Training with Second Chance Pups

Ripley wasn’t like the other dogs the handler had trained. The shy four-year-old English Lab had been used in a breeding operation and didn’t know anything about the world or normal life as a pet. While Thomas enjoyed watching her come out of her shell, he found her difficult to work with. Their first week together, she was quick to burn out. After just a few minutes of work she’d just put her head down and stare at the floor. It didn’t matter what treat her handler offered, she wasn’t going to look at him again. She was the “poutiest” dog Thomas had ever trained.

Ripley is one of eight dogs in the thirty-third rotation of Second Chance Pups, a program that pairs inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary with unwanted dogs in need of training. To find dogs for the program, SCP looks for owner surrenders, unclaimed strays, and returned shelter dogs. Whatever the source, the program seeks dogs that require training before they can be considered adoptable. The only restriction is that all dogs they take on must get along with other dogs.

Kim’s very observant on our disposition, on how we handle ourselves with training the dogs. She’s aware of what type of personality we exude. She pays attention to that. Sometimes she tries to direct us into certain dogs.—Thomas, SCP Handler

The selected dogs are then matched with that rotation’s handlers. The most experienced handlers will get the most challenging dogs. Quiet, patient handlers will get dogs that that don’t respond well to loud voices or harsh corrections. Handlers that prefer big dogs will get big dogs. Each dog typically receives a primary handler and a secondary handler. If the primary handler isn’t available for any reason—for example, if he has a doctor’s appointment or a job that that he can’t bring the dog to—the secondary handler will look after the dog. The program is designed to be a good experience for everyone involved.

Thomas&Ripley_Group
SCP handlers practicing a command with their dogs

Thomas has been in the SCP program for just under two years now. Ripley is his ninth dog. Melissa Ripley (that Ripley the dog’s name is the same as her last name is just a coincidence), the program’s Adoption Coordinator, says Thomas is very easy to get along with: “He’s also very calm and softer spoken so we send a lot of the softer dogs to him.  He does well with these dogs and Ripley was a little timid and a softer dog.”

Although he’s open to taking any dog, Thomas prefers dogs that struggle: “I think it teaches me more, if I have to work harder for the dog. A dog that struggles more, that fights you more, you gotta think of more stuff, or you might get the feet stuff or the hand stuff wrong.” But Thomas will also take the easier, peaceful, loving, fast-learning dogs, which he says also help him sharpen his skills: “I’m getting to master the commands better because the dogs are helping me, they’re just so easy to get along with.” He tries to learn something from every dog, because he never knows what’s going to come his way.

Thomas quickly realized that Ripley would take work. Because she had come from a breeding operation, Ripley was slow to bond with anyone, everything was new and scary to her, and she didn’t know how to play. When it came to training, Thomas says Ripley started out clumsy, lazy, and stubborn. Thomas would need to teach her both socialization and obedience skills, but that’s not uncommon for the dogs who come to SCP.

SCP dogs are trained in three different ways. First, there is socialization, which happens by virtue of the dogs living with their handlers for nine weeks. Explains Melissa, “The dogs learn socialization by being in the housing units and around other people.  They get love and attention and learn to trust people, whereas they may not have known that before.  They learn basic house manners, how to go potty outside, how to be on furniture, around people food, etc.  The constant care and affection is something every dog loves!”

Second, there’s the weekly formal training led by Kim Osterman, director of the SCP program. On a typical training day, Kim and Melissa practice and build on the previously-learned commands and learn new commands.  These sessions generally last about an hour.

Finally, there’s daily formal training with the handlers. Thomas describes his typical training regimen: “I come down here in the morning and I’m down here from 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock, and I train as much as I can in that two hours without pushing them too much.” Even when handlers aren’t doing formal training, they’re still training the dogs because obedience commands help dogs know how to behave in various situations. For example, if the dog stands and puts its front paws on anyone, the handler will command OFF and, if necessary, follow with a leash correction to teach the dog what OFF means. Other commands that a dog will learn through common informal interactions are SIT, STAY, and COME.

