Story by Lucia Martínez ~ Martin knows by heart what it’s like to suffer from a mental illness himself. He’s experienced the challenging symptoms, and has dealt with the great stigma of living with an illness such as bipolar disorder, as well as the one that comes with being convicted of a crime. In prison, a person has to learn on his own how to cope with these exhausting issues, especially when one has had a lot of time on one’s hands, which can lead to increasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
By being part of the dog training process, Martin has not only proven to be proficient in managing and working with the shelter dogs, but has also perceived the calming and beneficial effects of sharing with the dogs, and has become more capable in controlling those anxiety/panic attacks that are common in people with bipolar disorder. While at the same time, helping someone in need.
Listen to Martin’s touching words on his healing experience training shelter dogs for the future and overcoming the symptoms of his own mental illness while imprisoned:
We are happy to claim this a win-win-win situation, for the shelter dog, the person the dog is being trained to assist and clearly the individuals who participate in the program who value it highly and derive a ton of personal benefit. And that’s why we love what we do!
Story by Lucia Martínez ~ Of all the times one gets to hear about personal experiences that come with being a felon, few of them have such a hopeful message. Generally we only see the negative sides, and the difficulties that come when dealing with coming back to an incredulous society and finding a new place in a changed world. But CAN someone change their life? Yes. If they want to and with hard, hard work. And that’s exactly what Chris wants now that he has found his vocation through the inmate training program offered by Healing Companions, Inc. oriented on teaching these individuals key competences for training dogs learning the basic skills needed to continue their specialized preparation.
Listen to Chris’ remarks on how he found passion while working with educating our dogs has given him a clearer and more expectant view of the future, in which he is no longer just a released felon, but a man of determination and strong career goals after an extensive time behind bars:
The Healing Companions program believes that involving recovering offenders and educating them can be a successful method of preparing an inmate to step back into his or her community with a replenished sense of self image, as well as pride through the accomplishment of getting through the training program and aspiring for a career in the field.
Our team is glad for Chris’ continued successes and hope things continue to go in a positive direction.
Seems pretty clear for us dog-lovers and proud owners. Dogs love us humans in much the same ways that we do, through affection, attachment bonds and empathy. And unless you took an untamed coyote home, you’ve probably experienced all the colors of sharing a life with a canine confidante along with unquestionable life changing effects. In some cases, even lifesaving.
This next story depicts that last lifesaving part and will give you a closer look to the work we proudly do at Healing Companions Inc. where all our canines are shelter dogs and highly trained to mitigate the effects of each individuals specific symptoms.
Amanda is a Northeast Ohio resident, recovering from PTSD under the watch of always vigilant Lola, one of the many shelter dogs in training as psychiatric service dogs at Healing Companions. Her recuperation story next to a four legged companion began during her college years when she adopted her first dog Nina while suffering from a crippling history of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. The companionship and devoted love along with Nina’s insistence for multiple daily walks provided exercise, interactions with other people and gave Amanda the motivation she needed to cope with her traumas and further pursue her recovery.
Now, Amanda continues making progress thanks to Lola’s customized training. Lola is not only educated to assist Amanda in navigating through her days by helping her maintain all of her activities of her daily routine, but also her set of skills are refined so she can wake Amanda up and distract her in case of a nightmare. Lola is also able to aid Amanda when she is entering a panic attack by nudging, pawing and leaning against her or leading her outside to leave the space she was triggered in.
Don’t miss the rest of her testimony here: Life-saving bond: Woman’s dog gives her courage to heal.
Happy spoiler alert: It’s safe to say she can live a life with less fear in the daily obstacles she faces and struggles with and knowing she has her psychiatric service dog in training with her every step of the way.
Another successful meet, greet and adoption for Brody, a shelter dog that received his basic training from one of the inmates we trained. This training takes place thanks to all of your generous support and donations. Meet Brody as he meets Tracy and her retired psychiatric service dog, Finola. Brody and Finola got along beautifully and had a wonderful play time together and Brody captured Tracy’s heart. I am thrilled to Continue Reading →
First, we would like to thank Gina Lallo, Founder of Forget Me Not Animal Rescue, for donating Colton to our program, Joette Mehalio, Foster mom and training home for Colton and Jennifer Mauger, CPDT-KSA, KPA-CPT, Owner/Trainer L’Chaim Canine, for helping train Joette to prepare Colton for Brian. We are deeply touched, grateful, and appreciative of everything they have done for Brian, Colton and Healing Companions, Inc. A truly magical gift that will change so many lives. Thanks so much for everything.
Colton and Brian’s meeting went really well and Colton has been placed with Brian. Brian was so thrilled and Continue Reading →