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June 29, 2019


by Chad

Dear CMC NLK9’s,

Congratulations on your recent graduations. I am one of eighteen Dog Handlers participating in the NLK9’s Pleasant Valley State Prison, “D” Facility program. We have nine dogs now, three golden retrievers: Nelson, Carson, and Zach (11 months). Three yellow labs: Delta, Koa, and Nala (7 months). And three new labradoodles: Parker, Jimmy, and Rowan (9 weeks). We are all doing the best that we can and have high hopes for the future of these dogs and for this program. I even have high hopes for myself now, for I am definitely not the middle-aged, grumpy old man that I was 7 months ago. I am so honored and very blessed to be a part of this life changing/saving program and Nelson’s primary handler. We don’t have a newsletter yet, but we are working on it. I wrote the following poem to express my feelings towards my best friend Nelson.

Chad Thomas


Love comes back to surface
From a long cold winters freeze.
Grips my soul, turns me inside out
To who I used to be.

A friendship unconditional
And a bond that has no kyrptonite.
This creature invading my darkness,
A much needed life saving light.

Today is Friday the 8th. We had our gym time, 9am, worked on “freeze.” Nelson, Delta, and Zach all did well. Ernesto and I also did some confidence exercises with Nelson. Zach is growling over now at Nelson. Between him and Carson it does make community teaching time more challenging. Nelson is doing great on we-leash, and food sharing while walking. He’s keeping our pace and paying more attention to me as I talk to him on the walks. I wouldn’t mind having him 24/7, he’s that good of a dog and companion. I was telling my family how he’s already acting as my service dog. He knows when I am down and gets me out of it. Before this program, I thought about every day how I didn’t want to live my life, as I was, without being accountable or having any purpose. I would have really dark thoughts in my cell. There’s no doubt that the human-canine bond has definitely saved my life, made me accountable, and given me purpose.

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