Tagged: dog program

Thanksgiving In The Joint (part 2)

 

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After reading an email from my sweet wife about what she is thankful for, I realized that my previous Thanksgiving post was incomplete. I failed to mention the things that I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for having such a wonderful family. Starting with my wife. She is so incredibly kind and loving. Her dedication & loyalty is absolutely impeccable. I am so blessed to have her. Thank you, Suzie!

I’m thankful for my amazing mother and all of her love & support. Thanks, mom! I love you.

I’m thankful for my sisters, and my nieces & nephew. I’m especially thankful for my brother-in-laws and how they treat my sisters and their kids.

Wow! There’s so much to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my Friends.
I’m thankful for my readers and followers.
I’m thankful for being in The Dog Program.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to blog.
I’m thankful to be alive and to have a release date.
I’m thankful for my Marriage.
I’m thankful for clothes to wear and food to eat.
I’m thankful for JPay.
I’m thankful for football season.
I’m thankful for Influential Books to read.
I’m thankful for my health.
I’m thankful for Stone City Blog.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to take NA classes to earn back good time.
I’m thankful for all my blessings and for all the people who love & support me.

Thank you.

 

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Steven Jennings

 

Thanksgiving In The Joint (part 1)

Adopting A Dog

 

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Adopting a dog will change your life. I know because it has changed mine. I don’t actually adopt, I just work with dogs and get them ready for adoption. In doing so, I reap tremendous life changing benefits.

I’m in a program called Freedom Tails. For 10 weeks I live with a dog 24/7. During that time I give my four-legged friend basic obedience training, house training, boundaries, socialization skills, structure, and grooming. These dogs go from “undesired” shelter or rescue dogs to “highly desirable” well mannered and well trained dogs.

I’ve been in prison for 22 years. In just a few weeks, Freedom Tails has enabled me to develope valuable life skills. The dogs teach me how to be responsible, patient, consistent, and punctual.

If you don’t have a dog in your life, you’re not living life to the fullest.

For those who have disabilities (mental or physical), a dog can be a life changing experience. Dogs can offer hope, love, and joy to those who struggle to find it anywhere else. Dogs can help build confidence, a sense of purpose, and self-esteem to those who struggle in these areas.

ADOPT A DOG. This simple act has the ability to work miracles.

For more info on the dog program & dog adoption, please visit:

HAVA
Orvis Magazine
Between The Lines
Freedom Tails
Brigadoon Service Dogs
SCCC Freedom Tail Program
PAWS

 

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Steven Jennings

 

Rolo


rollo2

 

I’ve been putting in some serious hours training my dog, Rolo. And it’s definitely paying off. I train him in increments based on his focus level, stubbornness, and body language. Even “superdogs” like Rolo get burnt out and need a break.

That’s when I say, “Let’s go play!” I let him play for a few minutes, with the racquetball, or just running around. Then it’s back to training. Every activity we do offers an opportunity to train. Rolo knows how to: Heel, Sit, Down, Stay, and get his leash. I’m learning so much in this program.

Until next time, love your dog.

 

rolo kiss

 

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Steven Jennings

April 2016 Newsletter

 

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FAMILY FUN NIGHT:
April 15th
Activity: Spring Craft

EDUCATION:
Sign up now for: Hepatitis Education Class
May 19th, 9-11am

DOG PROGRAM:
Freedom Tails hosted a graduation for all their dogs in the visiting room on March 31st. Yahoo and I graduated! 🙂

Stafford Creek also has another dog program called: BRIGADOON SERVICE DOG PROGRAM. Brigadoon is a nonprofit agency that provides specifically trained dogs to people with disabilities. For more, contact the H5 CUS.

VISITING:
The Significant Woman’s Event is approaching quickly. This event is all about honoring the special woman in my life who has provided on-going support, sacrifice, and encouragement. I’ve invited my loving wife. The activities are designed to assist in fostering the growth & strengthening of our beautiful relationship. We are seeking funds to help us be together for this special event. To make a donation, click HERE. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

CALL TO ACTION:

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Please show your support by purchasing my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary.