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Thomas and Ripley

As the days and weeks pass, Thomas sees Ripley become more curious. “A lot of stuff is interesting to her and she wants to go up and check out. You can tell she’s lovin’ it.” Over time, Ripley also becomes more social. “When you get the baby talk going and you play with her she just gets this huge smile on her big wide face and you can just tell she’s smiling, and her eyes, her face lights up. You can tell she’s lovin’ the whole experience. Whether she gets scared from time to time or not.” Within only three weeks, Ripley has proved herself “a huge people person. She thinks everybody should be pettin’ her. Showing her attention. So that’s what I love about her. As naive as she is about everything, this and that, there’s not a person she won’t go up to, get kisses and pettin’. She’s like a big teddy bear.” As the program progresses, Ripley also starts to learn to play with toys and even with other dogs.

We sometimes have inmates who want to get involved in the program but they don’t realize how much work it involves. It’s a lot of work to have a dog with you all day, every day and to be solely responsible for that dog, and sometimes they don’t realize that.—Melissa Ripley, SCP Adoption Coordinator

Andy and I have returned to the penitentiary to observe the third week of SCP training. When we arrive, the handlers are wearing their SCP shirts.  Updates on adoption inquiries are given: interest has been expressed in most of the dogs. Melissa checks in with handlers to see if they have any questions or concerns. There’s a brief conversation about the amount of food to give particular dogs. Then Kim begins the class.

With Kim this week is Jack, a five-month old black lab. The handlers incorporate Jack into their meet-and-greets—two handlers approach each other and say hello while their dogs sit calmly at their sides—so the SCP dogs can learn to ignore an unknown dog.

Next, the handlers practice WALK, SIT, and DOWN, with their dogs on loose leashes. The primary handlers go first. Treats are still being used as rewards. Some handlers hold the leash to the side; others at their back. When Kim calls STOP, handlers command their dogs to SIT. Some of the dogs require commands to be repeated before they’ll respond. Some want to interact with their handler instead of focusing on the command. Whenever the dogs obey the issued command, the handlers offer ample praise, petting, and treats.

Two commands are added to SIT. Teaching the dogs to WALK, SIT, and ABOUT is recognized as the easiest for this group. In contrast, teaching the dogs to WALK, SIT, and DOWN is the hardest and takes more work. No matter which command is given, the dogs assigned to the newest handlers seem to respond more slowly, collide with their handlers more often, and don’t shadow their handlers as closely.

Handler&Reggie
A SCP handler commands Reggie to SIT

Kim asks if the dogs can do a WAIT for 30 seconds. The handlers say 15 seconds, but about half of the dogs struggle to WAIT for this brief amount of time. Some dogs lie down instead of sit. Others break from their positions, move about, and try to interact with other dogs or with their handlers. Handlers seek advice from Kim or others.

COME is the next command. Some of the dogs are eager to reunite with their handlers. When they do, they’re greeted with hugs and praise. Several aren’t performing up to par. Some wander, some run past their handlers. Halfway into the training session, Kim stops to lecture the group. She’s given good examples, but she isn’t seeing follow through and she wants to know the reason.

I really like helping the handlers learn and love seeing them growing with their training skills!  Some are just naturals and others take time and even weekly reminders of how to execute a command.—Kim Osterman, SCP Director

Kim singles out Baxter for his poor performance. Handlers jokingly call out, “Way to go, Baxter!” Kim brings the one-and-a-half-year-old Lab mix to the front to demonstrate. A handler makes the suggestion to break the command COME into two parts: COME and RETURN.

Baxter remains with Kim as she demonstrates the command PLACE. At the sight of a platform made of PVC and canvas, the dogs start to relax. Kim tells handlers to walk around the table and say PLACE when their dog goes onto the platform. Then they should say FREE to release their dog. Baxter performs this skill well. His handler boasts, “He got this down 20 minutes ago!”

At this point Kim tells the class, “My voice is going and so I can’t yell.” A handler jokingly shouts, “What?”

Kim has needed to speak loudly to be heard over the noisy ventilation system. Now it finally cuts out and a handler says, “That’s better.”

Kim&Jack
Kim demonstrates a command with Baxter

The LEAVE IT command is next. Kim throws the ball so she can tell Baxter to LEAVE IT. But Baxter is too interested in Kim’s clipboard to notice the ball. A handler asks how to work on the command if the dog isn’t interested in toys. Kim explains that LEAVE IT is a universal command to tell the dog to leave alone any person, dog, or food; not just toys.

