I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant, and I am also a Christian who believes in grace and second chances in life, so when I was first introduced to the Operation Second Chance Jail Dog Program I was intrigued. The dogs for this program are pulled from the Gwinnett Shelter's death row and given a second chance to find a permanent home. When I became involved with the program I had no idea how much of an impact this notion of "second chances" with the dogs was also equally impacting the inmates in the equation.
Over the last year I have been called in to help with some of the dogs who have had some behavioral challenges and also to show the inmates how to play mentally stimulating Nose Work training games with the dogs. In addition to having a great time teaching the dogs and inmates, every time I leave the correctional facility I am struck by the visible impact that living and training the dogs has had on the inmates. A few months ago while working with one of the dogs and his primary inmate handler, I had a conversation with the inmate about positive reinforcement training, and the concept of training without force, and the patience that is required to implement that method. The inmate said that training his dog that way had changed his life. When I asked how so, he said "I've learned through positive training that you cannot take short cuts and get good results...and when I get out of here I'm going to remember that taking short cuts in life, like I did previously, never leads to good results." I was speechless. What an incredible life lesson to learn from training a dog.
There are many other stories of life lessons learned through the relationships these inmates have built through training these shelter dogs. I am such a fan of this program that my company is dedicating an entire afternoon to helping the Operation Second Chance Jail Dog Program gain some of the important training and enrichment supplies they need to keep investing in these great dogs. Check the Events listing for details on our CCA Family Fun Day at Canine Country Academy this Saturday, November 17th. Come on out and join us in making sure that dogs and humans continue to gain wonderful second chances through this phenomenal program.