In Louisiana, a program From the Big House To Your House aims to make shelter dogs more adoptable by teaching them important companion and service skills. But the program doesn't just teach dogs; it teaches prisoners as well. Canines selected for training are taught by state prison inmates, who learn valuable lessons by working with the dogs. The program, which is currently only in Louisiana, also has huge benefits for people who need service dogs but cannot afford to buy a canine assistant.
Jaymee Randell is one of those people. Randell spent years looking for a support dog who could help her live on her own, but the $8,000-$9,000 cost was too much for her to spend. But now, thanks to From the Big House To Your House, Randell has Blondie, a service dog trained to assist the hearing impaired. Because Blondie was rescued from a shelter and trained in the prison program, she only cost a $100 donation fee to adopt. So, when Randell found a picture of Blondie online several months ago, she found a dog that could finally be hers -- until she learned that Blondie had already been adopted.
Or, so it seemed. Randell's mother, Angela, had actually reserved Blondie on her daughter's behalf, then arranged a surprise introduction for the two. They finally met on Wednesday, while Randell and her mother were on a visit to New Orleans. There, Randell learned that Blondie would be able to help her with whatever she needs to live independently, like alerting her to sounds she can't hear. As she told WWLTV, Blondie is giving her the life she's never had. "I want to be happy; I've been depressed," Randell said. "Thank you [Blondie] for saving my life."
William Barse, founder of From the Big House To Your House, said Randell's response is exactly what he hopes his program will help accomplish. "The greatest glory anyone can have is being able to reach down and help another up," Barse said. "Whether it be on four legs or two."