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Unread 08-14-2010, 07:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Brig inmates train dogs to help wounded vets

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Brig inmates will train dogs to assist wounded veterans
By Schuyler Kropf
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix with loving dark eyes, scooped a dime off the gym floor with his teeth before proudly marching back to his handler.

It was a neat trick. But the seriousness of what Titus is trained for came through when he tried to balance a cumbersome, 10-pound prosthetic leg in his jaws. "If he doesn't put it right in my hand, I have him repeat the task," trainer Rick Hairston said.

Titus' appearance at the Naval Consolidated Brig on Wednesday kicked off a new mission behind the wire where incarcerated servicemen will begin training service dogs for America's "wounded warriors," mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the course of hundreds of hours, brig prisoners will become skilled in teaching dogs simple tasks, such as finding a TV remote control, retrieving drinks from inside a refrigerator, picking up car keys or loading a washing machine one garment at a time.

They also will learn more vital missions that border on mini-rescues: acting as a balance when someone falls and needs help standing up, or finding a quick path out of a crowded room when bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder suddenly arise.

Advocates see multiple benefits in the program beyond helping wounded vets, with prisoners learning job skills and dogs rescued from kennels getting a second chance. Even the notion of canines having a calming effect on incarcerated men is considered a bonus.

"It's contagious," said Cmdr. Raymond Drake, commanding officer at the brig. "A dog brings out the best in people. It's man's best friend for a reason."

Service dogs for wounded military men and women have been around for decades, yet the effort is a new one for Charleston's military prisoners. The brig's program is a meshing of Carolina Canines for Service, a civilian group, and Carolina Canines for Veterans, a military group.

Until recently the program had been based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but the effort was shifted to the brig under the most recent base realignment.

Titus, a service dog rescued from a Horry County shelter, has been trained to help service-wounded veterans as part of Carolina Canines for Service. The effort using military inmates started in North Carolina but has been moved to the Naval Consolidated Brig near Goose Creek.

In the coming weeks, inmates from Camp Lejeune will move to Charleston to get the basic training started. The first crop of dogs will number about seven.

Supporters hope as many as 20 service dogs at a time will eventually be living with brig inmates, learning their commands and tasks that cover everything from pushing elevator buttons to getting dressed and opening doors and cabinets.

Inmates are selected as trainers based on their demeanor, crimes and length of incarceration. Training just one dog can take as many as 2,000 hours.

During his demonstration Wednesday, Titus responded to a simple laser-pointer Hairston directed on objects he wanted retrieved, including a plastic soda bottle and a briefcase. The training is valued at $40,000 per animal and is donated by Carolina Canines.

Hairston, the group's president and CEO, said a dog's training can be customized to suit a particular war injury.

He recalled one military officer wounded in Bosnia who lost sight in her left eye. Her service dog was trained to always work from the left, her weak side. The individual who trained her dog also was made to wear an eye patch so he could relate to her one-sided blindness.

In another training method designed for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress, dogs are taught to mark a 3-foot space around someone by walking in a leashed circle, clearing people away who might be crowding the individual.

Other dogs that will work with paraplegics learn to work around wheelchairs. Veterans are solicited nationally and can register via Carolina Canines website.

Not all the shelter-dog recruits make the cut. Titus, for instance, won't ever be placed with a veteran because of a dislike he shows for toddlers, especially noisy ones.

Hairston said his reward is in working with dogs every day and making the lives of wounded service people manageable after their sacrifice. But the number of wounded from the recent wars concerns him as well.

"The sad news is, I will never run out of work," he said.

Rescue dogs

Carolina Canines for Service is a nonprofit organization that trains dogs for people with disabilities. In 2008 the group began training rescue dogs from shelters to assist wounded veterans. The program began at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and has been shifted to the Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan.

The dogs are trained to perform more than 70 tasks, including retrieving and carrying objects, opening doors and helping with stress and balance difficulties. About seven dogs will be part of the brig's first training crop, but officials hope to have as many as 20 being trained there at a time.

Wounded veterans are solicited nationally. The organization is not connected to the U.S. military and operates on public donations. For more information see the group's website at CCFS Home.
For photos and video see:

Brig inmates will train dogs to assist wounded veterans - Charleston SC - The Post and Courier - postandcourier.com
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Unread 08-14-2010, 08:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"Training just one dog can take as many as 2,000 hours"
Dang, I never knew that! Kudos to these guys. They do valuable work and certainly have the time for it.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 08:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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"Training just one dog can take as many as 2,000 hours"
Dang, I never knew that! Kudos to these guys. They do valuable work and certainly have the time for it.
It certainly is a more productive and positive way to pass their time.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 08:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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"Training just one dog can take as many as 2,000 hours"
Dang, I never knew that! Kudos to these guys. They do valuable work and certainly have the time for it.
yep. right from birth. it's carefully screened and conditioned. We have a volunteer program at my college where students raise puppies until they're old enough to begin training.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 08:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix with loving dark eyes, scooped a dime off the gym floor with his teeth before proudly marching back to his handler.
amazing..... and I still have hard time to pick a dime off the table/floor.....
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Unread 08-14-2010, 08:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That's great! Hope this program continues to be successful especially with the prisoners.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 08:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That's great! Hope this program continues to be successful especially with the prisoners.
not to be a stick in the mud but this kind of canine program is usually short-lived because of budget issue (lack of donation) and lack of volunteers.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Why are they're using a Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix to pick up a 10 pound leg. ! That is animal abuse! I am not against training dogs to help wounded vets , but come on now let be fair to the dog. Neads is training dog for wounded vets too. I send an email to Nighty News with Brian Williams about Neads doing this and they when to Neads and had a report on the news about it.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My hearing dog was trained by inmates too. I met the inmate that trained my dog and he told me he really enjoyed working with my dog and miss him but he felt good that he was able to give back something to society.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Why are they're using a Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix to pick up a 10 pound leg. ! That is animal abuse! I am not against training dogs to help wounded vets , but come on now let be fair to the dog. Neads is training dog for wounded vets too. I send an email to Nighty News with Brian Williams about Neads doing this and they when to Neads and had a report on the news about it.
huh? why? how is that an animal abuse? Titus is not some 15 lbs dog if that's what you're thinking.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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huh? why? how is that an animal abuse? Titus is not some 15 lbs dog if that's what you're thinking.
A skinny dog always look underfed to me . My poodle weight 50 lbs and I would not want him to try and pick up something that weight 10 lbs.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Why are they're using a Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix to pick up a 10 pound leg. ! That is animal abuse! I am not against training dogs to help wounded vets , but come on now let be fair to the dog....
Labs love to pick up big and heavy objects; it's not abuse. My Labs used to pick up logs and fallen tree limbs and run around with them. The logs were so long they dragged on the ground. I had two Labs, a mother and son, and they not only dragged the tree limbs around, they'd chase each other with them, and shake them back and forth.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A skinny dog always look underfed to me . My poodle weight 50 lbs and I would not want him to try and pick up something that weight 10 lbs.
well.... that's poodle..... and this is lab mix. Lab = a very capable dog who was born to pick up anything and has a tail that can possibly break anything within its reach



he looks perfectly healthy and capable. I think the writer wrote "Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix with loving dark eyes, scooped a dime off the gym floor with his teeth before proudly marching back to his handler." for theatrical purpose in a literary sense.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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not to be a stick in the mud but this kind of canine program is usually short-lived because of budget issue (lack of donation) and lack of volunteers.
I don't think they'll run out of volunteers in the brig.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I don't think they'll run out of volunteers in the brig.
I meant the volunteers to raise them from birth and to train/condition them. But in this case - the dogs were rescued from kennels and there are brig prisoners. This program would work..... until somebody cuts off the funding. I pray not!
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:46 PM   #16 (permalink)
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well.... that's poodle..... and this is lab mix. Lab = a very capable dog who was born to pick up anything and has a tail that can possibly break anything within its reach



he looks perfectly healthy and capable. I think the writer wrote "Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix with loving dark eyes, scooped a dime off the gym floor with his teeth before proudly marching back to his handler." for theatrical purpose in a literary sense.
Labs are generally stocky, so any normal size dog appears "skinny" in comparison. Since Titus is mixed, his body looks smaller than a full Lab's but not undersized for other breeds.

The video shows Titus pick up leg quite easily, no struggling, and trot easily over to the trainer, wagging his tail.
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:52 PM   #17 (permalink)
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One thing I don't like about lab is.... its drooling & slobbering
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Unread 08-14-2010, 10:59 PM   #18 (permalink)
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One thing I don't like about lab is.... its drooling & slobbering
Yes, our Labs drooled, especially the male; he had very big jowls. He also had terrible gas. Ugh!
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Unread 08-15-2010, 11:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
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A skinny dog always look underfed to me . My poodle weight 50 lbs and I would not want him to try and pick up something that weight 10 lbs.
hahahahahahhahahhaaaaaaaaaaaa wee....

So it's abuse when I played tug-o-war with my roomie's 75 or so pounds pitbull mix and she was dangling in the air holding the rope with her teeth?
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Unread 08-15-2010, 11:42 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I think someone is underestimating dogs' ability...



Labs are heavier than many medium-sized dogs. My dog, a 35lbs 16" shoulder-height, Shiba Inu, could haul an adult in a sled. He used to bring some heavy stuff, well more than half his weight. to us as well under his own will without any training.



Hell, my 2-5lbs ferret would drag things, which are 15-20lbs, or more to his hidey-hole.
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Unread 08-15-2010, 02:10 PM   #21 (permalink)
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hahahahahahhahahhaaaaaaaaaaaa wee....

