(Testimonial three days after adoption) “Gidget and I went on a walk for the third day in a row! For those of you who don’t know what a big deal that is, previous to getting her, I never would’ve chosen to leave the house alone–we’ve also had three different unknown men unexpectedly come to the house to work on things and I didn’t have any panic attacks!
Gidget has already made a huge impact on my quality of life, and she’s still in training.
Amanda and Ninna
“I was scared all the time. … What helped me to come out was that in there I decided to adopt a dog. . . She gave me a reason to live, and I think the first being in my life [I] trusted. . .in some ways she’s like my shield from the world and in others she helps me to be in the world. My relationship with Ninna is great.
Ninna helps me to be grounded. Sometimes when I’m crying, she’ll sit there and lick my face. Something so simple, it reminds you that you’re not the only person in the world in that moment. Your pain is not the only thing that exists. I found that [my PSD] really helps me and I kind of snap out of that. In some ways she’s like my shield from the world. In others, she helps me to be in the world. She’s helped me want to live.”
“My name is Tracy My service dog’s name is Finola. Finola was rescued from Hurricane Katrina. She helps me live a more productive life. She helps me go to the grocery store, bank, And other places away from our home. I have post traumatic stress disorder. I have many symptoms that go along with PTSD. Finola was trained to help me with my panic attacks. Without Finola I would be house bound. Finola is almost 9 yrs. old & ready to retire so I hope to start training my next PSDIT who will receive the basic training by inmates at the Grafton prison.
I am able to work two jobs because of my service dog Finola. I still can’t afford all the training my next dog will need to become my service dog. Finola recently turned nine. I cry as I write this because I know Finola won’t be able to work much longer. I can’t even imagine how I would survive without the help of a service dog. We need funding desperately for training, food,& vet care. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Please help me and others live a more independent & productive life. Donate to Healing Companions, Inc., to help train rescue dogs to become PSD’S. My service dog Finola has definitely transformed my life.”
“I think he’s very empowering and he’s a great dog. He gives me a lot of courage and strength. He helps me through a lot of different situations. When I’m stressed, he helps me. He’s just a great dog. I have a lot of anxieties over school and going to school because I don’t really have a lot of friends in school and he’ll definitely be able to help me with those social anxieties. He’s great…I have a lot of nightmares and he helps me with those nightmares by waking me up, because I have some really bad nightmares. He really helped me with that.”
Katie and Rosie
“Rosie, … the first time I met her, she leaned into me and I was like, ‘oh, this is my dog.’ I knew she was the dog I was supposed to have. Working with my therapist and working with her. . .I realized that the same thing was happening to me. I could actually understand myself better through Rosie.”
Tracy’s Testimonial about the Inmate Program
Tracy was able to share her story with the Grafton Prison inmates. “I felt so at home when sharing my story. I felt like I have been imprisoned all my life. . .I sometimes still do feel imprisoned but my trained service dog helps me get out of my prison and into the world.”
New Understanding by Inmates in the Shelter Dog Training Program at Grafton Correctional Facility
Amanda (a client in the Healing Companions program) adopted Lola, a Psychiatric Service Dog In-Training who received her basic/foundational skills by the inmates. She came to the prison to share her story with those involved in the training program. After Amanda’s story, the inmates wrote:
“To see how our work with the dogs can help others makes it worth every moment. It’s hard to sometimes see the dogs leave, but to know the effect they have on others’ lives is amazing!” ~Inmate at GCF
“Seeing how one of our dogs has impacted [another’s] life has inspired me. Your presence has made a big difference in my life and a reason for training dogs.” ~Inmate at GCF
“I finally found something I want to do, something I can do as a career.” ~Inmate at GCF
“For me, when you showed us about the pressure points and the breathing rates for the dogs to get them to calm down. For me, . . .just rubbing the dogs, petting the dogs, really calms me down. Your training helps me personally, which I really appreciate.” ~Inmate at GCF
Other Testimonials from Inmates in the Shelter Dog Training Program
“Having started my experience in dog training using aversive and more forceful methods, I found it intriguing when Jane Miller showed me a gentler method. Her methods of positive reinforcement taught that you could train a dog and not damage the bond between trainer and dog. I have learned that the dog will follow cues willingly and not out of fear. Her tutelage and patience has given me a great respect for these wonderful animals.
What I learned from her, has opened doors for me that would never have been opened before.
Two weeks after my release from prison Jane assisted in getting me a full-time job at the Mutt Hutt. It’s recognized as the premier facility by Cleveland magazine. This would never have happened without the training she provided me.
While still an employee at the Mutt Hutt, myself and another individual she taught have launched our own business called Everyday Dogs. We strive to use the methods she taught and provide a positive experience for our four legged friends. Thank you Jane.” – A.K.
“I am in the dog program. . . because I love our domesticated dogs and I think that positive and humane training and treatment of dogs can drastically reduce the overpopulation and mistreatment of dogs. I want to learn and grow in the discipline of positive training and behavior modification.” – C.H.
“I have learned a lot about dog behavior and most of all I’ve learned patience. I know now that dogs that are aggressive were not born that way. They went through troubles. I enjoy learning about the different ways to keep the dog’s minds going. Like the puzzles and different games we play with the dogs. I am looking forward to learning CPR and dog’s health issues and how to help them.” –J.C.
“In the future, I would like to explore the possibility of opening up my own doggy daycare/kennel/training center. Also I’d like to continue to volunteer at my local animal shelter. If there’s any possibility I can be a voice for neglected or abused animals and help them find decent homes. That is my goal ultimately. Also, to educate people on dog behaviors and why they do some of the things they do.”–W.P.