Entering this third week, Ripley has mastered walking by her handler’s side, as well as SIT and even DOWN. Yet she still presents Thomas with a challenge. “She’s like, ‘I’m not lookin’ at you right now.’ Cuz she knows that ‘you’re gonna make me do stuff that I don’t want to do’. And it’s like ‘Really, Ripley? Ripley, can you sit? Ripley, show me sit.’ She’ll stiffen up…. and I’m like, ‘are you serious?’ That’s where the frustration part comes in cuz she knows now, she’s learned, I’ve taught her. Basically what she’s showing me is that she don’t want to do it and she’s gonna pout to not do it.” Sometimes Ripley, much like a little kid, insists on having her own way. To deal with the stress this causes Thomas, he will put her in time out to give them both time away from each other. “But then I’ll go back over and baby talk her up and get her back up and try to train her a little bit.”

She’s wantin’ to please me and at first she didn’t and now she’s realizing that, ‘okay, this is what this guy wants, and he treats me good, so I’m gonna go ahead and do it.’ It’s almost like that process for me is just like, you know, I’m making that connection, I’m making that bond. I’m not the one that’s just going to make her pout. I’m the one that’s going to potentially teach her something and take care of her. Put that big smile on her face. She’ll be layin’ there sleeping, and then, you can literally see her mouth just curl up. She’s the biggest smiler I’ve had. Biggest pouter and biggest smiler.”

Ultimately the two ended up making a bargain. Thomas told her he’d just train her once a day, in the morning, and then he’d leave her alone. “With her she can burn out real quick and she’s going to go right down into pout mode. So I just slow down my commands and do a little bit more… just walking… and then do a command here and there, and it helps.”

Despite the challenges, Thomas remains optimistic. “I got six more weeks to just keep fine tuning these. And it’ll be cool to see at the end of the nine weeks… I can just say it, and she’ll do it cuz she knows I want her to do it, she knows she gets that reward, and that praise, and that treat.”

Handler&Bella
Bella goes for a walk with one of her handlers

At the end of the nine-week rotation lies the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test, which is “recognized as the gold standard for dog behavior”. Dogs that pass the 10-step CGC test not only receive a certificate but are considered to “have good manners at home and in the community”. Although SCP dogs typically pass the CGC, there are always exceptions. Will Ripley pass? I’ll be back to share the results of SCP’s 33rd rotation next month. At that time, I’ll also share highlights from graduation day, which is a bittersweet time because inmates will say farewell to their canine companions while families will meet their new dogs who will go home with them forever.

Written by Allison and Andy Frederick
Photographs by Andy Frederick

Read the next article in this series: Behind the Scenes at Second Chance Pups

Read the previous article in this series: Orientation Day at Second Chance Pups

Orientation Day at Second Chance Pups

Boomer isn’t happy about having his nails clipped. The two-and-a-half-year-old, mostly black and white German Shepherd mix, shoves his full weight against the stranger whose arms are wrapped around him. Boomer strains anxiously, panting heavily. The man uses quiet words and gentle strokes to help Boomer settle. Then Boomer squirms again, and blood oozes from his a nail cut too close to the quick. A man standing next to Boomer pats his head. The woman with the nail clippers puts them down and applies styptic powder to the bleeding nail. Boomer’s eyes are wide with apprehension, but as the people around him shower him with praise he allows the rest of his nails to be clipped.

Today is orientation day, the first day of the 33rd rotation of Second Chance Pups. The program pairs inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary with unwanted dogs in need of training. On this day, about twenty people and eight dogs are crowded together in a back room of the penitentiary’s recycling building. The dogs are restless and scared, many having come from local shelters and rescues. Some of the fourteen inmates are newcomers to the program and aren’t sure what to expect. Then there’s Andy and me. Being first-time visitors, we’re both nervous and excited. But we settle into our work: Andy with his photos and I with my notes. Over the next few hours, we gradually begin to learn about this amazing program.

PrisonYardOrientation day begins shortly after noon on a snowy day in January. Three SCP volunteers arrive at the Nebraska State Penitentiary with multiple leashed dogs in tow. A four-year-old English lab refuses to take the stairs and is treated to an elevator ride with Kim Osterman, President of the SCP program; according to Melissa Ripley, Adoption Coordinator of the program, “It happens every rotation that some dog doesn’t like the stairs.” Volunteers hand off the dogs to two guards who disappear beyond secured doors with their furry charges. My husband and I remain behind with the three SCP volunteers to be stamped, scanned, and pat searched. We then proceed through several secured doors until we eventually meet up with the dogs who are already getting to know their new handlers. Passing through more secured doors, we find ourselves in the prison yard. The group walks together to the recycling center.

