My kids call my dad “Hunt”, who one friend dubbed “the deer-hunting-est man there ever was”. Rest assured, truer words were never spoken. As a little girl, I’d climb into his truck tagging along as he and my brother made the hour trek to Four Hole Swamp. I’d spend the day in Holly Hill with my Grandmama Opal waiting for the boys to come out of the woods. Without fail, a part of that day would include me dancing around her cement block house to an old Dolly Parton-Porter Wagner 8 track. That’s where my love of Dolly began.
My Dolly-love grew stronger in childhood as Truvy Jones graced my TV screen for years. I nearly wore out my Steel Magnolias VHS watching it, honestly, hundreds of times–this movie was the backbone of my childhood, quoting it became a second language for my friends and me, and I could have sworn my Shelby diabetic seizure impression would land me in Hollywood in no time.
Two months shy of graduating Clemson I considered following in Truvy’s footsteps when I researched switching to cosmetology school. (Let’s just say it was no Aveda Institute and free life lesson: their version of an open house is not an information meeting- more like North Charleston nails and highlights for under a dollar…..my mom may have been scarred for life. Go Tigers!)
I’m a big fan of what I call “the buffer dog”-where there’s a younger dog already in the fam to soften the blow of losing an older one.
The beloved Colonel is now 9. We’ve been considering finding the best buffer dog but we weren’t sure we were really ready. Last week, Dave gave the greenlight and the search was on. We thought it may take about a year, but let’s be honest. I got a little Petfinder manic.
Monday we saw this sweet face…
We learned that she was a part the New Leash on Life program at a local correctional facility. They match rescue dogs with inmates. The inmates take ownership of training the dogs and everybody wins! The dogs receive awesome training and the inmates learn employable skills for when they get out.
Yesterday all 7 Kulps plus the Colonel met “Angel” along with her trainer Mike. He was such a smart guy who introduced us to her and shared his training methods.
Today we returned for a graduation ceremony for all of the dogs where we also shared a lunch afterward with the trainers, the sponsors, and the adoptive families. Mike gifted us with a journal he made detailing time her with him in prison.
We’ve changed her to Dolly- a southern girl with humble roots and big blonde hair. She’s a little skittish as to be expected these first few days of transition. So far so good, but she’s on leash a lot of the time, even indoors, to build attachment. Ahhh, attachment, we meet again.
This truly was a redemptive experience. Mike was very open about why he’s in prison and what he hopes to do afterward. He’s currently taking college classes online and wants to keep in touch. All of the men we met were so respectful, well spoken and genuinely proud of their accomplishments. Each said this program gives the trainers purpose and improves their quality of life- They are proud to be contributing to society in a positive way even while serving time.
I cannot say enough about this incredible this program! We worked with Fur Babies and they were amazing! Daryl, the owner, herself has adopted 12 children (11 from Liberia, 1 she met through Alexander Youth Network) and we’re getting coffee next week to discuss how my bigs can volunteer with a new dog program she is starting there.
If you are looking to rescue a dog, please consider the New Leash on Life program. Many gospel conversations ensued with our kids about human dignity, respect, life choices and justice, mercy, and grace.