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.

 

Leon, 45

Leon, 45

Meet Leon…

 We are both successful service dog trainers and recruited to be featured in fundraising videos, which have had thousands of views on YouTube. It was the sibling rivalry that ignited our ongoing competition…

Leon, 45
Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: Monroe Correctional Complex, Washington

It was in the depths of hardship and struggle when our unlikely friendship formed. Since 2007 we have lived, learned, grown, failed, and celebrated many successes together behind the fences of several different prison facilities. Most incarcerated people hold the philosophy that, “I came to prison alone,  I’m going to leave alone, and I’m not here to make friends.” We also felt that way, but over the years, we developed a brotherly bond as well as what you could describe as a sibling rivalry. We are both successful service dog trainers and were recruited to be featured in fundraising videos, which have had thousands of views on YouTube. It was the sibling rivalry that ignited our ongoing competition that led us to our current bet for which one of our videos will be the first to reach 20,000.

It became a daily taunting match. Mine has been out since 2016, so it had a significant number of views by 2018 when Randy’s was posted. Cleverly, Randy contacted a very popular dog rescue company in 2019, and they shared his video through their network. Randy’s video shot up to 9,950 views by 2020, while mine hovered at around 6,400. Calculating the current rate,  it will take Randy 21 years to reach the goal, but I will reach it in a little over 14 years. Randy still has some tricks up his sleeve and I have become wise. It is doubtful that our video views will continue to grow at the current rate, but what will remain the same is the unlikely friendship that we formed through commiseration during hard times. In addition, the competitive rivalry of our brotherhood will likely be with us for life. Therefore, the bet is on and the competition is unbending. To see the videos for yourself, go to Summit Assistance Dogs Monroe Partnership on YouTube.  (Leo’s is 2016, Randy’s is 2018)

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