Dogs saved from death, but who will save the inmates who care for them? An Easter reflection

By Aurelio Palmos

Around 5 p.m. Monday after Easter, we watched news on local TV showing female inmates training dogs taken from shelters to become service dogs.

Some of these dogs are now working with autistic children. A short segment showed a black Labrador following orders from a young autistic girl, indicating proof of positive communication. One out of five of the dogs will finish the course but those who do not are eventually placed in good homes.

I may have heard incorrectly but some of those in training were intended to be euthanized. Somehow angels intervened and gave them a new ‘leash’ on life, granting them relief from a terrible death. They were born exclusively “to love and be loved by” man. They do not have the capability to shed tears and only knows to suffer in silence, waiting to be patted and petted. After completing their training they will be hugged as well.

This story is not only about dogs saved from euthanasia and becoming useful for man they were created to serve.

The story is also about one of the dog trainers, an inmate who is serving a life sentence. The latter gnawing at our hearts telling us that the marginalized and imprisoned may be living a much nobler and much holier life than we who are not bound by their indirectly giving hope to the autistic for whom human communications is not easy.

The gifts that connect the giver and the receiver are man’s best friend — friends who hug with no strings — but leashed, stringed and tethered nevertheless.

That beautiful lady with deep furrows on her face — who had already served 26 years of a life sentence that will only end when she gives up her spirit to the Father in Heaven as in Good Friday — wipes a tear as she says she is merely giving back to the community what life had given her.

She has all the time in the world unfettered by worries about what to eat, what to wear, which movies to watch, which grandkids to buy birthday gifts for, what to wear at her burial, who will deliver the eulogy. She gets out of bed each morning not counting how many days are left for her calendar is dateless and timeless. She faces the day with “no other thought but to love” and maybe “be loved” by the dogs and their beneficiaries because other thoughts do not bear physical fruition.

This is a story of the unfree, the conditionally free and the not-so-free brought together and presented through an ABC 7 news report on “Prison inmates train service dogs to help kids with autism.” A story told through the eyes of a TV journalist and a camera that spotlights three entities — two human and one canine — all of them I firmly believe have God in Heaven, Jesus Christ the Son and the Blessed Mother of God as their only source of hope.

The smiles on the face of those whom the dogs now serve relay to the surface the palpable joy in their hearts, the joy of being understood and to be understood, “the short and simple annals” of the pure in heart.

It is amazing how Easter can bring warmth to the hearts of men.

Motivational speaker and IT professional Aurelio Palmos is a resident of Chino Hills, Calif,. 40 miles east of Los Angeles. He would like to invite people who were moved by the story to send him an email at He is hoping to send them to the lady and her fellow inmates “who are wishing for and dreaming they will someday be free.”

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