Catching Up With Second Chance Pups: Willow

Second Chance Pups is an amazing program. When I tell people where our family adopted Willow from, most people have not heard of the program. I’m so happy that we adopted from SCP.—Tia Taege.

Two years ago, I interviewed the two ladies—Kim Osterman and Melissa Ripley—who run the Second Chance Pups program. When they invited me to observe the program in action, not only did I jump at the chance, but I began planning a series. Five articles later I knew that there were still more stories I wanted to share about this unique program, which pairs inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary with unwanted dogs in need of training. Earlier this week, for example, I shared an interview with the owner of one of the dogs from the rotation I observed. But I also wanted to talk to families who had adopted prior to my observing the program to get the perspective of someone who had had their SCP dog for more than a year. What follows is an interview with Tia Taege about the dog that her family adopted from SCP in the fall of 2015.

Photo provided by family
Photo provided by family

ALLISON: How did you first hear of Second Chance Pups?

TIA: My Aunt and Uncle adopted from SCP a few years prior, and their dog is just the sweetest girl. When I bought a house, my kids and I decided we wanted to add to our family, and we wanted to adopt from SCP.

ALLISON: Tell me a little about the dog you adopted from them.

TIA: Her name was Maggie but we changed it to Willow. She has so much personality and everyone that meets her falls in love with her. She’s also very loyal. Willow is so much a part of the family, she goes everywhere with us. She’s been so spoiled; sometimes she’s naughty if she doesn’t get to go with us. Willow is always right next to one of us. She loves dogs too and thinks they are all her friends. Willow is very special!

ALLISON: Why did you pick Willow?

Photo provided by family
Photo provided by family

TIA: When we saw a picture of Willow, it was her face we fell in love with. Even though she didn’t have “a home,” she looked like a happy girl. She’s also a beautiful dog, with markings you don’t see very often. Willow was the only one we asked to meet.

ALLISON: What was it like to meet Willow?

TIA: We went to the prison to meet her. She was shy but very good with the kids. Lane was 9 and Olivia was 8 when we adopted her.

ALLISON: What do you know about Willow’s background?

TIA: I’m pretty sure that someone mistreated her. She’s generally friendly with everyone. But with guys, she’s a lot more cautious and there are certain guys she does not like at all. If you raise your voice at her she cowers. She had to have medicine in her ears and the easiest way was to put her in between my legs, and when I did that she cowered and peed. She hates it too if your head gets close to her tummy or legs. Even now if she’s cuddling and you move it startles her and she jumps up. It breaks my heart to even think of someone mistreating my sweet girl.

ALLISON: What support did you receive from Second Chance Pups?

TIA: Melissa is awesome! I emailed her throughout the program with questions and got updates with how Willow was doing. I still talk to her and ask her advice. She does so much for the program as well as Kim.

ALLISON: Tell me a little about how Willow adjusted to your home.

TIA: She adjusted reasonably well. It didn’t take her long to become completely comfortable. The first couple of weeks we kenneled her when we left, but now she has run of the house when we’re gone.

ALLISON: How has life changed for you because of the adoption?

TIA: Willow has made our family so happy and we love her to pieces. She’s amazing!

ALLISON: Do you have any funny anecdotes about Willow?

TIA: The first Thanksgiving she was with us will be one that we’ll never forget. Because she’s part of the family, she goes to all family gatherings. We went to her new fur cousin’s for Thanksgiving and we were given leftovers to take home. Turkey, stuffing, roll ups, potatoes and pies. The box was taped up with duct tape, to insure she would not get into the food. We had to make a quick stop on the way home. She was in the car with the food. When we got back, she’d turned the box over and gone in underneath and eaten EVERYTHING! Surprisingly, she didn’t get sick. She just curled up and went to sleep. Now every year they ask Willow what kind of pie she wants for the holidays.

ALLISON: What do you think of the Second Chance Pups program?

TIA: All the dogs I have met from SCP are all great dogs and deserve a second chance. All dogs want is to love and be loved. They’re also all trained which is a huge plus. I think it’s a great program for the inmates as well; it shows them responsibility as well as loyalty and love.

Photo provided by family
Photo provided by family

Written by Allison and Andy Frederick
Photographs by Andy Frederick

Read the next article in this series: Catching Up with Second Chance Pups: Winter

Read the previous article in this series: Catching Up with Second Chance Pups: Ripley

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