Sunday, 23 June 2013



I watched a documentary on TV  earlier this week which illustrated the value of using rescue dogs in a  training programme by inmates of a low security prison in Australia.  Watching it actually brought tears to my eyes.  These inmates are not repeat-offenders and being in a low security lock-up, have have been given this wonderful challenge.  

These adorable dogs bring with them the gift of companionship, purpose and unconditional love.. very lacking in a prison environment.  The relationships that develop between the inmates and their dogs,  allow so many of them to 'feel' again, also resulting in them being able to re-connect with family and loved-ones in a deeper way after their release.  

Some programmes work with local animal shelters, selecting homeless dogs which might be good candidates for becoming service dogs for people with disabilities.  They also provide educational grooming facilities for inmates, enabling them to find a job in the pet industry after release.  The double benefit of these programs is inestimable.

I did a bit of reading on the subject, and was  amazed to discover just how extensive the use of dogs in prisons has become, world-wide. I watched a video which was aired on the Oprah Show, of fairly hard-core prisoners training puppies to aid wounded soldiers.  Have a look here and you will need a tissue or two!

As a family,  we have always had dogs.  Our first dog was "Chomper".. a Beagle who was with us for years.  He died on the day we sealed the container for our move to the UK.  Chomper was going to live with Mr R-I's brother.  On that day, he accompanied us to the park with the children for our last visit, when he was knocked down and killed by a service vehicle driving through the park...It was the saddest day.  

When we moved to Australia 8 years ago  we were all kind of discombobulated!  After some nagging by our youngest daughter,  we brought Lola home with us.  She was a cross Shih Tzu/Maltese.  That little dog brought untold joy to us all and helped us settle and feel like we were 'home'  again.  We were desperately sad when she was run-over accidentally by a lady on her cell-phone 4 years ago. 


We have since acquired "The Girls" - two Shih Tzus.  These girls are our constant companions and bring such laughter and joy into our lives.   

This madam is Penny Lane

Bunny on the left and Penny

Studies have shown that in the elderly,  those that own pets, are less likely to visit the doctor and are therefore less likely to be on medication.  This can be attributed to the benefit of exercise during  daily walks as well as the companionship and happiness that owning a dog can provide.  Taking care of a dog gives old people a goal and an every day purpose in life.

The category of 'working dogs'  is extensive.  They have proved to be invaluable in working with the disabled, with the blind, and are even being used to help children with reading problems.  They also provide 'therapy' for the old and mentally handicapped.

Dogs herd and hunt,  guard and search.  The friendly Beagle in the Customs  is an expert at sniffing unwelcome 'imports' from arriving passengers.  They are also trained to detect bombs during warfare, and work extensively in the military.  Dogs are invaluable to the police.  They assist in general law enforcement often helping to detain suspects and are trained to detect drugs and explosives etc.

But mostly,  dogs are here for us all to love.  To give us companionship, amusement and above all,  unconditional love.  What would this world be without them... 


Couldn't post this without Hugo... Claire's new little pup!

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