Sarge changed my life. While I was at Second Chance Animal Sanctuary in Norman, they were (and continue to be) part of the Friends for Folks dog training program at the prison in Lexington. I’d worked out an agreement with Lee, who ran the program, that he could select 3 dogs and we would get to give him one.
Lee came into the facility, picked his three and I then took him to Sarge’s kennel. He was met with growls – lots of growls – from a grumpy, irritated gray schnauzer. Lee said “I’m not taking that dog”. My response was “We had an agreement.” It took a few minutes of convincing, but Sarge went to the training program.
Fast forward 6 months, the phones are ringing, dogs are barking and the cats are serenading. Lee calls me and says something to the effect “We have a dog who is going to the Norman Veterans Center to be their resident greeter.” I’m sure I responded appropriately. Then he said “Do you know which dog?” My answer “No”. He said “Sarge”. I know there were a few seconds of dead silence before I said “Sarge, are you sure it’s Sarge?”. Yes it was Sarge.
We were also privileged to be part of the documentary The Dogs of Lexington. You can go to you tube – type in the title and select the one by John Otto. 43 minutes long, so have your beverage of choice handy while you watch. You will see Sarge at his grumpiest, his transformation under the care of Mr. Miller – an inmate- at the prison, and his triumphant introduction to the veterans at the center in Norman.
Then in 2015, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association gave their “Hero Dog of the Year Award” to Sarge. It still gives me goose bumps when I remember watching Sarge confidently standing on the stage, then a few minutes later he realized one of the veterans who was in attendance needed reassuring. Sarge quietly went over to his wheelchair and jumped up in his lap so he could be petted. Sarge just knew.
Today, PAAS is involved with a training program at NOCC (Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center). We see the transformation in the inmates chosen for the program as well as the shelter dogs who live with them. Programs like this change lives – – those of the inmate, their family, the shelter dog, those of us at PAAS who witness the transformation, and the lucky people who adopt a PAAS/NOCC graduate.
This is a picture of Sarge – – – – miracles do happen – he’s one of them.
Kay Stout, Director