Monday, June 30, 2014

The worst thing

April 11, 2014

No matter how early we wake up to park the puppies, feed the puppies, feed ourselves, haul crates and puppies and luggage back into the van, we always fall behind schedule. Today we end up 15 minutes late.

Upon arrival at the Chippewa Correctional Facility, we apologize to the staff members who meet us at the visitor entrance. They tell us they joke about it now. They never expect us when we say we're going to be there.

We must be infected with "yooper-time."

Our session starts with a bit of social time. The lunchroom tables are pushed to the perimeter of the room where the guys sit with puppies "under" their seats.

Four men sit on stools attached to a table on the left side of the picture. On man sits just out of view on the right side. The first man is an african american wearing the prison blue uniform. He has this hands clasped on his lap and below him a black lab is lying on the tile floor. The next man is leaning back with his arms folded, he is wearing blue pants and a white t-shirt. The next man is wearing a white t-shirt and light maroon pants. He is leaning over looking down at a golden retriever that is lying under him on the floor. He is petting the puppy with his left hand and his right elbow is on the table. The fourth man is just visible behind the third man, he is wearing a white t-shirt and looking away to the right. The man out of view is wearing the prison blue uniform and hs holding the leash of a black lab that is lying on the floor between his legs.
Teammates Ro and Aaron sit with FLD Sammy; Morrison tends to FLD Bravo with Cory at his back.

Tammy and I circle the room, an informal "meet and greet" with each team.

After a quick rundown of the skills we want to work on, Tammy takes John aside to sign the puppy-raising contract and review the paperwork for the newest arrival, FLD Ekco. I visit each team to ask the same two questions Tammy asked the inmates at Baraga.

1. Tell me something good about your puppy.
Many of the puppies are smart, intelligent, and attentive. Others are confident, loveable, and have a great recall. FLD Bravo's team says that the pup's "clingy-ness" is both good and bad. "We call him the old man."
 2. What are you struggling with and need to work harder on?
Some puppies are overly friendly, or "ambitious socially" as Abe describes FLD Zella. A few rush stairs. Cori says that FLD Baker has a great stay, but is jumpy with loud noises. "She spooked at the cleaning cart," he reports. Baker got away from him and bolted. She ran through Unit 8, up the stairs and almost to his room before someone caught her. "She is fast!" he says. The worst thing, according to Scott, is the thought of giving FLD Drummond away.

Saying good-bye is on everyone's mind today. When Tammy and I leave this afternoon, we will be taking FLDs Nell, Zella and Tara back to Leader Dogs for the Blind to begin their formal training.

But first, we have work to do...

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