January 30, 2014
ARUS Rob directs Tammy to park the Leader Dogs for the Blind van close to the Pike Unit gate so the inmate raisers can carry in the 50-pound dog food bags. We hand FLDs Harper, Tara and Copo's leashes off to the men, who are more than happy to take the pups. Harper leaps with joy to see his buddies.
Tammy wants to hand FLDs Ashley and Chewy over the shoulders of their new raisers while everyone else sees the pups first, so she carries them into the administration building with us to check in.
Check in is always a process. We sign our names and entry time into the logbook. We give our driver's licenses to Rob, who disappears and returns with our prison IDs. We declare anything that we are bringing in, like my camera and flash, or Tammy's training bag of distractions. The CO (corrections officer) on duty gives Tammy a key to one of the lockers lining the opposite wall so she can leave the van keys, and anything else we forgot to take out of our pockets that can't go inside the fence. The CO swipes the back of our right hands with some kind of invisible marker.
This time we are asked to walk through a metal detector that is off to the side. A female CO is apologetic as she pats us down and checks the inside of our mouths. Frankly, we are surprised that this doesn't happen every time.
The Pike Unit lunchroom is buzzing with anticipation when we finally get inside. Chewy and Ashley's raisers stand in the middle of the room with their backs to the door. The place is packed with puppies and inmates, prison employees, and a few outsiders. The Bardsleys are here, Paula is snuggling up FLD Copo. Kim, a puppy raiser from the Canadian Soo, is here; an inmate raiser is handling her puppy, FLD Kayla. Judy, a local U.P. resident, is here to learn and observe so she can take a puppy out on furlough.
Between smiles and greetings, I hustle through the crowd so I can position myself in front of the two new raisers.
Sometimes, I know a photo opportunity when I see one...
|Tammy hands FLD Ashley to his new raiser amidst a round of "awwwwws!" from the crowd.|
|FLD Chewy meets his new raiser as Tammy passes him over the inmate's shoulder.|
|Gentlemen, meet your puppies!|
|FLD Ashely's lead raiser introduces her to her assistant raiser.|
|FLD Chewy's assistant raiser introduces the pup to FLD Sammy's raiser. Everyone wants to meet the new puppies.|
|FLD Ashley gets the first of many snuggles.|
|FLD Chewy in the arms of his inmate raiser.|
|FLD Copo snoozes in the arms of an inmate.|