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April, 2019

Friendship of a Lifetime

by Sergio

We’ve all heard stories or watched movies about dogs and humans having a friendship of a lifetime. These stories seem far-fetched for someone in prison, some would say even impossible. Unless it was with a wild bird caught on the yard or some crazy gopher snatched out of a hole.

Then I came to CTF. One road led me to another, and I ended up being part of the New Life K9s program. After a month of working with all the amazing dogs and very helpful teammates, I was assigned to Team Jett as a secondary handler. Jett was already a nine month old dog when I came into his life. Not the puppy I thought I would get, but boy did Jett give me much more than I expected. He broke me down. He shattered that person I thought I was, and then he helped me find who I truly was.

But to understand why that happened, let me tell you a little bit about who Jett is. He’s a happy, silly, smart, curious, and always eager-to-help dog. Sometimes, he can be a bit sensitive. Though many see that as his biggest weakness, I see it as his biggest strength.

You can see his emotions in his burnt Sienna colored eyes. You can read how he feels through his face. Whether he’s sad, happy, scared, or just mad, his sensitivity makes you connect with him. It’s what makes you want to love him.

Every time he sees you after a brief separation he doesn’t only wag his tail, but his whole body in happiness of seeing you once again. And for those who known him, well you know he’ll always find a toy to show off. Now, I know every handler sees the best in their dog, but Jett really does stand out. His personality draws you in. It disarms you. That’s why I had to let go of who I thought I was, and get in touch with my true self buried deep down inside.

A year has passed since I was assigned to Jett, and I’ve had many memories and precious moments. Not a moment goes by that I regret signing up for New Life K9s, and because of it I have grown to care for another life other than mine. It has made my family proud to see me finally doing something right. Of course the journey has come with many bumps on the road. But overall my life has improved thanks to Team Jett and New Life K9s.

Jett will be graduating soon. I’m happy and sad at the same time. My partner and I are excited he will go out to fulfill and enrich someone’s life. We know that he will do the same for his veteran that he did for us. He will leave behind many broken hearts, among them his puppy parent, Amber. She has been a major part of his life. When Jett was in danger of failing, she didn’t think twice. He feared many things on the outside, but his Mama being fearless and strong became his steadfast rock, week after week, and month after month. She took him home everyday until his fear turned into dust. Without a doubt, she is the reason he will be going on to save someone’s life.

We all knew this day would come. We have reached our goal, and now Jett will go on and fulfill his purpose in life. Though it will hurt to say goodbye, I am honored that I played a small part in the life of a start. This might not be a story worth making a film about, but it’s my story and that of the amazing people who took part in Jett’s life. A story I will remember for a very long time. No one will ever replace our Jett.

Where our story ends another one starts. On January 17, 2019 an adorable snowy white puppy resembling an arctic fox arrive in the arms of Courtney Threw, one of our respected and admired NLK9s staff members. This nine week old puppy was named Ned, after a U.S. veteran. I was given the honor to be his new dad and primary handler by Nicole Hern, our boss and mentor. A new chapter to turn too and experiences to have. Already Ned’s playful and lazy personality has a place in my heart. I’m sure I’ll be looking back in no time reflecting on how Ned also impacted my life.

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