Many of Oregon Department of Corrections’ (DOC) 14 institutions have dog training programs. DOC partners with local organizations to house, raise, and train puppies and dogs–sometime to give them a better chance at adoption, and sometimes to prepare the dogs for work as assistance animals. At Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF), the prison partners with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) to train puppies who will then provide independence to a person with a disability.
These dog programs not only benefit the puppies, but the adults in custody (AICs) who work with the animals. In the case of CCCF, AICs train the puppies onsite for approximately 18 months before they move on to more expanded training. Recently, a woman who was matched with a canine companion who was trained at Coffee Creek shared this amazing story:
“I am an extremely grateful woman. My hero, Omaha, came to my rescue and I am here to shout from the rooftops what he did for me. I have been having breathing issues for about a month now and either lay on my side at night with the head of the bed elevated or sit up to sleep. I went to get into a reclining chair I have next to my bed that can be used as a zero gravity chair. I have never used it for that function because of how it lays a person back but I do raise my legs in it to help with swelling.
I went to get into the chair and the controls slipped from my hand. When that happened they fell to the floor and became wedged with the buttons pressed making the chair go into full out zero gravity position. I struggled and struggled to get up but I just wasn’t strong enough. Omaha was sound asleep in his kennel and came flying out to see what was going on. I couldn’t even speak as no air was going in my lungs. I was frantically pointing at the floor and he started looking for what I needed.
He was able to dig out the control and picked it up. But he wanted to give it to me from the opposite side of the chair… the cord was too short! I could only flap my hands by now and was going down for the count… he figured I needed him where my hand was flapping and he rushed over to the right side dropping the control in my lap but I couldn’t pick it up as I was blacking out by now. He kept pushing it and pushing my hand to where I could feel the buttons and I was able to hit the right one. Up we went! And blessed air started filling my lungs! He fretted over me for about 1/2 hour and is still glued to my side or feet but it is good to have him so close. He is my hero!”