Aaron, 33

Aaron, 33

Meet Aaron..

“Taking care of puppies is like taking care of children; you have to be mature, responsible, and available at all times outside of being able to train puppies.”

Aaron, 33

Incarcerated: 9 years

Housed: San Quentin

I’ve been in San Quentin for three years now. When I heard they would have a dog program, I quickly applied for a transfer and was fortunate enough to be accepted. My dog’s name is Artemis, but I call him “Artie” for short, and he came to San Quentin at four months old. Artie came from Canine Companions, a service dog program that raises puppies for a year to become service dogs for someone in need. Being in this program has taught me compassion, awareness, and accountability. Taking care of these puppies is like taking care of children; you have to be mature, responsible, and available at all times outside of being able to train puppies. This has also helped residents like myself and staff communicate more normally versus the “us vs. them” old communication style. Canine Companions is an agent of change in San Quentin, and I’m glad to be a part of it. We have great camaraderie among all the trainers, staff, and San Quentin. When people see the dogs, it’s a morale booster for everyone, and I want to help advance this program in any way I can.

 

Michael, 33

Michael, 33

Meet Michael..

I am forever grateful for finding the strength to shift my perspective by finding opportunities in unfortunate situations and turn that pain into the desire to be successful.”

Michael, 33

Incarcerated: 8 years

Housed: California State Prison – Solano, Vacaville

Being away from family, familiar faces, physical touch, and outside communication have not happened intentionally. Despite growing up behind these electric and barbed wire fences, being in prison has forced me to become a respectable man, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I have a ten-year-old son I love beyond his physical appearance. I have enrolled in parenting classes to sharpen the tools I will need for this beautiful creature I created. Throughout these eight years, I have lost ten family members to overdoses, heart conditions, and a suicide. How do I cope with continuous tragedy locked in a concrete box with no visits because my family is too far away? I have had not one visit since my incarceration. When is there time for healing? Shutting down felt like the only logical thing to do, I cut off everyone I knew. The people I grew up with, females included. I felt like everything, and everyone was a distraction to me. I closed that door to companionship while focusing on self-development, proper etiquette, and financial freedom, which is imperative for my future success. I took the initiative of getting forklift certified while incarcerated. I still and currently enjoy the Solano Community College Rush Scholars program, majoring in business and technology, I graduated from Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute and was accepted into a chef program upon release. Being alone has its rewards. I am forever grateful for finding the strength to shift my perspective by finding opportunities in unfortunate situations and turning  pain into the desire to be successful. Now, that door to all beautiful things has opened for me once again, and this time, I am ready to walk through it with grace and confidence.

 

Brian, 55

Brian, 55

Meet Brian..

“She was super-charged with neurotic twirling and jumping at the prospect of rejoining the humans or “tall dogs” with which she shared a mutual adoration.”

Brian, 55

Incarcerated: 31 years

Housed: CA State Prison – Solano, Vacaville

Even today, more than 25 years after her passing, I sometimes wonder if Princess thought that my mom and dad, my two sisters, and my brother and I were a pack of two-legged dogs? Did she believe she was the one special furry human on all fours that all of the less special humans catered to? This black miniature French poodle with a single white diamond-shaped patch on her chest was spoiled and loved. Princess was 16 when she died, and she might have lived longer if my dad hadn’t accidentally broken her hip pulling into the driveway, not seeing the overly excited small dog running around eager to greet him. She was super-charged with neurotic twirling and jumping at the prospect of rejoining the humans or “tall dogs” with which she shared a mutual adoration. There wasn’t much that Princess wasn’t invited to: our beds, the couch, scraps underneath the table, and even family outings usually reserved for human beings. One night, Princess and I were home alone and the darkness felt a bit thicker than usual. Having been admonished multiple times by my parents about wasting electricity I wasn’t paying for, I turned off every light and plugged in a nightlight. Princess’ dimly glowing eyes met mine in anticipation and supplication “Jump!” I offered her. She leaped first to the soft crescent shaped chair then on to my bed and immediately laid down, awaiting my sure affection. Either Princess didn’t know I was a smidgen concerned about being in the pitch-back house. I also didn’t tell her I’d allowed her on my bed should something happen.Then, something happened, we both saw it at the same time. There had always been stories of an apparition or two visiting our home. This time it was a little girl in a long white gown heading down the hall into my parent’s room. Princess jumped to attention, “Go get it!” I said. She dove from the bed, charging into the room barking ferociously. I turned on every light then searched my parents’ room. That type of fearlessness deserved a snack and several minutes of cuddling and scratches under her chin. I still love Princess, even in her absence.

