Sunday, November 2, 2014

Where are we?

June 20, 2014

Most times, I forget where we are. I forget that we are amongst a bunch of convicted criminals, they seem much more like sons and grandsons to me. We share puppy stories and figure out problems together. The men are open and not afraid to ask questions about the health and behavior of their Future Leader Dog puppies.

As Tammy goes over FLD Andie's puppy raising contract with Abe, I distribute Frontline to the teams. Once a month our puppies need a flea and tick preventative applied. They also take HeartGuard, a monthly heartworm pill, but these are kept on site for the raisers to give to the pups on the first of the month. Tammy brings the Frontline up from Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Each team is given the choice to apply the Frontline fluid down the back of their puppy themselves, or have me do it. Most of them want to do it, but when I get to FLD Sammy's team, Ro says, "Sammy wants you to do it." I don't mind. The hardest thing about it is opening the packaging.

The shape of the plastic applicator reminds me of a long-necked modern electric guitar. It is a small triangle with a long stem, which is easy enough to snap open, but first you have to get it out of the hard-to-open foil and plastic package. If you are not careful you can break the applicator with the packaging. Squirting medicine all over your hands instead of putting it on your puppy is an expensive waste.

"I need a knife," I say to Sammy's team without thinking, struggling to open the Frontline. Tim says, "Want me to get mine?" I'm about to say, "Sure, that would be great," when the next guy puts his foot on a chair and acts like he is pulling a knife out of his sock.

All the men laugh when I realize that of course they have no knives! I hesitate even writing this, because after all, it is a prison. Joking about a knife in prison feels a little bit like making a bomb joke in an airport.

ARUS Rob comes over. No, he doesn't frisk us for knives. He uses one of his keys to open the Frontline.


And just for a relief from my words, here are a couple of puppies!

A yellow lab is lying down between the legs of a sitting man dressed in green prison pants and white tennis shoes. Only the man's legs are in the frame and his hands. His right hand is holding the puppy's leash. The puppy is lying closer to the man's right leg and looking up and to the right. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana, with his name, "Ekco" embroidered in white thread.
FLD Ekco waits his turn to get "Frontlined."

A small brown lab is lying down half on a blue grey mat and the tile floor, his chin on the floor between his front paws. A man's foot is next to the puppy on the left, wearing a white tennis shoe. There is an elk antler on the tiel floor next to the puppy's head. The puppy is looking up toward the camera.
FLD Bandit doesn't look pleased with the prospect.

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