Utah Department of Corrections

First dog graduates from training program



Liberty is home.

Two days before Thanksgiving, inmates Bobbie Widdison and Kerri Brown officially turned the Blue Heeler mix over to veteran Caleb Dunham. Over the past seven months, the two women — under the tutelage of Canines With A Cause — turned Liberty into a well-manner companion for Dunham and his family.

The nonprofit began working with inmates at the Timpanogos Women’s Correctional Facility in April to train shelter dogs as companions for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. Liberty was the first to clear the program’s rigorous training requirements.

“I really appreciate it,” Dunham told the two women.

Brown and Widdison knew the day would come when they would say good-bye to Liberty, and sure enough the tears came. The consolation? New dogs, as rough as Liberty once was, are already arriving at the prison.

“The easiest thing about this is knowing how much you love her,” Brown told Dunham. “I know she loves you.”

The women gave Dunham a hand-crocheted blanket and food mat they’d made for Liberty. They also gave him a card signed by other inmates — each placed two thumb-prints together to form a heart — in their unit who’d come to love Liberty over the past months. And they filled him in on all of Liberty’s tricks and quirks.

“When you have something super delicious she’s not used to, she loses all focus and becomes a circus dog,” Brown said. “She’ll do everything. She’ll just start talking and rolling over and just being, like, way crazy because she can’t focus. It’s too delicious.”

Talking? Yep. The two women taught Liberty to “say” something special: I love you. See the video here.