This summer Canine Companions held a Story Contest, sponsored by Eukanuba. We received so many great submissions – thoughtful, moving and humorous stories about how dogs have changed their lives.

The winning story was submitted by Suzanne from the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon. Suzanne participates in the Prison Puppy Raising Program. The Coffee Creek facility will receive a year’s supply of Eukanuba dog food, thanks Eukanuba! Here is her wonderful story:

I came to prison a changed woman. Unrecognizable as the former woman I had been; a devoted mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend; a contributing member of society. Choices I made that fateful day had hurt the people that mattered most and forever changed our lives. I was haunted by guilt, shame, anger, loneliness and anguish. How could saying I’m sorry ever be enough? Would people ever forgive me? Would I ever learn to forgive myself?

My acceptance into the Coffee Creek Puppy Program has brought new light into my life. All I’ve learned within this program has helped me be more confident, helped me grow, helped me cope with life within these walls. I had been emotionally closed off, but these dogs were the key to opening my heart to life again. I am re-learning forgiveness, laughter, love and joy. The walls I had built to protect my heart have begun to come down.

My responsibilities to these dogs provide a daily purpose for my life. I am able to contribute to society and feel that I am once again a part of humanity. I recognize the parallel of parenting my daughters and training these dogs. Both require of me love, patience, guidance, encouragement and discipline. I am helping them grow to be calm, confident and well-mannered assistance dogs, just as I nurtured my daughters to be happy successful young women. By modeling the behaviors you’re looking for and guiding them they’ll follow their road to success. Praise them, love them, cheer them on!

Today I am a more confident person. I am excited and upbeat when I am called on to speak to a group about this amazing program I am fortunate to be a part of. I can tell them how truly amazing these Canine Companions dogs are destined to be. They are heroes in the making.

Our program here at Coffee Creek has had phenomenal success with the placement of dogs that have passed through our lives. I know I have only a short time to spend with them to help nurture and guide them. I cherish that. These dogs help me with their unconditional love. I am blessed knowing I’ve been a small part of their future success in life. It brings joy to my heart and tears to my eyes hearing of a placement of the dogs. We are helping change someone’s life forever.

Learn more about the Prison Puppy Raising Program. If you have a great story to tell, submit it here.

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