The kennel room has cinder block walls and concrete floors. On one wall are the Domestic-PUPS and Second Chance Pups logos. Handlers immediately put their dogs into their kennels. At the back of each kennel is a doggy door leading outside. On top of some of the kennels are cleaning supplies. On the floor are large containers holding dog food and bones. A poster depicting various dog breeds is taped to a wall. Clipped to the front of each occupied kennel are a feeding guide and a weight chart. Volunteers unload supplies onto a desk and table. Chairs, fans, and lockers take up most of the room’s remaining space.

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The first half hour is characterized by restrained commotion. Handlers interact with their dogs and ask questions of the SCP volunteers. Kim gives directions and guidance. Some of the handlers look through the new calendar from Patriot Assistance Dogs, a program to which sometimes SCP will donate dogs. Guards ask about supply needs. A few handlers sit with their dogs in their kennels. Other handlers write notes on whiteboards. One inmate goes outside to shovel.

Discussion turns to names, personalities, and the dogs’ needs. All of the dogs have been temperament tested with people, other dogs, and cats. The handlers are warned that two of the dogs don’t get along and should be kept apart. One dog needs a new name; he came with the name Zeus, but that name suggests aggression. More tips and cautions are issued: some dogs might not be used to leashes or might chew up collars, one dog was a breeder dog and much will be new to him and he may not be socialized. Then there’s charming little Bella, whom I wrote about in my first article in this series. Her small size is a cause for concern. There’s a small opening between her kennel and the next, and so there’s a worry she could get into the next kennel and might get bit. The suggestion was raised to put a small kennel within the big kennel.

They’re comin’ from such a negative thing in life, and I can relate to that. Who knows what that animal’s been through. Most likely, we get them out of the Humane Society, or a breeder mill, or whatever, they’ve been through something. Or deprived. So that for me to be able to say ‘here, not all people are bad.’ It’s just awesome.–Thomas, SCP Handler

Kim reminds everyone that the dogs have been through a lot, that they’ve been shuffled from place to place and now find themselves here. They’re overwhelmed, she says, and some aren’t used to people. She tells the handlers to educate guards and inmates about the need to approach the dogs slowly, as well as the importance of practicing crowd control. If a dog backs up and puts its ears back, handlers need to tell others to back off and give the dog time to adjust. Kim stresses that the handlers are their dogs’ protectors. A dog that can’t retreat might bite, and then it’ll be out of the program, and no one wants that. Kim tells the handlers to make sure their dogs don’t end up in that situation.

Potty training is the next topic. In this new environment the dogs might forget what training they’ve had. Handlers are responsible for taking their dogs out and teaching them to “go potty”. Teaching dogs the proper place to use the bathroom will need to be handled just like it would be at a person’s home. Dogs should be taken outside consistently for potty training to be successful. The biggest goal is to get the dogs on a schedule. If handlers are in their cells, they can get permission to take their dog out. Kenneling the dogs at night, Kim advised, would also help with potty training.

BoomerNailsFinally, Kim tells the handlers not to worry yet about training their dogs in obedience. The dogs will need a few days to adjust, she says. They might not initially eat. They might have messy bowel movements. Handlers should be patient, do lots of petting, and focus on getting to know their dogs. Kim said that when she returns in two days for the first training session, handlers should be ready to give her personal information about their dogs, including a detailed health record.

Julie, a longtime volunteer with SCP, takes the floor to talk about the need for handlers to groom their dogs. Julie recommends that handlers shampoo dogs only once a month to ensure their hair doesn’t get dried out. Handlers should check the ears and nails of their assigned dog for the first couple days. Julie then shows how to clip a dog’s nails by demonstrating on Boomer, who, as one of the most energetic dogs, is a poster child for what SCP is about.

Boomer has a checkered history. He started out as an outside farm dog. A scrapper, he had to fight for everything including food, and so was strongly independent. Then he killed the family cat and was sent to the local shelter. Although he did get adopted out, he got surrendered again due to being so high in energy. Now, like the other seven dogs, he’s here getting a second chance.

