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As I stare down into his warm, honey eyes my heart melts.  My stomach churns in a way nothing has ever made it before. The sensational chemistry and love we share in incomparable to anything I've ever experienced. Sadly enough, it's only temporary.  He's unaware of it but I know it's inevitable.  The lasting effects, however, will stay with me for the rest of my life.  Every single life I've changed, touched, altered, just to see those warm honey eyes stare back longingly.

Yes, this is a love story, but not one you may be thinking of.  It's a special, beautiful, one-of-a-kind love.  The greatest part is, I get to experience it over and over again.  The love between a four legged companion and their person.  I joined the Prison Trained Canine Companion Program in December of 2021.  Prior to that, it was a roller coaster ride of poor choices and even worse circumstances.  One would think that the oath that led me to prison would've been enough to help me get my head on straight.  Quite the contrary, I continued on a downward spiral even after I arrived in November of 2015.

I'd heard about the dog program. I'd seen them in the yard.  I'd wanted it, just not badly enough, at least not yet.  I bounced in and out of maximum custody and back and forth to "The Hole."  Not gaining much but a bad reputation and losing more time I couldn't afford to.  Every time I got around those dogs though it'd lift me up, even if only for the moment.

Eventually, I grew up a lot.  Grew tired of the repetitive, negative monotony.  I went to school, got involved in some programs.  I began doing better, not just for me, however, I really wanted one of those dogs.  Every time I saw one it'd remind me to smile, to be grateful, to be hopeful. Finally, in December of 2021 I'd made it.  I was officially a K9 handler. Little did I know all the hard work that still lay ahead.

The long days on your feet.  The hectic schedule. You no longer lived for you, you lived for Fido.  Late night puppy-poopie wake up calls.  Early morning training sessions. The walks, cleaning up the potty areas, bath times, feeding times, studying, testing, journaling.  Wow, this is a whole lot different than any fast food job I've ever had.

Those eyes, then I see those eyes.  The way they love you unconditionally.  They look to you for guidance, faith, love, hope, compassion.  No matter how rough the day was or what else is troubling you, one look at the love in those eyes and it fades away.  The K9 program has given me purpose.  It gives me a reason to wake up everyday.  A reason to strive for my very best.  I know that every ounce of hard work, sweat and tears is worth the betterment of these dogs.  To know I could at least help them, even though I may feel helpless to right many of my own wrongs, is more than enough for me.  That is why I do this, why I'll continue to do this.  This program has made me a better me in every way and I am eternally grateful.




Nehemiah Almodovar