There are moments in life when I sit back and think, “Why the heck am I scooping poop off my carpet?”
Which brings me to our new dog.
We just adopted a lovable mutt. Part golden retriever, part collie. And he just got out of prison. Seriously.
It all started when my daughter spotted his bio on the Internet. “My name is Felony, and I got my name for a reason,” the bio begins. “I am able to escape most fences. I have an Olympic gold medal in counter surfing.”
Any normal adult would read that line and hide the doggy treats. An 11-year-old girl skips past the red flags and sees an adorable, yellow-haired, floppy-eared, tail waggin’ piece of love, just waiting for a second chance.
Felony was about to be euthanized when he was rescued from a shelter by Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan and sent to Lakeland Correction Facility in Coldwater to be trained for three months by select, specially trained prisoners, and by that I mean, no one named Michael Vick.
This program has saved about 60 dogs in 1 1/2 years. The prison also has a sister program that has saved about 300 greyhounds, at no cost to state taxpayers.
“It’s been very well accepted by staff and by the prisoners,” said Warden Carol Howes, who has two dogs herself. “The artists started drawing pictures of the dogs. The sewers made coats for the dogs out of old prison jackets. Some of the songwriters wrote a theme song. Everybody got behind the program.”
It’s a program where everybody wins. The dogs get to, you know, stay alive. The prisoners learn to be responsible, taking care of the dogs 24 hours a day. Prison yard tension has eased. And here’s my favorite part: We ended up with a new dog.
Before we could get Felony, we had to pass a home visit. For days, my wife and kids cleaned like a head of state was coming over. When an organizer arrived, my kids actually behaved for 60 glorious minutes and, somehow, we passed.
A few weeks ago, Felony got out of prison and my wife picked him up, or as I like to say, we sprung him from the big house.
In honor of his unusual background, we considered renaming Felony after a famous prisoner. Charles Manson? No, he scares me. Al Capone? Hmm. Possibly. Bonnie and Clyde sounded fun, but I’m not sure they ever made it to prison. And I can’t imagine yelling, “Come here, Kwame!”
In the end, the name Felony stuck. Fel for short. And I have to admit, he’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever seen, although he has had a few accidents on our carpet. But hey, prison re-entry programs are never perfect.
Felony came with three typed pages of tricks and instructions. He can sit up. High-five. Roll over. Play dead. And he bakes a mean cake with a file hidden in it. (I’m kidding, I hope.)
This dog is amazing, but he’s got an attitude. The other day, Felony was on a walk, and a little poodle started yelping at him. Felony had a look that screamed: “Kid, you have no idea who you are messin’ with. I know people. People who know people.”