OTHER:
I just read a cool book written by a man I just met in here. It’s called, “Convict’s Creations Cookbook.” I asked Marco, one of the authors, to say a few words about the book. Click HERE to read his commentary and to read a sample from the book.

 

QUOTE OF THE MONTH:

“Keep your words sweet. You may have to eat them one day.”

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BLOGS & SOCIAL MEDIA:

Real Love Letters – Suzie & I have decided to share our journey from the very beginning. We will be posting our personal letters to show the world how we met and fell in love. A lot of people wonder how a good wholesome Mormon girl could fall in love and marry a man in prison serving a 43 year sentence. This blog will answer many questions as Suzie and I share our transparent back & forth dialogue.

Stone City Blog – A collection of blogs written by men in prison. If you have a loved one in prison, give them the gift of blogging. Our services are free. (For more information, please read: Submitting Blogs)

Suzie M. Jennings – What’s it like to be the wife of an inmate? Follow Suzie’s blog about love, life, & success. Everyone is on a journey…all are the same, yet all are different.

Steven D. Jennings – I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars! I share my journey towards rehabilitation & redemption. Please follow my blog as I share my experiences with you.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

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Steven Jennings

Q & A

How I Was Affected By Occupational Deprivation

 

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“I think it would be helpful for the audience to understand how you personally were affected by Occupational Deprivation.” ~Sandra Rogers

That single sentence stood out to me and is where the title of this post came from. First, I had to understand the meaning of Occupational Deprivation (OD). As far as I can tell, it means: The lack of meaningful activities. Hmmm…all of my activities have had some type of meaning behind them.

I hustled, gambled, sold drugs and tobacco.
The Meaning: to make money.

I got in fights.
The Meaning: to earn respect and to release pent up frustrations and aggression.

In a Penitentiary, or a Correctional Center, these truly are meaningful activities. If I want to spend the rest of my life locked up and miserable! Early on in my incarceration I knew I had to change. I wanted to change! (For an in-depth look, please read my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary)

The cure to Occupational Deprivation is Meaningful Activities. But for years, I was denied. I asked numerous DOC employees for help. The answer was always the same, “No. Those programs are for short timers…you have too much time.”

My misconduct would continue and I’d end up in the hole. Again! I shed many tears in The Hole. Because that’s when & where reality really hit! Prison. 43 years. The pain I’ve caused others. Isolation. Being a failure. A loser. The list goes on…

One time when I was in the hole they cuffed me and escorted me to the recreation enclosure. On the way there I saw a flier advertising Anger Management and Victim Awareness. These classes were available in the hole. Two classes I desperately needed. So I submitted a kite requesting them.

To my surprise, they denied me. The reason: I wasn’t doing enough time in the hole.

That pissed me off! While in population I’m denied for having too much time. And in the hole I’m denied for not having enough time. But if I seriously hurt someone and get, let’s say,12 months in the hole, then I’ll get the classes and my long prison sentence is no longer a factor.

It’s logic like this that’s so discouraging.

Lucky for me, I have a strong will and a burning desire for redemption (see: Redemption, It’s My Choice). Despite set back after set back, I continued to seek understanding as I took moral inventory of myself. As I write this and reflect back, I now see that I had the desire to get better, but I severely lacked in the “meaningful activity” department. Therefore, I struggled.

Occupational Deprivation was my program! And I suffered greatly because of it.

Today, my life is full of “meaningful activities.” And as a result, I’ve never been happier or more productive.

 

I go to NA Meetings, which I gain so much wisdom & knowledge from.

I’m in The Dog Program and I have the privilege of loving a dog named, Yahoo.

I graduated from my Redemption and Roots of Success classes because I wasn’t told, “No. You have too much time.”

I’ve started reading Influential Books, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I mentor those who are ready to hear positive messages. I lead by example so my words have greater impact.

I’m the nations leading blogger from behind bars.

I have meaningful relationships with the people I call Friends.

I have a job passing out commissary to thousands of guys.

I prepare healthy meals for myself and I workout regularly.

The list of “meaningful activities” goes on and on….and my most treasured one is my marriage. I have the most caring, loving wife any man could ever hope to have. Suzie has blessed my life beyond what I thought possible. The love I feel for her in my heart is stronger than any other feeling I’ve ever known.

