N A I T, flickr Creative Commons

Staffing shortages at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility have resulted in the end of a partnership allowing inmates to train service dogs.

The correctional facility has worked with Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services, or CARES, since 2009. Since then, 125 inmates have been involved in the basic training of 245 service dogs.

The prison had one full-time officer overseeing the program, but because of an on-going hiring shortage that officer is now in a security job.

Joe Penniston, flickr Creative Commons

Been reading an excellent book about dogs. It’s titled “The Inside of Dogs,” and is by Alexandra Horowitz. Among the many intriguing aspects of our canine friends covered in the book, is this one: Dogs have an extra organ that sits above the roof of the mouth and along the floor of the nose. It’s called the vomeronasal organ. It contains receptors for molecules of scents. By some estimates, dogs have a sense of smell that may be over a million times greater than ours.

Blake Facey / Flickr / Creative Commons

Hooray for Thundershirts! Our dog, Lucy, is deathly afraid of thunderstorms and firecracker pops. She would nervously pace the house every time a storm came or on the Fourth of July, virtually inconsolable, shaking and cowering until the noise stopped.

Then a friend told us about the Thundershirt. It’s basically a wrap-around for dogs that attaches with Velcro and somehow provides them the comfort they need to make it through the rumbles and explosions of our violent Kansas storms. The Thundershirt has saved the day for Lucy.

Lucy can’t get over us human beings.

Olga Martschitsch / Flickr / Creative Commons

Of all the measures of time that humans have invented, the one I have the biggest problem with is dog years.

Here we are again. The dog days of summer. The perfect time to reflect... on dogs.

I was considering the paranoid, fearful actions of our oh-so-very-conservative legislature yesterday, and I’m afraid I uttered an unmentionable word out loud. Our Airedale Lucy came bounding into my office to comfort me.

Christmas seems like a good time to reflect on all things warm and wonderful. In other words, on dogs. Proudly open about their feelings, dogs seem to have the sort of values and traits that sometimes put us unpredictable, ungrateful, back-stabbing human beings to shame. Dogs can be fiercely loyal, protective and attentive to our needs. And furthermore, they treat us as if we really do deserve this sort of behavior.

When I got out of bed this morning, our dog Lucy did her usual dance of jubilation. Her front paws shot up in the air repeatedly, making a mockery of gravity, and she wiggled all over, enthusiastic at the sight of my awakening—sighing and huffing, then pouncing about and just making a general spectacle of herself.