There were people there that had service dogs from this company who were there telling their stories. One boy about Molly's age told us that his service dog actually saved his life. He was on a walk and had a seizure, fell into a freezing ice covered swimming pool, and his dog actually jumped in the water and dragged his unconscious body out of the water. He surely would have been dead. He used to have 4 seizures each day and now he has been seizure free for 2 years because the dog is able to catch the signals before he has one and he can get his treatment in time. It is truly amazing.
There was a husband to a type one diabetic woman who also shared about the sleepless nights, and all the times he would roll over to see if his wife was still alive. Now that he has a diabetic alert dog, he says he can finally sleep at night. The dog senses before she gets too low, just like Molly! And I just bawled. I know that fear, I know the thoughts that run through his mind and the peace that the dog gives to him and his wife is life altering in a great way.
When this inmate trainer came to the microphone and shared with all of us what this program, being able to train service dogs, has done for him personally, there was not a dry eye in the room. He talked about all the bad that he had done and how he is so thankful of the opportunity to bring a little good back to the world. He was bawling. A big strong guy, just broken before us. He said he got incarcerated so early in his life and is in there for life, so he will never get to have a family or children, but this gives him a chance to have a child (the dog), and the dog actually teaches him to be a good father, a good human, and a blessing to another person who needs the help that the dog can offer. It is truly amazing.
We got to spend several hours with TEDDY. Molly got to start the bond with him and the inmate trainers were showing her all the things he could do. They hid her diabetic bag and asked Teddy to find it and he sniffed around a room filled with lots of other dogs, and 75 people, no less, and he was able to find it and bring it back to her. AMAZING! We saw how he alerts and he would tap her and turn in a circle. We kept hearing from other volunteers that we got the best trainers in the whole prison and I could clearly see why. They handed us a huge binder filled with page after page of every day, every moment that TEDDY was worked with. Hundreds of pages and a scrapbook of photos of TEDDY. They handed her a collar that they had embossed with his name, toys, treats, and everything that was special to him. Tears were shed, it was a very bittersweet moment when the prisoners had to say goodbye for the last time to their dogs that they had invested such a HUGE amount of time into, bonded with, and poured love into over the past few years.
We left the prison and headed to the hotel where they train us 8 hours each day for 10 more days. We will get to work with TEDDY tomorrow for a few hours and then on Sunday he will be with us in his new forever home doing his new forever life saving job. Thank you all who have joined hands with us in getting this to happen for our daughter. She is so thankful and so excited to have peace of mind and a precious bond with her new service dog!