 

All these “meaningful activities” have completely wiped out OD. Perhaps I should’ve titled this post, “How I Am Affected By Meaningful Activities.” Because this is where the beauty is. This is where true transformation is realized.

Its great to learn new terms and articulate my journey under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy. But the truth is: If someone wants change, they must want it for themselves, then relentlessly pursue it everyday for the rest of their lives.

It is now, after I am well on my way, that I make the connection between “meaningful activities” and rehabilitation. It would’ve been nice to learn all this years before I did. Better late than never.

 

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Steven Jennings

A Typical Day With My Dog, Yahoo

 

Yahoo week 5

 

Having a dog is so awesome.
Having a dog in prison…priceless!

I’ve never had a celly jump up with excitement the second I walk in the door. And on the flip side, I’ve never been excited to return to my cell. I am extremely thankful and appreciative for this magnificent animal, and it is my honor to share a cell with him.

Here is a typical day with the best celly I’ve ever had:

I wake up around 7am and open his crate. He comes bursting out, tail a wagging.

I massage his face, neck, and ears as I kiss his nose, and say in a soft loving voice, “Good morning buddy. I love you…yes I do….yes I do….awww…..does that feel good…. huh…..does that feel good (kiss kiss) I love you…” This goes on for a minute or two, or three….okay, maybe four or five.

After our brief good morning hellos, I say, “Yahoo, sit.” He sits and watches me with hungry eyes as I measure out three quarters of a cup of premium dry dog food. He watches me pour it in his bowl.

I back away and say, “Yahoo, wait.” He patiently waits as he literally drools on the floor.

Then I say, “Yahoo, eat.” And he digs in.

As he eats, I go brush my grill, fix the Euro-Hawk, and drain the lizzard.

Then I take Yahoo out for his morning duties. He’s like clock work. He’s potty trained very well and will even go on command. All I gotta say is, “Yahoo, Break!” He’ll then look for the perfect blade of grass, lift his leg, and give the insects a golden shower.

Throughout the day, 90% of my interaction with Yahoo is an opportunity to train. He heels by my side on the leash. He stops and sits at every doorway. He lays down. He stays. He comes. He goes in his crate. All of this is on command.

I’ll drop food on the floor and say, “leave it!” He leaves it.

In five minutes I taught him how to jump straight up. First I get him all excited. Then I say, “Yahoo, jump!” And he does it.

At 4:30pm my celly, Dicky, feeds him again. Same amount, same method. Yahoo is fat, so he’s on a diet.

In the evenings I do a little jogging with Yahoo. As we run, he stays by my side, doesn’t get in the way, and keeps pace with a variety of speeds.

At the end of the day I lay on the floor with him as I pet and talk to him. Then he goes into his crate, and I crawl up on my bunk.

Yahoo would be an awesome dog for someone who is always home. All he wants to do is relax with humans, eat, and sleep. He doesn’t like to leave the cell and he doesn’t like other animals. Yahoo needs a quiet home with a relaxed, low energy owner. For that person, Yahoo would make the perfect companion.

For information on how to adopt Yahoo & other dogs, go to: HAVA

Or contact Christine Balcom at: beesnblossoms@live.com

 

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Steven Jennings

 

PS – Look! I got Yahoo to smile for the camera. 🙂

February & March Newsletter 2016

 

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Hello everyone! How’s life in the free world? Enjoy it! Life is too short not to.

Here’s whats going on in here:

Two Year Wedding Anniversary:
Suzie and I celebrated our two year anniversary on February 27th. We tried the ol GoFundMe route in hopes we could raise enough for a weekend visit. Thank you for the donations… however, we came up short. But the good news is we used the funds for phone time. Phone time is huge for us. Thank you! I absolutely LOVE hearing my wife’s sweet voice.

Phone Time:
Starting March 17th, all phone calls will drop down to 11 cents per minute. And we’ll be charged by the minute. No more losing $3.20 because of a bogus “3-way calling alert” 4 minutes into a call! Now its minute for minute. Gotta love that. (I Will Blog For Phone Time)

JP5 Mini Tablet:
I recently received my new JP5. It’s an Android touchscreen with spell check and auto complete. No biggie to the free world, but huge for guys who’ve been locked up for 20 years or more. It also has a photo gallery for all my pics. Along with video games, calendar, calculator, and several more features I’ll never use. My main usage for it is music, photos, and blogging. And oh, emailing my baby!

