A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS TAIL! A day according to Casper, A Prison PAALS trainee, written by one of his inmate handlers.
“I don’t know what day it is, but I woke up and my trainer took me out……My trainer took the round things out and I got them when he threw them and brought it back when he said “get it”. I sure like doing that. Then my trainer brushes my teeth. Then he brushes my hair. I walk with my trainer to see my friends Jen, Sheri (PAALS trainers), and everyone else……When the training was over, my trainer took me back to my kennel after stopping for a potty break. My trainer came in after awhile of being out with that tall guy next door. I got to go through them doors after practicing “Waits” and “Let’s GO” cues. HA, I heard that, we’re off walking and walking. I’ll keep watching him to see what’s next. Hmmmm! Sniff-Sniff. I smell something strange. It’s one of those furry animals (stray cats). I’d like to check that out and we’re going the right way. “Pup, Pup”, oh darn what now? I’m watching you trainer, oh good food. It’s really kool now, we’re walking back, now he wants me to “say hello” again and again (how PAALS dogs practice meeting people while working). I know I’m doing it right cause he’s telling me “atta boy” and giving me food. This is really fun, here we go running! While I didn’t know this old person could do that. Now, I’m stopping, let me catch my breath. Oh good he said “Down.” This feels good, after he works the sits, downs, and everything. Alright, we’re going in through the doors again. Watch it fellow I’m coming through. Good, last door, wow where did all these guys come from? Yeah I’m looking at you “don’t touch” unless my trainer says so.”
From the Warden:
“The prison PAALS program began this year with six inmates. One primary and one alternate for each of the puppies, Casper, Katie and A.J. (The progam added another dog, Spirit and 6 more inmates since then). It seemed at first the inmates in the general population did not like the idea of having dogs on the prison yard because they thought they would be using the bathroom all over the place and just basically getting in the way. The inmates who were chosen for the program not only stepped up to the plate with puppies but they fell in love with them.
On October 28th one of the original handlers was feeling poorly and had reported to medical to be seen. At this point he did not indicate that he was in any acute distress and as always carried his pup with him. To show you how much these guys care for these puppies this inmate handler left medical and walked back down to his living unit handed the puppy off and started to walk back to medical. His priority was his dog. Not himself. Once the puppy was taken care of he attempted to go back to medical but his health was going down very quickly. Another inmate helped him into a wheel chair and he went back to medical. He quickly became pale and weak as his pulse was slowing. An ambulance was called, and he was taken to an outside hospital.
He later was admitted to the hospital and remained there until he passed away.
I am telling you this story to let you know how much these puppies mean to the inmates at this prison. It is making a difference in more ways than we will possibly ever know. This inmate’s priority was his dog before his own health.
This program as in the name, Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, not only assists those who they are trained to assist but also to the inmates who train them at the prison, inmates observing the inmates working with the puppies and seeing the love that is shared between the puppies and their handlers but to the staff of the Kershaw prison as well.
As the Warden of the prison I am honored and proud to be a part of this worthy cause. May God continue to bless this prison and this program.
PAALS is grateful for the inmates who give their hearts and time to give back to make a difference. We are especially thankful to Warden Reynolds, Associate Warden McKay and all of their staff for their dedication to Prison PAALS. This holiday season we will especially miss one of our original team handlers who passed away recently. Please remember all of these souls this holiday season.
A special thanks to all the volunteers who donated food for the Prison PAALS holiday celebration!
Yours in Service,
Meet our latest group of Recruits:
Akira and Charlie’s Litter !
Left to right: Radford, RC, Chloe, Roberta
“Red” was sent to another ADI program, East Coast Assistance Dogs, in exchange for Sparks. She flew like a champ and is adjusting well!
VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT !
Special Thanks to Sandra Gaines for helping coordinate our wedding and paals volunteer lunch.
PAALS – Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services
Enriching and empowering children and adults with physical disabilities and social needs by training service animals and providing animal assisted educational and recreational activities.