Pawsitive Dog Prison Training Program

UPDATE on the 23rd group of prison training dogs who are graduating on April 10 (NEW DATE). We spent the morning today, February 20, at the prison getting to know all the dogs a little bit better. We are about halfway in the program and now is when some of the dogs start showing surprising or unusual behaviors we have not seen before, because they have settled in and feel safe. This is also when the clicker training really gets started. Trainer Carol Byrnes with Diamonds in the Ruff, reminded inmates to pay good attention to "their" dog, including when it is most active. Dogs have circadian rhythms just like people, Byrnes said, and it's important to work with them when they are most active and receptive. If you are interested in adopting a prison dog and you have other dogs/cats or very young children at home, then you must schedule a meet and greet out by the Airway Heights Corrections Facility during the last couple of weeks of the program. The application form is available at the bottom of this page. Please submit your application online or via snail mail no later than March 15 at the end of business.

Questions? Call (509) 467-5235 Ext. 211 or email:

Abigail is a three-year-old terrier mix who looks like she's had a litter of puppies or two. She came into the program as a very sweet and calm dog - and she's really come out of her shell: now she's a bit of a party animal. Abigail is very playful, outgoing and she wants to play with EVERYONE, all the time. She learns quickly but sometimes has a short attention span. But she's a fun and playful dog.

Aspen is just a year old and a Cairn Terrier mix. She came into the program as a very timid dog. She was afraid of the leash and would often "freeze" or simply fall over when she felt overwhelmed. There is good reason to believe she'd never been on a leash before. By now she's learned to walk on a leash and she's also basically stopped whining in the kennel (that was a problem). She loves to cuddle and spent part of today's class first playing with Pete and then resting in the arms of her handler while she got her belly gently scratched.

Vinnie is an outgoing two-year old Australian Cattle Dog mix. He's got that typical Aussie personality of really wanting to work with you, yet he had a temporary setback with his clicker training: something spooked him while he was learning a new trick and suddenly he was afraid of the clicker. Trainer Carol Byrnes said he's a 100 percent dog - either 100 percent happy or 100 percent scared. He is showing a bit of a protective streak guarding the cell where he lives - but hey, he's a working farm dog, that's what he's supposed to do. He learns quickly and has a great personality.

Though at eight years old she's a little bit older than the rest of the group, Roxy is young at heart and she already knows some tricks.She frequently volunteers her favorite - roll over - to get out of doing various other things. She's spot on with the basic cues like sit, stay and down, but she is not very fond of the other dogs - she'd do best in a home with no other dogs. A typical overachiever border collie she loves learning new things and is super excited to go out and train.

Reba is the tiniest Miniature Pinscher we have seen in a long time. Weighing in at maybe 4.5 lbs (while soaking wet) this three-year old girl has a huge personality and it's finally really coming out. She loves to work and she's really found her voice with the other dogs: you may think of her as a little old lady who does not want ANY other dogs to bother her. But she loves people and has become the mascot of the day room: everyone wants to pet her. She's finally gained some weight, she's over 5 lbs now, but she's still too skinny. An attempt to have her wear super tiny boots to help her stay warm was not super successful: she did the funny boot walk and then insisted on being picked up... What can we say? She's a princess - a big dog personality in a tiny dog body.

Sweet Pete, the 7-year-old Chihuahua mix who came in bursting with energy and wiggles, has calmed down quite a bit but he is still a very charming and active dog. He spent a good part of class today trying to play with Aspen and he's just the coolest little guy. He's over the upset stomach he suffered after possibly overindulging on treats during the first rounds of training and he has already learned a lot of tricks. And that snaggletooth is just the best.

Max is a one-year-old Chihuahua mix with an old soul. He's a bit larger than your typical Chihuahua and appears to be the kind of dog you have to spend some time to get to know. He's timid, especially around staff, and he often gets scared by loud noises or sudden moves, but he recovers more and more quickly. He's gotten more curious and a lot more playful. He's a great little dog.

And then there's Candy. This 11-year-old Lhasa Apso was one of a trio of severely matted dogs that were surrendered to us earlier this year. Under all that fur, Candy was quite heavy. She was swaybacked and heavy bellied and she easily lost her breath. But she has lost weight and inches around her waist - actually she's lost so much weight that she slipped out of her collar the other day! The oldest dog in the group, Candy is not really tolerant of the other pups and can be heard yelling "get off my mat!" if anyone gets too close. But she is happy, sweet and very affectionate toward her handlers - she looks amazing and has come a long, long way. Her two sisters were already adopted out (to the same home) and that owner may try to get Candy, too.

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