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By Allan Turner for Houston Chronicle

GATESVILLE — Sharon Cooper, a Houston woman serving 30 years in prison for embezzlement, wasn’t quite sure what she was getting into when she signed up to train dogs with Patriot Paws. Maybe it was all about sitting up, rolling over and doing cute puppy tricks.

She quickly learned, though, that it was about much more: changing lives – her own and others’.

Cooper, 49, is one of 13 female inmates at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Crain Unit devoting their full time to training dogs to aid disabled military veterans. Ten more at the nearby Murray Unit also work in the program.

“I was in awe when I saw what these dogs did,” Cooper said, adding that the training experience has given direction to her own life. “I never really had a passion in life. This could be my passion. This could be my career.”
Many might be surprised at what Patriot Paws dogs, most of whom pretty much appear to be run-of-the-mill Rovers, can do.

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