Graceville- Before making the move to their new home at Signature Healthcare in Graceville, residents at the nursing home told us they packed all but one of their most beloved belongings- their dogs.
"Hunny I enjoyed him so much," resident, Sylvia Taylor said of her Shiatsu. And the grandchildren- when they came- they could slide on the floor with him" she laughed.
In the midst of missing their furry friends, an unexpected solution arose. Labrador Retriever puppies from Auburn University's, Canine Detection Research Institute receive training to become detection dogs through an inmate program at the prison in Graceville.
"Ms. Sandra from the prison, from CCA, had contacted me about the training dogs and wanting to come out with the training dogs" Quality of Life Director, Jessica Johnson said. "She comes out a few times a month and brings the dogs and lets them play with the residents."
"A lot of people have had pets and they miss them," Auburn Canine Program Director, Sandra Harding explained, "but another reason is, we need the dogs to be accustomed to people with handicaps. People in wheel chairs, with walkers, that are not verbal- so they will be comfortable with those type people in an environment like that"
After sniffing out the program ourselves- it appeared to be a win for pups, prisoners and patients.
"[Corrections Corporation of America] gives the inmates a lot of opportunities to develop life skills so they can become better members of society once they are out of the prison."
"Oh they love it" Johnson said."They love the dogs. It brings a big smile to their face- it's love!"
And resident, Eddie Eudon Hathaway said that love was reciprocated. "They've always loved me, dogs have" he said with a smile.
Wednesday's visitor was 11 month old Zander. He'll go back to Auburn next month for more training to see if he's suitable as a detection dog.