A New Path: Key Role of Inmates in Training Psychiatric Service Dogs

Healing Companions, a 501 (c)(3) organization, serves mentally ill residents of Northeast Ohio and changes the lives of shelter dogs – adopted and trained to become Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs), persons experiencing a mental disorder – providing them with a PSD, and inmates – who train the dogs their basic skills to be more adoptable and when qualified placed as psychiatric service dogs in training while the inmates gain job skills and “soft skills” to help them obtain employment and contribute to the community upon release.
In this clip, you’ll hear from an inmate who trains the shelter dogs their basic skills — helping them to become more adoptable by addressing behavior issues and qualifying them to become trained as PSDs. Since becoming part of the Healing Companions training program, he has discovered a passion for training dogs. He now wants to become a dog trainer and behavior consultant. We are helping him and other inmates interested in this path by inviting presenters to educate them about their business options once they re-enter the workforce.

Won’t you consider supporting Healing Companions to help us continue the work we do?

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Psychiatric Service Dogs: Saving Dogs and Changing Lives

Healing Companions is a 501(c)(3) organization, serving mentally ill residents of Northeast Ohio. Through a dedicated approach to community mental health, a three-fold benefit emerges: a shelter dog is saved and trained as a psychiatric service dog (PSD) to provide assistance to a person experiencing a mental disorder.

This person benefits from a higher level of functioning and participation in society, with help from their dog. Shelter dogs are trained basic skills by inmates, who in turn gain job skills and “soft skills” to help them obtain jobs and contribute to the community upon release. These services go a long way to saving the lives of dogs and humans alike, as well as keeping them a part of the world and the community.

Won’t you consider supporting Healing Companions to help us continue the work we do?

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PSD Fundraiser: Michele

Michele is a retired music teacher suffering from bipolar depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder. She was misdiagnosed for several years before receiving the correct diagnosis. A year ago, as her doctor tried to find the right combination of medication that would best help her, she found herself on what she calls a “medication carousel”.

Even today, she does not believe she has the right combination of medication that is bHealingCompanions_CircleGraphFinal-01est suited for her needs and the side effects have been intolerable.

Her typical day consists of working part-time, practicing her instruments and other daily activities, but her condition severely interferes with her ability to function. She often has problems getting out of bed, taking medication on schedule and remembering to eat. She also has trouble focusing, keeping to a daily routine and taking care of her basic needs. This has led to isolation, severe anxiety and panic attacks. Her fears can be immobilizing so she keeps people at a distance.

Therapy has been helpful, but it still has not provided her with the independence and stability that she needs on a daily basis.

After much research, Michele discovered Healing Companions and deeply believes that a psychiatric service dog will help bring her the stability and freedom that she needs. A PSD can be trained the tasks that will alleviate her symptoms so she can lead the life she wants and give back to her community.

Please help us help Michele by making a donation today.

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Training dogs with inmates at GRC

Jane Miller recently spent a day at The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Grafton Correctional Institution, Grafton Reintegration Center working with inmates on training techniques and skills Healing Companions, Inc. service dogs need to perform. These range from teaching them to train the dogs basic skills (sit, heel, come, watch me, go to mat, down, etc.) as well as to tuck their tail (so their tails are not stepped on when they are in restaurants, theaters, etc)., not shake in public places and or eat food left on the floor They also learn to train specific tasks clients need like pawing, nudging, leaning, turning on lights, room checks, retrieves and many other tasks. Jane teaches the inmates relaxation/stress reduction techniques for themselves and the dogs incorporating canine massotherapy, TTouch, Reiki, meditation, breathing, and visualization.

DOG TRAINING AT GRAFTON REINTEGRATION CENTER

Inmates at The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Grafton Correctional Institution, Grafton Reintegration Center learn techniques for training psychiatric service dogs with Jane Miller of Healing Companions, Inc.

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