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Feel-good story: Colorado prison-trained dog turned autistic boy’s life around

Feel-good story: Colorado prison-trained dog turned autistic boy’s life around

Susy Tucker marks the time her autistic son, Zach, began hugging her again — after a lapse of four years — by the arrival of Clyde, a chocolate Labrador trained behind bars by a convicted killer.

Within three weeks of Clyde’s arrival at the Tuckers’ home in Colorado Springs, Zach went from petting his dog to wrapping his arms around his mother. It was a stunning moment, one of many to follow. The boy who once grimaced and whined at any skin-to-skin contact had learned the warmth of touching from a dog.

Zach and Clyde’s story is one of redemption — of how a rescue dog, a prisoner and a boy learned empathy and understanding from one another.

Zach’s parents had run out of ideas and were skeptical when they stepped into the visiting room at the high-security Sterling prison in June 2011. They were just desperate enough to explore inmate Christopher Vogt’s hunch that he could help their son emerge from his shell.

In prison, Vogt learned to train service dogs for disabled people, and over the course of a decade he has trained scores of dogs that have lived, one at a time, in a cage in his cell.

He later read books about autism and eventually won permission from prison officials to try to train dogs for kids.

The experiment has been a shining success, said Debi Stevens, director of the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program.

Since Tucker took Clyde home,

Read more: Colorado prison-trained dog turned autistic boy’s life around – The Denver Post  Kirk Mitchell.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. My blue heeler is a prison dog. Best decision ever and the dogs come back loving and very well trained. Better than Petsmart if you ask me….

  2. Great story, It seenms as if everyone turns out a winner,

  3. My Peke-A-Poo was trained by the Colorado Correctional Industries’ Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program two years ago! We took her to Canon City because we needed help with basic training. We had tried other trainers (I highly DON’T recommend Bark Busters!) but nothing worked. The trainers in the K-9 Companion Program did a fabulous job and she is now a Therapy Dog!

  4. Even those among us who do not have significant needs as Zach does know that our fuzzy family members can improve our day with a great big doggie smile and kiss when we get home from a rough day at work. Thank you Mr. Vogt for finding a way to make a positive contribution.

  5. here is a current program in Monroe where they pair abused dogs with incarcerated juveniles and the pairing is life changing for both!

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