"People are more confident," said Janet Cole, executive director and founder of C.H.A.M.P. "They have a deeper belief system in themselves, and their ability to integrate is vastly improved."
In addition, said Cole
, trainers teach "retrieve" and some tricks, like playing basketball with a toddler-sized hoop.
The dogs vary in size, shape, breed and color.
But one thing is constant: the need for the dogs to be ideal pets in the rough.
staff has some tolerance for dogs feeling the sting of life on the streets, but aggressive dogs and those who like to battle other canines are not right for the program, said Cole
The housing wing, where each trainer kennels the dog in her
college dormitory-type room, is the nicest, calmest place to stay at the detention facility, said Cole
"After the dogs came, the first month, it was down to five or six," said Cole
"And it's been less than 10 [a month] ever since.
The dogs diffuse [a lot]."
staff guide women in not just training the dogs, but in acquiring life, parenting and communication skills.
"Dog training is like parenting - it's positive reinforcement and consistency," said Cole
In an environment where "soft" emotions are hidden, the dogs allow these women to feel unconditional love once more.
When it comes time to give up their charges, the women do feel sad, said Cole
But almost every time, they choose to dig back in and accept another trainee.
Upon release, many inmate-trainers volunteer with C.H.A.M.P.
"on the outside," and some choose various positions in the animal care industry.
Cole's goal is to help make these women stronger, better, more loving women and mothers.
"Those that kept in touch did better on the outside," said Cole