So it's abuse when I played tug-o-war with my roomie's 75 or so pounds pitbull mix and she was dangling in the air holding the rope with her teeth?
Our Labs used to hold one end of a towel, and we'd twirl around spinning them in the air. They loved it!

Another relative has a Rottweiler, and he does the same thing with a heavy duty rubber ring.

Dogs keep coming back for more; they don't want to quit playing.
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Unread 08-15-2010, 02:39 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I think someone is underestimating dogs' ability...



Labs are heavier than many medium-sized dogs. My dog, a 35lbs 16" shoulder-height, Shiba Inu, could haul an adult in a sled. He used to bring some heavy stuff, well more than half his weight. to us as well under his own will without any training.



Hell, my 2-5lbs ferret would drag things, which are 15-20lbs, or more to his hidey-hole.
eh? shiba inu? dog sledder? but.... it's so tiny!
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Unread 08-15-2010, 02:42 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Our Labs used to hold one end of a towel, and we'd twirl around spinning them in the air. They loved it!

Another relative has a Rottweiler, and he does the same thing with a heavy duty rubber ring.

Dogs keep coming back for more; they don't want to quit playing.
wow I'm impressed that you're able to do that to labs. I don't think I can without breaking my back!

I did this for pitbulls during my time at Animal Shelter but they're lighter than labs. But the management discouraged me to do that because it makes them more aggressive
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Unread 08-15-2010, 03:29 PM   #24 (permalink)
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wow I'm impressed that you're able to do that to labs. I don't think I can without breaking my back!
We were younger then.

It's not like lifting the dogs. Centrifugal force from the spinning picks them up. You can get dizzy though.

My Labs were tough, especially the male (nicknamed "Bear"). He chewed up snakes (was also bitten on the face by them), chomped down on a dead porcupine (got a mouth full of quills), and ate the fiberglass insulating blanket off the water heater.

I was walking him on a leash thru the woods of Wisconsin once when he spotted a deer. He took off after it and dragged me, belly on the ground, thru the woods for a ways.

He used to pull my daughter in her wagon. He didn't have a harness, so she just held on to his leash, which was attached to a choke collar. He didn't feel a thing.

I think he also had OCD. After playing, he would collect up his Frisbees (he had several) and keep them lined up, evenly spaced, on the lawn.

Sometimes he wouldn't watch where he was going when chasing an airborne Frisbee. He'd run full speed into our big oak trees. It would knock the wind out him, then he'd get right back to playing like nothing happened.

Both Labs used to play tug-of-war with each other using old towels.
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Unread 08-15-2010, 07:11 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted

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Originally Posted by souggy View Post
Wirelessly posted

I think someone is underestimating dogs' ability...



Labs are heavier than many medium-sized dogs. My dog, a 35lbs 16" shoulder-height, Shiba Inu, could haul an adult in a sled. He used to bring some heavy stuff, well more than half his weight. to us as well under his own will without any training.



Hell, my 2-5lbs ferret would drag things, which are 15-20lbs, or more to his hidey-hole.
eh? shiba inu? dog sledder? but.... it's so tiny!
Well, to be fair, he was an oversized one. Stocky. 2" taller than the maximum breed standard.

He wasn't overweight, just not show-dog quality. He is huge compared to all the other Shibas we've met; I doubt the others within the same breed could pull a sled, so that's why I mentioned size and weight. Anyway, the point is looks deceive.
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Unread 08-15-2010, 07:35 PM   #26 (permalink)
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well.... that's poodle..... and this is lab mix. Lab = a very capable dog who was born to pick up anything and has a tail that can possibly break anything within its reach



he looks perfectly healthy and capable. I think the writer wrote "Titus, a skinny yellow Lab mix with loving dark eyes, scooped a dime off the gym floor with his teeth before proudly marching back to his handler." for theatrical purpose in a literary sense.
I saw a skinny dog the other day and you could all the ribs on the dog and you would be able to feel the ribs too . So that what I was thinking of when I read it was skinny yellow Lab mix , I could only think of a dog that was not being fed enough and that is animal abuse. Come to think of it I have seen dogs walking around with a huge stick in their month .
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Unread 08-15-2010, 09:30 PM   #27 (permalink)
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He took off after it and dragged me, belly on the ground, thru the woods for a ways.
I'd pay Doctor Who to take me to that moment
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Unread 08-16-2010, 12:39 AM   #28 (permalink)
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We were younger then.

It's not like lifting the dogs. Centrifugal force from the spinning picks them up. You can get dizzy though.

.
I got dizzy reading about it
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Unread 08-16-2010, 08:32 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I'd pay Doctor Who to take me to that moment
Yeah, my family got a good laugh out of that one.
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Unread 08-16-2010, 08:33 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I got dizzy reading about it
We had to quit before the dogs did.
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