I got a $20 credit on my media account for turning in my JP4 when I upgraded to the JP5. With that credit I bought some music. I love listening to music! I’m practicing my dance moves for when Suzie and I get our EFV’s. I’m gonna give that woman the time of her life…GUARANTEED! All my moves are specifically designed for her viewing and physical pleasure. And for those of you who want to know, you got it! An ebook will follow each and every EFV, co-authored by us both.

Black History Event:
On March 3rd there will be a special event held in the visiting room. This event will feature a guest speaker named Gilda Sheppard. Gilda Sheppard, Ph. D. is a member of the Evergreen State College in Tacoma. She is also an award winning filmmaker. After her speech…its time to eat. Menu: Salad, Fried Chicken, Rice & Beans, Collard Greens, Cake, and Juice.

Resource Fair:
This is a fair that’s sponsored by The Redemption Project. It’s for guys that are within 12 months of release and are seeking valuable resources that will hopefully aid in their success. The following organizations will have representatives at this Resource Fair:

Affordable Care Act
Alcoholics Anonymous
Bank of America
Children’s Advocacy Center of Grays Harbor
Community Corrections
DOC Housing Voucher
Department of Licensing
DSHS – Division of Child Support
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
DSHS – Financial
Grays Harbor Community College
Employment Security Department
Exodus Project
Express Employment Professionals
Family Service Unit – DOC HQ
Flagging Program
Narcotics Anonymous
Northwest Justice Project
Oxford House
Pioneer Human Services
Salvation Army
Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe
Social Security Admin
STOP Program (DV)
Veterans Administration
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Natives with disabilities
Westport Shipyard
Work Source Grays Harbor

I don’t know about you, but I find this to be pretty impressive. I wish I could attend. Its never too early to prepare for life after prison. I share this with you to show how much opportunity there is in prison. So now you can call BS when your inmate runs drag about how prison is just a warehouse and rehabilitation doesn’t exist. IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT TO BE!!!

Freedom Tails:
This is the Dog Program here at Stafford Creek. Since the program’s inception back in 2009, almost 300 undesirable dogs have been rescued from shelters, rehabilitated by inmates, and have found permanent “forever homes”. I am a part of this program and I absolute love it!

The program allows us to live with our assigned dog 24-7, for 10 weeks. We use that time to teach the dogs basic commands, social skills, and so much more. Not to mention all the things the dog teaches us. After the 10 weeks are up, these once “undesirable dogs” are now highly sought after. They’re intelligent, obedient, well mannered, and ready to bless a family with unconditional love and companionship.

For more info on the Dog Program:
HAVA
Orvis Magazine
Between The Lines
Freedom Tails
Brigadoon Service Dogs
SCCC Freedom Tail Program
Seattle Dog Spot

The Sustainability In Prison Project:
I attended a lecture on Salmon. Did you know there are 7 species of Pacific Salmon? Yep. And they lay 4000 eggs. 90 days later, 800 of them hatch. 200 make it to sea. 10 reach adulthood. And only 2 return to spawn. Moral of the story: Be nice to Salmon. Eat Sardines!

 

Monthly Quotes:

“If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

“Forgive them not because they deserve it, but because you deserve it.”

 

A Call For Action:
Please check out my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary, and help make it a success.

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Blogs & Social Media:

Real Love Letters – Suzie & I have decided to share our journey from the very beginning. We will be posting our personal letters to show the world how we met and fell in love. A lot of people wonder how a good wholesome Mormon girl could fall in love and marry a man in prison serving a 43 year sentence. This blog will answer many questions as Suzie and I share our transparent back & forth dialogue.

Stone City Blog – A collection of blogs written by men in prison. If you have a loved one in prison, give them the gift of blogging. Our services are free. (For more information, please read: Submitting Blogs)

Suzie M. Jennings – What’s it like to be the wife of an inmate? Follow Suzie’s blog about love, life, & success. Everyone is on a journey…all are the same, yet all are different.

