It has been a few days since I picked Kolby up from Prison. He came home with a weepy eye, so it was a sign that perhaps he had a cold and wasn't feeling too well. Therefore, I didn't know how to judge his amazing behavior the first 24 hours home; was he just that tired and not feeling well, or was this the new and improvement, Post Prison Boot Camp Kolby?!
It is the new Kolby.
What was once a puppy that could not hold still, and who followed the rules on his terms, is now the ever obedient and complying puppy. Part maturity perhaps, but I will never go so far as to ignore the simple fact that he was really in a military prison, being handled by real military prisoners, in a confined area for 2.5 weeks. With that came high structure, authority, and lots and lots of undivided attention and focus on Kolby's training.
I was fortunate enough to visit the prison the day that I took him there, and I left more confident about him being there than I thought I would. I am more of a control freak, so when my puppies go on Puppy Sitter adventures to other Puppy Raisers houses, I am on edge wondering if the Puppy will be "good enough" for them, and in turn if the Raisers will be "good enough" for my puppy. It always works out, but I am just admitting that there is a lot of worry and anxiety during the transition.
This time, I handed the leash with Kolby attached to his new Handler with much confidence. I had toured the facility, and while it is heavily controlled and guarded, there was much movement among the prisoners too. The men who were in the Puppy Program were selected after an intense application and interview board, and of the approximate 125 prisoners, only about 9 are accepted.
Once chosen, the prisoners are allowed to go to the puppy program building where they will live and raise their assigned puppy. The building is more in line of a renovated school portable with three pods of living space in a single aisle separated by a door or gate for the puppies sake; this allows the one room portable to have divisions so the puppies are not overly interacting among one another.
While it is a privilege to be in the puppy program, there is nothing overly fancy about the new digs for these prisoners. In addition, there is no reduction in sentence for being in the puppy program; each must continue to serve out their full length of time.
But in the end, I knew it was the best place for Kolby because as his Handler took the leash from me, in full military order, he showed a distinct sense of pride, respect, and ownership of his new task at hand ~ to get Kolby to respect authority. And that he did.
I am so proud of "whatever" happened in prison with Kolby because the outcome has been immediate and accurate. Kolby is quick to respond to all of his commands, he carries himself with more confidence, and he has found that he can stop moving while in the house (aka: he will maintain a very long Down when commanded without fidgeting and thinking he needs to get up to check to see if his Down is over). He always had a mellow side, but now he has a mature, realistic, go with the flow mellowness that I am so happy to see.
I look into Kolby's eyes and I see peace. I see an understanding that he gets it ~ he does not have to be Mister Into Everything, but he can be Mister I Know Everything. And that he does; one smart puppy has come home to carry out his training and learn about life. I am so excited to see where Kolby's journey takes him.
And - Kolby now enjoys some snuggle time on the couch with me before he gets into his kennel for the night. We had tried this previously and the poor puppy was just so move-oriented that he would never just lay down, he would pounce and bounce.
This week, once the family has retired upstairs to get ready for bed, I have told Kolby "Jump" and patted the couch. He will then slowly walk up (yes, seriously, walk ... he is so darn tall, there is no need to "Jump", but that is the only command I can think to associate what it is that I want him to do). And then he will immediately lay on top of me, and lay his head on my shoulder, and quickly start snoring ever so softly. Oh, the big baby - I just love him.
Post Prison Boot Camp Kolby is a complete success!!
Thank you, Prisoners, for a job well done and for giving back so abundantly. You are a nice part of Kolby's greatness and I will keep you posted about his journey forward.