I found Bailey when he was an endearing pup at the Kansas City SPCA. I was looking for a dog to fill the void after Tucker died and couldn’t afford a Tibetan mastiff, Pharaoh Hound or King Charles Spaniel.
After a couple of years, Bailey blossomed into a full fledged member of our family. He cared for the kids, frolicked in the swimming pool and went after squirrels brave enough to venture into our back yard. He was always eager to shoulder his share of the load by taking out the trash, doing the laundry and enjoyed a seat at our dinner table. He even cleaned up after himself when he did his duty on the back lawn. By the time he was 3, he surprised even his piano teacher by learning how to read Mandarin, Punjabi and Min Bei and started tutoring all the kids in the neighborhood. He was such an affable, talented canine I started looking for ways to share his talents with the rest of the community.
I first saw the advertisement for Paws for Prisoners while riding the bus to work. It boasted that the Paws program was a collective effort between advocate groups, local animal shelters and Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary where the inmates taught dogs basic obedience and shared mutual social skills. In return, the animals provided companionship to incarcerated felons. I don’t know why they felt convicted felons were in a position to teach dogs obedience and social skills. After all, wasn’t it the absence of social behavior that got them there in the first place? But, what the heck. Maybe he’d learn something new.