those with ‘extra’ time on their hands to ask their local shelters about their prisoner/pet programs, and if they don’t have one, consider starting one. It’s novel adaptation of the 4-H program, which is all about ‘heads, hearts, hands and health’.
Prisoners Train Service Dogs
One such program, Pawsitive Directions, Canada’s first pet facilitated therapy program, was developed by Heather A. Logan for Correctional Services Canada in 1995. Pawsitive Directions was targeted to female offenders, and was a three-phase program that taught inmates the principles of Operant Conditioning Behaviour Analysis and all aspects of dog care and training, trained rescue/service dogs, and found forever homes for strays in the community. Service Dogs were trained for stroke and polio survivors, the sight impaired, children with autism, cerebral palsy, and people with a wide range of mobility challenges. In the process, a great many lives where made so much better, and in so many ways. Needless to say, it’s this old fart’s opinion that Heather deserves both the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia for all of her amazing work.
Please Pause To Provide Applause For Paws
Heather started Cloverdale Animal Behaviour Service in 1971, and has trained thousands of dogs during her career, as well as many other species, including goats, alpacas, cats, cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits, horses, mink – even a grizzly bear and a giraffe! Today the “Cloverfield Specialist Trainer Program” is her newest program. Students earn both a dog training teaching certification, and service dog trainer certification as they train service dogs for many needs, including PTSD, autism, mobility issues and more, in conjunction with the Maritime Specialty Service Dogs Society. Heather’s now semi-retired, and has greatly reduced her teaching load. However, she still takes a small number of specialized students, pairs students with her qualified apprentices, and continues providing behaviour consultation. If you have a few moments, visit her website and drop her a line or two of gratitude.
To check out more top news stories click here, and be sure to browse my other news topics too!