I woke up today to sniffs and licks on my ear from one of the dogs I’m currently caring for. All of them are here for several days as boarders, and there’s nothing more satisfying than to wake to these wonderful animals. I work as an animal trainer in the Staff Dog Program, and as the name implies, each dog is owned by a staffer.
I can’t help but think about the people behind these dogs. Pulling a grip (a long sentence) can numb you to the kindness of others or to seeing the humanity around you. Some convicts view staff in a negative light. Most of this is rooted in misconception, where staff view convicts as untrustworthy, and convicts view staff as out to get them. It’s a terrible stereotype.
However, the vast majority of staff are professionals and treat us with dignity and respect. Contrary to what one may think, the majority of convicts view staff as human beings. They see them as people working to make their living and people we should afford respect and kindness to. As with any social interaction, this is a two- way street.
Yet, I see something more in staff. When a staffer brings his or her dog in for care, it’s often out of necessity. “Thank you so much for watching my dog; please take good care of her,” is often the initial refrain I receive. Within that statement and the variations of it I receive are a number of simple human dignities. Staff bring their dogs in so not to leave them alone at home idled in a kennel, or they bring them in because their pet has separation anxiety. On rare occasions, it’s because they’re tired of replacing the blinds, fixing holes in the furniture, and coming home to a war zone. Mostly, they bring them so that their dog can be a dog and spend the day playing with other dogs. In short, they bring them in because they love them.
When I receive dogs from staff, I often see a side of staff that remains hidden from inmates. Staff rarely exhibit personal emotion through the course of their duties. When staff drop off their dogs, it’s a different story. 8 times out of 10 they hug their dogs before handing them off to me, 9 times out of 10 they verbally say goodbye to their dog, and 100% of the time they look at me and offer some kind word to me for caring for their dog. I see the softer human side of staff, and it’s a side that’s easy to miss in other interactions in This World. It affirms inside me that despite our roles in life, at the core of it all, we’re all human being and we all love. That alone lifts and inspires me. So today I thought I’d share with you some of the very dogs that inspire this love.
The Pekingese dogs are named “Pixie” and “Posh” and are two of the sweetest dogs to exist. The guys around here have taken to calling them the Kardashian twins.
The Great Danes, “Bo” and “Diddy,” are gentle giants, and it was Diddy who woke me this morning.
The sweet Beagle named “Rudy” and the adorable Tibetan-something-or-another (we’re still trying to figure it out) dog named “Farney” are a dynamic duo of joy and happiness!
And “Benji,” the black, melt-your-heart Pug puppy, steals the show.
After all, he IS a puppy.
*If you enjoyed this post, please like and share with your friends. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing for you! Also, if you know of other blogs written by inmates, please let me know because I enjoy reading what other guys write. Frankly, it helps keep me sane.