My dog, Lulu, is a good companion, never lets me be lonely and plays nicely with others, but she doesn’t do much to earn her keep outside of her friendship. That’s OK with me because I love her.
However, some dogs actually work for a living. They aren’t just for the blind, either.
These highly trained animals are given lots of important roles as service and therapy dogs. They help police sniff out bombs, soldiers returning from war with PTSD, and people with physical disabilities; and they work as rescue dogs.
Puppies Behind Bars
One program that deserves particular merit is Puppies Behind Bars.
This organization gives puppies to carefully screened prisoners. The inmates are required to attend classes, work with trainers to teach basic commands and at all times be responsible for their puppies. After the puppies reach an age where they can be trained for service, they are sent to schools where they receive their advanced training to become service dogs.
Make no mistake, though — these inmates provide a vital service by socializing and giving basic training.
Administrators involved in the program, operating since 1997, do not have any long-term data on the psychological effects on the inmates, but prison officials agree that the program benefits the inmates as much as it benefits the puppies and the people who eventually receive the puppies.
Help With PTSD
Puppies Behind Bars has started a new program that trains service dogs to help veterans returning from war. These dogs are constant companions to help war veterans deal with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
One of the biggest problems faced by someone suffering from PTSD is social isolation. Having a dog means that person has to leave the house at least twice a day for walks.
Often, people with PTSD have trouble in social situations involving crowds — going to the movies, the grocery store or other normal activities. A service dog can be trained to gently alert the person to approaching crowds or position itself between the person and a stranger who is approaching, providing a feeling of security.
PTSD symptoms also include horrifying nightmares. Having a dog calmly sleeping nearby can let a person know that everything is all right.
Check out this moving video:
With Puppies Behind Bars, everyone wins:
- Inmates learn a profound sense of responsibility and are able to give back to the community rather than take from it.
- Someone else in need of a little extra help gets a faithful companion.