 

Michael, 71

Michael, 71

Meet Michael..

“I believe children should learn how to cook: bake bread, cookies, and simple cakes using a humble kitchen stove. Both boys and girls should learn it. Learning to cook and bake gives children a sense of self-esteem and pride in their accomplishments: I’m so smart, I can learn anything!”

Michael, 71

Incarcerated: 10 years

Housed: San Quentin

Fatty Meat in a Sour Sauce

Ingredients:

3 lbs Fatty meat

1 cup Sour fruit like cranberry  juice 

1 tsp Cumin powder

1 tsp Masala spice

Salt, peppers, garlic to taste.

 

Cooking:

Cut sour fruit like plums. Cook them for a few minutes in a stainless pot adding some water or cranberry juice.

Add cumin, spices, salt, pepper, garlic (minced), and stir.

The sour sauce is ready. Add fatty meat, bring to boil, and cook on low heat, hardly boiling, until well done.

You can use pork chops, shoulders, ribs, belly – any part of a pig.

You can use brisket, which is a cow belly, shoulder, ribs, but no rump which is hind legs. 

Chicken legs or quarters can be cooked in cranberry-mix juice. Ducks are really delicious when cooked completely submerged in juice.

Cranberry jam mixed with water makes a good sour sauce.

For a very quick dinner you can use store-bought ground meat. It has enough fat to qualify as fatty meat.

Just add a couple of eggs, mix, form meatballs, and cook in a sour sauce for 15-20 minutes. 

Eggs, or its protein, keep the meat balls together, prevent from falling apart, and keeps meat juice inside.

If meat is too fat, cook it in sour sauce for about 30 minutes.

Separately, cook lean meat like beef rump in a small amount of water for about 30 minutes.

Grind both meats, mix them, add eggs, form meat balls, and cook in the sour sauce another 10-15 minutes.
You will discover that good meat is fat meat, and a sour sauce is sent from heaven. 

Serve with rice on a side, or bread.

Meat cooked in a sour sauce has even a better taste the next day because the flavor goes inside the meat.

 

Dale, 67

Dale, 67

Meet Dale..

“I thought I knew the pain of being alone, but I didn’t really.”

Dale, 67

Incarcerated: 15 years

When I was watching the show, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, I cried- a hard cry. I didn’t give it much thought and I actually hid it from my cellie. A week later, it came on again and I told my cellie I was watching it. He said you cried the last time, and I said – at least I can still cry! I watched it, and yup, I cried again. The story is about a dog who waits for his human for years to come back from work, where his human has a heart attack and dies. This dog waited every single day for his human to come home until he died. The next day I was thinking, why am I crying over this show? I’m getting teary-eyed just writing about it. I asked myself why this affected me so much?! So I applied this to my life, looking for that elusive, why? I considered my life, I am the oldest of five, and eight years older than my first sister. For eight years, I was the star in everyone’s life and when my siblings were born that was taken away. Feeling unloved, I searched for love outside the family. My father was in the Air Force, and we moved every three or four years, so I looked at this. Many more whys come up. Long-term friendships are unknown to me. This dog’s longing for love typifies my longing. I thought I knew the pain of being alone, but I didn’t really. I considered that because I couldn’t get the affection the way I wanted it, I closed off. I find it hard to accept the love and acceptance others have for me. I don’t know how, but I know this now, and I am trying to accept others’ concerns for me and learning how.   

 

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