New Way of Life Indiana goes to the (Service) Dog!

New Way of Life Indiana Halfway House has a new employee and his name is Harris.  Harris is a 10 year old lab that is the owner of human Doug Russell, a Monitor at NWOLI.  Harris started out his career being raised as a service dog by United Disability Services in Lancaster PA. Sadly, Harris had to be taken out of the program due to having hip dysplasia but he was still able to be certified as a service dog, he is just limited to the populations he can serve.  Doug is a retired Corrections Officer from SCI-Pine Grove and he adopted Harris.  While employed with the Department of Corrections, Doug partnered with United Disability Services to start a program for service dog training with the inmates. The inmates raised dogs from 8 months until they were 1 1/2 years old, at which time they would return to United Disability Services to be placed with wounded veterans or those with disabilities in the Commonwealth.

NWOLI staff and clients have wanted to have a dog in the facility for a long time.  One of questions frequently asked by clients is, “Why don’t we have a house dog?”.  Doug had mentioned to Clinical Supervisor Caitlyn Ryan that his dog was a certified service dog and now the rest is history.

Harris has been a a bright and sunny addition to the facility.  Residents can’t wait to get up in the morning to see and pet him and the staff enjoys entering the facility to his enthusiastic greetings.  Another plus:  Harris has proven to be a great source of stress relief for clients and staff.  And that’s nothing to growl at.