Even in such dark places as a prison, there is a place for something extraordinary and even cute. In the open prison in Jiřice, selected prisoners were given two puppies, a flat coated (short-haired) retriever and a long-haired female German Shepherd, for upbringing. The dogs are intended for special training, because they will be helping the blind later.
The project Tlapky v dlani ("Paws in the Palm") started last year, when two golden retrievers - Goro and Shady - were handed over to the institution. Goro was taken by his breeders to a new caring family, he will begin to undergo eight months of training for a guide dog.
Unfortunately, Shady will not become a guide dog after all due to health problems with his front leg. Although his handicap is operable, he can no longer undergo further training. However, thanks to this, his owner, the convicted Jaroslav Hluchý, decided to ask for the dog to be entrusted in his care.
The breeders decided to leave the dog to him for 5,000 crowns, which he was willing to pay from the money earned in prison work. Seeing as his behavior in prison is exemplary and it happened to be his birthday a few days ago, the amount was covered as a gift by the Prison Clergy Care.
"Of course I'm happy to have Shady, but I'm sorry he can't serve as a guide dog. We got him for that purpose, and it's a pity he can't do it because of his leg,"
Shady will live with the convict in prison for the duration of his sentence for fraud, which should last until 2025. However, the man asked for parole. If approved, he and his dog will be released already in May. According to the local educator, the convict has all the prerequisites for parole release.
Training puppies isn‘t easy, though. The head of the School for the training of guide dogs, Milan Dvořák, confirmed that the most important thing is that the trainer loves animals. Then all you need to do is to take advice from more experienced people on how to treat the dog.
The prisoners are carefully selected, they must be mentally and physically healthy individuals with very good behavior. During the execution of the sentence, under the supervision of an expert - coordinator, they teach the dog basic habits, socialize him, teach him obedience, make sure his basic needs are met, and most importantly allow him to experience a close relationship with a human being.
The moment they have to return the puppy so that he can continue with special training, they also gain a very personal experience with the loss of something or rather someone very important. As a result, the can realize the extent of the loss they may have caused in other people's lives.
"There can be a number of positive aspects to the training of assistance dogs by prisoners. Caring for a dog can evoke feelings of responsibility, positive emotions associated with a relationship with a living creature, and consequently a reduction in aggressive behavior. It also contributes to improving relations between prisoners and prison institutions with disadvantaged communities, which, like them, may find themselves on the margins of society. This can lead to a better resocialization of prisoners and a reduction in recidivism even after release," said psychologist Monika Kolářová to LP-life.cz, noting that not much research has been conducted on this topic so far, so these are rather assumptions.