We are pleased to join the efforts of MCF (Minnesota Correctional Facility) in Shakopee, MN and Sunshine Service Dogs in training service dogs. The cooperation of all the community at MCF (Staff and offenders) to train service dogs will dramatically change the lives of those that service dogs will be placed with, along with their families and communities. The hard work and energy that the offender/handlers put into training these service dogs, under the direction of Lori Peper-Rucks, Training Director of Sunshine Service Dogs and the MCF staff, will soon turn these young dogs into working service dogs.  The cooperation of other offenders in the institution, resemble the future community the service dogs will soon be living and working in, this very important. The part the institutional community plays in training is by the everyday distractions of a community, and by respecting the service dogs and their handlers.

We know some of the offenders and people in the public have questions as to how and why these dogs are trained to do the things they do. The reason is they need to be very comfortable and well behaved in home and the community, so they can perform the tasks they are trained to do, to assist someone with their daily tasks, making their lives more independent, secure, and they have a sense of freedom. I always tell all our volunteers that I wish everyone could be there when I place a service dog with it’s new owner and they are so excited for their new partner and for the help these dogs give them, changing their lives dramatically.

The Sunshine Service Dogs, Training Director who works with MCF handlers is Lori, a professional that has been training dogs since 1975. She finds great joy in her gift of training dogs. Dogs have been useful since the beginning; used for hunting, protection, herding, and companionship, so it is natural we use these highly intelligent animals for our benefit. A Service Dog is trained to adapt its lifestyle to offer assistance to individuals with disabilities. Service Dogs are a reasonably new concept; we are still learning what they are capable of, in helping people with disabilities.

With working with the women at the MCF in Shakopee, it has been an tremendous experience for me, Lori, to see many of the women turning their lives around, taking the opportunity of furthering their education or getting their GED, learning trades, parenting classes, taking drug and alcohol education, within the facilities programs. Having the Sunshine Service Dog program in the facility since September of 2004, the women have trained dogs for Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and detection dogs. After interviewing the women as to how the service dog program has benefited MCF in Shakopee, is it has given the women an opportunity to restore to the public some of what they have taken away. The dogs make a more relaxed atmosphere within the facility, and have taught the women better communication, goal setting, setting boundaries, leadership, are more confident in everything else they set out to do. The comment was made to Lori that “the classes they have at MCF are very helpful and you can get educated, but the service dog program teaches things you can’t learn from a book”. These are skills they will need to be able to succeed, when the women come back into our communities. We are pleased and proud to have the MCF in Shakopee, MN to team up with Sunshine Service Dogs in this outreach program.

 

 

“..ask the animals and they will teach you and they will tell you.”

Job 12:10
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