Sunday, November 16, 2014

In their words...Doug

July 17, 2014

Here is Doug's speech...

A bald man with a beard is talking into a microphone at a podium. There are posters on the wall behind him and one on the podium. The man is wearig a white t-shirt.
Doug reads his speech.

My name is Pinson, I am the handler for Chewy, my new assistant is Peterson, and I want to take this time to thank him for doing a great job and for stepping up to be my assistant when my other assistant Gregerzeski stepped up to help Morrison with his brand new puppy. We have an awesome group of guys here. Chewy is a 7.5 month-old, 87 pound sable color German Shepherd. I received him on January 31st of this year. He was only 6.5 weeks old, 14 pounds. He was a small ball of brown fur with a black ring around the middle of his tail. He looked like a little wolf puppy. I had the cell and his kennel all set up, puppy toys, food and water bowls. And I had 6 new bags of coffee. I was ready for the night shift, making sure Chewy would be able to go outside the instant he woke up, I wanted to (in the words of Scott Libby) “set him up for success.” I knew that agreeing to raise and train a Leader Dog puppy for 12-14 months would be a lot of hard work and dedication. I was sure I’d have to sacrifice the majority of my time and energy to see to it that Chewy had the best life possible, best training possible and all the love and discipline the life of a Future Leader Dog would need.

Little did I understand the wonderful journey I was about to partake. I make a living in here off of my art, which is very time consuming, plus I always keep an institutional job, work out 4 days a week, write letters to my loved ones, read educational literature, participate in any and all programming classes that become available, make some phone calls from time to time, throw in using the restroom and showers, the 3 chows a day and the 3-4, 45 minute to an hour count times that we have to return and stay in our cells, oh, and don’t forget we have to wait in long lines for mostly all of this. Our days are very structured and busy. I know it sounds crazy to say, but there’s not enough time in a day to complete everything I’m involved in. Now add a puppy into the mix, who is by your side 24/7, and depends on you to eat, drink, play, use the restroom and relies totally on you to be fully potty trained and capable to perform all the commands Leader Dog entrusts us to instill into our puppies. I honestly felt a bit overwhelmed as I had to adjust from 12 years of living in prison the way I felt comfortable for this precious innocent little creature who has no voice for himself. He only has me.

I have 4 children and at the time of my arrest almost 13 years ago, I had full custody of my then 5-year old daughter. I depended on my sister-in-law and babysitter a lot, since I had to work and still have my selfish “social life”. But raising Chewy I sadly but honestly felt for the first time in my life just how frustrated and helpless my children’s mothers felt when I’d get off from work and just go out to the bar or a friend’s house and leave them at home with no car, the kids and my own pet dogs. They use to try to tell me how awful it felt to be alone and not be able to come and go as they please. Having a baby on the hip and dogs to feed and clean up after. Well, when I couldn’t work out, draw, use the phone or get help with Chewy when my assistant was busy working, or doing whatever he needed to do, I actually had to call home and tell my children’s mothers that I was sorry and now at 43 years old, I finally understand how they felt and always tried to make me understand. I felt horrible!!!

So I dove headfirst into the life of Chewy. My entire day and night still revolves around my beautiful pup. I am so very proud of him and how intelligent he is. I have become self-less instead of selfish! I love the monthly puppy meetings and training sessions that Deb, Tammy and Patti implement. I have so much respect for Mr. and Mrs. Bardsley, the zoo vet Doc Bennett and his wife and all his priceless time, medicine and knowledge. Our awesome dedicated and professional ARUS Batho. I thank all of our outside puppy raisers, supporters, sponsors and the Warden and all of his staff for allowing us to have this great opportunity to learn this awesome trade of training and raising Leader Dogs for the Blind and visually impaired. To be able to use our time to give back to society and give others who live in their own prison a little freedom by ensuring they have a healthy well trained guide dog. The problem solving, teamwork, trust and respect earned from staff and civilians, feels real good. In 3 months I’ll have been inside 13 years straight.

This is the very best program and opportunity that I’ve seen or had for rehabilitation. I was allowed to take on a huge responsibility and trusted with a living being. I dedicated my life for 12-14 months to not only training and raising Chewy, but to educate myself by reading numerous books on dog training, dog psychology, emotional and behavioral characteristics of canines, watching clicker training videos, getting hands on group training, learning team work and dealing with inmates who dislike animals and dogs in general. I learned the power of positivity and I feel I’m much better man because of it. As is everyone involved in this program from the top to the bottom. And I give everyone involved my most sincere gratitude…Thank You!

A young german shepherd is lying on grass next wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. He is facing the camera and is next to someone standing wearing blue jeans, only the lower legs are visible.
FLD Chewy, the puppy Dough raised.


  1. All the speeches are so nice to "hear" again! What a life changing program!! Thank you, Patti, for posting the speeches!

  2. Missing Puppy Day is probably one of the greatest regrets of my life. Thank you Patti for posting these speeches and thanks to the guys for giving you permission. What a moving experience.