I love these dogs dearly and I miss them when they leave. But the fact that I have to let them go… I know they’re going to a better place and the fact that I got to spend two months with that animal and basically I feel the animal did more for me than I did for it. We both work with each other. That was the best experience in two months that I could have ever asked for.–Thomas, SCP Handler

Kim takes the floor again and stresses the importance of the training sessions. Without behavior modification, Kim notes, dogs are more likely to be relinquished to shelters. There are a number of articles in the handlers’ information packets about how to teach the dogs obedience and manners. Kim instructs the handlers to review these handouts and know the training commands; when she talks about basic obedience commands in the upcoming training sessions, they should already have a familiarity with them.

Bringing up the issue of health again, Kim explains that handlers should do a physical exam, or a hands-on check, of their dogs to determine if there are issues. If a dog gets sick, its handlers should fill out a medical form and give it to a guard to take to the vet. The form may be the only communication for the vet and so it needs to provide all necessary information. In addition, Kim warns, handlers should only give medication that has been approved or prescribed.

Next, Kim lectures about her biggest pet peeve: No people food! Many of the dogs will be going to homes with kids, and SCP doesn’t want the dogs snatching food away from the kids. Also, people food can mess with the dogs’ stomachs and make them sick. If anyone tries to give their dogs people food, the handlers should just say no and walk away.

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Activity is another topic Kim addresses. She notes that the dogs should be exercised for thirty minutes every day. Except for night time, dogs should be kept no more than four hours at a time in the big kennels and two hours in the small kennels. If a dog has a secondary handler, there’s really no reason for the dog to be in a kennel at all. That’s the purpose of the secondary handlers.

Kim cautions the handlers to always keep their dogs on a leash. The play yards and the recycling center are off-leash areas; the dogs must be leashed everywhere else. Before opening their dog’s kennel, the handler should already have a leash in hand. Handlers are told that their assigned dog can’t be handed off to anyone not currently in the program for any amount of time. Their dog is their responsibility, period.

When it comes to toys, Kim tells the handlers that it’s okay to leave out bones and Kongs. All other toys should be picked up; dogs will eat them and then they’ll need a trip to the emergency vet. Not even leashes should be left hanging on the kennels, as they can quickly become chew toys and hazards. Ripped blankets are to be discarded.

The bottom line is that it’s each handler’s responsibility is to feed, exercise, train, and otherwise care for their assigned dog. Participation in Second Chance Pups is a full-time responsibility. She reminds the handlers that others will be watching them. Everyone will be looking to them to see if the program works.

It’s hard, at first. It’s difficult. I gotta let you go. You make such a connection with these dogs. They tell you these aren’t your pets, you’re not supposed to fall in love. Kim would say ‘these aren’t your pets.’ I’d say ‘it is for nine weeks.’–Geno, SCP Handler

Orientation is intensive, but there’s a light-hearted atmosphere, especially among the experienced handlers. When Kim reminds everyone that the dogs aren’t their pets, one handler jokes, “They aren’t?” Another quips, “They are for nine weeks!” While the latter might be true, Kim advises them to remember this is a volunteer job. The handlers will get attached but, at the end of the rotation, the dogs will go home to others. That’s why it’s important, Kim stresses, for every handler to follow the SCP guidelines, which have been developed based on SCP experience and will make training smoother and transitions easier.

We’ve all been in the kennel room for almost two hours. Boomer returns from a potty break with his handler. After being put into his kennel, he suddenly leaps straight up, almost to the top. Maybe he was looking for a way out? His handler teases, “Boomer! What was that?”, then enters the kennel to try to settle the high-energy dog.

It’s been a long afternoon. The handlers have been given a wealth of information to process, and everyone is starting to get restless. One of the long-time handlers comes inside with his dog and asks, “Did I miss the speech about jobs?”

“Yes.”

“Yay!”

It can be tricky in here, to take a grown man that’s got issues, and tell him that hey, I wanna help you, but please don’t take this the wrong way, because we can be very prideful men sometimes.–Thomas, SCP Handler

Kim wraps up the orientation by asking, “Any questions?” This brings a serious response: “Probably a hundred. But not right now.” Some of the experienced handlers begin to offer their own advice, stressing that their intention is to help the new handlers. The old-timers say they know the program and what’s expected.

BoomerRollTalk becomes more light-hearted. Chatter turns to past graduates of the program, with handlers asking for updates They’re eager for information and are pleased to hear they are living happy lives with good families.

