Man Visits Prison With Service Dog – But Dog Sprints Towards Inmate
Feb 17, 2021 by apost team
Since the late 90s, incarcerated women at some maximum-security prisons across America have taken part in dog-training programs organized by the non-profit organization, Puppies Behind Bars. These dogs were not just any kind of dogs, however, as they had a special purpose: to be mental support animals for veterans returning from combat. Laurie Kellogg, an inmate at the Bedford Hills Women's Correctional Facility, became a trainer in one such program and trained Pax, then just a golden retriever puppy.
Kellogg's participation in the program proved crucial to her rehabilitation. Although she was the trainer, little Pax ended up teaching her some valuable lessons about herself. Kellogg had trained Pax to help a wounded veteran suffering from severe PTSD or a brain injury. The two grew very attached to one another; so when the time came for Pax to move on to help his assigned veteran, Sergeant Bill Campbell, Kellogg was in tears. She feared that just like other puppies who are part of the program, she would never get to see Pax again.
Sgt. Campbell returned from Iraq with 100 percent disability due to a concussive brain injury he endured in combat. His experiences as a part of the Army National Guard unit in the Gulf had also caused him to have severe PTSD, which rendered him too scared to even step out of his home in Washington State. When Pax finally came into his life, the canine helped him get back on his feet. Grateful to the person who had trained Pax to help him overcome his fears, Sgt. Campbell took the pup to the prison he grew-up in to meet Kellogg again. Naturally, they were both ecstatic to finally be reunited.
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According to 'The New York Times,' Kellog was assigned as Pax's trainer three weeks after her father passed away. The training program, she claimed, ended up helping her mourn her loss. “He gave me back pieces of myself I forgot even existed," she admitted.
“I knew when they told me [Pax] was going to go into PTSD training he would make somebody feel a sense of freedom that he gave me, in a place I was supposed to feel anything but" Kellogg told the Ophah Winfrey Network.
So her devastation after Pax left the prison doesn't come as a surprise. Sgt. Campbell was well aware of her connection to the puppy and decided to keep in touch with the inmate and send her updates on his new life. She opened up to the veteran and told him just how much Pax had actually helped her overcome her trauma.
“I too had P.T.S.D. after years of domestic violence. I too had flashbacks,” Kellogg told Mr. Campbell. “Pax knew, and he let me know I wasn’t there I was here. I knew he would make someone feel safe. He made me feel a sense of freedom in a place I was supposed to feel anything but.”
Kellogg trained Pax to become the ultimate companion; to always protect his veteran, to serve him when they need it, and to heal them from their past traumas. But he also rehabilitated Kellogg in the process; he helped her value herself, make amends with her past and, as she put it, “restored a piece of [her] soul.”
"He [Pax] gave me back pieces of myself that I forgot even existed," said. "And when he left me and they told me he was going to you, Bill, I sat on my floor and cried. And I realized that by giving me Pax and taking him from me, they had given me the greatest gift anybody had ever given me in my life."
Sgt. Bill Campbell became the first veteran to receive a dog from Puppies Behind Bars' program in 2006. His time in Iraq had changed his life forever. Before his tour, the veteran had worked as a wildlife biologist with a knack for adventure, spending his free time scuba diving, climbing, or bicycling. But when he got back home from combat, his sleep became riddled with nightmares; his days filled with vivid flashbacks. He was too afraid to even leave his house. But after getting paired up with Pax, Sgt. Campbell quickly began to change.
With Pax by his side, Sgt. Campbell felt safe when running errands like shopping at the supermarket. The canine would also be there to soothe the veteran if he were to wake up from a nightmare, or steadies him when he struggles to remember details.
"We'll go into a restaurant for instance and previously it was, 'Where can I sit with my back to a wall? Where is my clearest vantage point?'" Sgt. Campbell said, according to VOA News. "Now when we go in it's, 'Which table has the least crumbs under it? Where is going to be a good place for Pax to be?' So that's been a really helpful thing."
In the fall of 2008, Sgt. Campbell took Pax to reunite with Sgt. Kellogg. Even though the two had already been apart for more than a year, the labrador still remembered his trainer very well. That morning, he watched her closely in the prison lane, then jumped up on the inmate with excitement and “washed [her] face with kisses.” She crocheted a brown woolen doggie bed for the pup, which she handed over to Campbell as a gift.
“I never thought I’d see him again,” Kellogg told the NY Times. “If they opened the doors and let me out of prison, I wouldn’t feel this good.”
The inmates told Sgt. Campbell how they trained their dogs, from teaching them to fetch objects all the way to barking at a radio monitor to alert the emergency services when necessary.
“As inmates, we can understand the loss of freedom,” another inmate at the prison, Jaymie Powers, told the publication. “Through these dogs we can give someone a chance at freedom.”
After that, Pax was taken to see Kellogg's cell, where she raised him when he was just a puppy. She showed him the photos the sargeant had sent her of him, the crate he used to sleep in, and the toys he used to play with. She had kept it all.
Sgt. Campbell's wife, Domenica, who is a prison guard, was also present during the visit. With tears in her eyes, she explained to Kellogg just how much Pax had changed her husband and family's life, and thanked her for her role in training him.
“He has himself back,” Mrs. Campbell said of her husband. “It’s an incredible gift for which I thank all of you.”
Were you touched to see the unbreakable bond between Laurie Kellogg and Pax the labrador? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you pass this along to your friends and family!