Glad for orientation to be over, we all walk around the outside of the building to re-enter the much larger main room of the recycling center. There the handlers finally get to relax with their dogs. Some work on tricks, some play, and others just sit with their dogs. In only two days the intense training will begin. Check back next week for my next article about the Second Chance Pups training sessions.

Written by Allison and Andy Frederick
Photographs by Andy Frederick

Read the next article in this series: Training with Second Chance Pups

Read the previous article in this series: A Second Chance for Bella

A Second Chance for Bella, Part One of a Series on Second Chance Pups

Bella_HandlerThe five-year-old stocky French Bulldog places one foot onto a raised platform made from PVC and stretched canvas, then follows it with a second. Bella follows through on the command to “Place” by climbing all the way onto the platform. This will be the last skill practiced during this February morning’s one-hour training session. Bella glances up at her handler for reassurance that she has done well. Geno leans into her and gives her a hug, and she waggles her tongue happily as she soaks in the praise. With a bond like this, it’ll be tough to say goodbye, but that’s exactly what will happen in six weeks.

The smallest and arguably the cutest in her group, Bella is one of eight dogs in the thirty-third rotation of Second Chance Pups. The program pairs inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary with unwanted dogs in need of training. Selected inmates work together with a professional trainer, prison staff, and volunteers for a nine-week-rotation to provide dogs with basic obedience training, socialization, behavior modification, grooming and daily one-on-one attention. Since starting in the fall of 2004, over 220 inmates have participated, and about 350 dogs have found homes.

It’s not often that you find something that you truly love, for me, as a 43-year-old man. And to have this now that’s something I can focus my energy to, is definitely a positive outlook for my future and staying out of trouble and off the streets and away from my addictions.–Thomas, SCP handler

At the core of the Lincoln program is the philosophy of getting a redo on life. Behavior problems are one of the leading reasons people relinquish their pets to shelters, and the skills the dogs develop through the SCP help them become adoptable. As for the handlers, they receive an opportunity to give back to society and contribute to a solution for the growing problem of unwanted pets.

Second Chance Pups also offers further benefits to the inmates, who are serving sentences for felonies such as drug offenses, burglary, and motor vehicle homicide. It provides an incentive for good behavior, as interested inmates must avoid disciplinary write-ups six months prior to joining. Once in the program, the handlers often start to learn better ways to handle their emotions and to make better choices. Consider too that the handlers are volunteers themselves, and that they often must turn down paying jobs to participate.

Yeah, Bella gets spoiled. Not just by me, but by everybody. Everybody’s like “awww!”–Geno, SCP handler

Bella_DogsBella’s life has gotten off to a rough start. She came to SCP having been relinquished to an animal shelter because her owner didn’t have enough time for her. Perhaps for this reason she suffers from intense separation anxiety: Geno notes, “she’ll go into the kennel, but then she’s just like, ‘I don’t wanna be here.’ That’s when the circles start.” She’s also prone to bathroom accidents: whenever Geno has something he needs to do and has to put Bella in her kennel, he tries to get back to her quickly before she makes a mess. Like many of the dogs in the SCP program, Bella also possesses a certain degree of stubbornness. Said Geno after the third training session, “When she doesn’t want to do anything, she won’t even take a treat. Put it in front of her and she’s just like ‘I don’t want it, I don’t want it.’ It’s kind of like trying to feed a kid their vegetables.” Bella also has other unique quirks. For example, it quickly became apparent to Geno that she likes to sleep. A LOT. He joked that Bella is either napping or waking up from a nap. And when she’s sleeping, “she snores, all the time. And it’s adorable.” She has other good qualities. For example, she craves attention. A CONSTANT SUPPLY. Geno summed her need up by saying, “She will look at you and want to be loved.” And yet, while many of the dogs had been adopted by the third week of the rotation, no one had come forward to claim the prima-donna Bella.

At various times, from the last week of January to the first week of April, we were given front row seats for SCP’s thirty-third rotation. We attended orientation, one training session, the Canine Good Citizen testing (the program’s “final exam”), graduation, and the introduction of the dogs to their new families. We met the dogs and their handlers, and interviewed some of the volunteers, a guard, and two inmates. Our experiences with SCP will be the subject of several upcoming articles here at LAA Pet Talk.

Written by Allison and Andy Frederick
Photographs by Andy Frederick

Read the next article in this series: Orientation Day at Second Chance Pups