Steven D. Jennings – I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars! I share my journey towards rehabilitation & redemption. Please follow my blog as I share my experiences with you.

Jonathan Gordon – I recently met this guy in here. He is a fellow inmate. He’s a cool dude. He’s driven and smart. He has been contributing to Stone City Blog, and he also has a blog of his own. Check it out at: http://www.jonathankeenangordon.name/jongordon/

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

Note:
Thank you to my awesome wife for giving me the gift of love. I love you and appreciate everything you do for me. You truly are an amazing woman.

Until next time, live in love and watch your blessings increase.

 

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Steven Jennings

OCD, A Hairy Dog, And A Prison Cell

 

Yahoo, yellow

 

I keep my prison cell immaculate. Everything has its place.

Cosmetics are lined up perfectly, labels out, finger width apart, from tallest to smallest.

Shoes lined up perfectly, one inch apart.

Clothes neatly hung, starting with pants, ending with shirts and a coat. Buttons and zippers facing out.

Socks, underwear, t-shirts, and towels, all folded perfectly… seems facing out. I don’t stuff one sock into the other. That stretches them out. I fold them.

Over the years my OCD created a lot of havoc between cellmates and I.

In addition to everything I just mentioned, I also like the floor to be disinfected and spotless.

These days I have a celly who could care less about my OCD and spotless floor. He’s a 9 year old black lab/collie mix. His name is Yahoo. And let me tell you, Yahoo sheds more than one thousand Ball Pythons in mid July!

He’s also an awesome cure for OCD. I love him so much that I just don’t care about all the XL sweaters and Fur Coats he leaves behind.

The first week I got him, I was cleaning my floor at least 6 times a day. I would try to drop the doggie treat in his mouth so I wouldn’t get his saliva on my hands. I was washing my hands a million times per day. I wouldn’t touch my cup or bowl after touching Yahoo, unless I washed first.

And oh, did I mention I also have a disabled human celly? His name is Dickie. He’s in a wheelchair due to Guillian syndrome. He has a ton of medical gear in here. He’s messy, sloppy, and unorganized.

IT WAS JUST TOO MUCH!!!

So I decided to use the power of MIND, and cure myself of OCD. To a degree.

I’ve had Yahoo four weeks and I now wipe my hand on my pants to get rid of his saliva before I grab my cup to take a drink of dog haired water. Everyday I’m picking or spitting dog hair outta my mouth. I lay down next to him on the floor. Then step out into the day room to brush myself off. I view it as a form of dust mopping. I get to love on Yahoo while cleaning the floor. Its a win win!

My perspective determines my attitude. Both are within my control.

In the past, I didn’t handle things appropriately. As a result, I suffered the consequences.

Today I simply do what I know to be right. As a result, the blessings speak for itself. I’M IN THE DOG PROGRAM!

 

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Steven Jennings

 

PS – Yahoo has earned his yellow bandanna. Sweet! He is progressing beautifully! Now I gotta try to get him to smile for the camera 😉

An Update On Yahoo

 

Yahoo

 

I just came in with Yahoo. We worked on “Heel” and “Sit”. Then we ran 1 mile. Can you believe I’m in better shape than Yahoo? He get’s tired and slows down. So I speed up and say, “Come on Yahoo…lets go!!!” He tries to catch up but can’t…I’m just too gosh darn fast!

Every time we go through doors, I make him “sit.” Then “wait.” Then I say, “Heel” as I go through the door first. Yahoo follows close behind, then catches up to the “Heel” position. Then we stop, and I make him sit.

It’s awesome to watch this dog progress. Because when I first got him, he didn’t even know his name, much less all the things I’m teaching him now.

He also has learned to go into his crate. On command! I no longer have to guide him in.

The only real challenge at this point is to get him to sit consistently. He doesn’t like to sit. He’s 9 years old and has lumps all throughout his body. So I think sitting is uncomfortable for him. He never sits on his own. He either lays down, or remains standing.

Like right now, he’s calm and relaxed. But he remains standing. We’ve been here at the jpay kiosk for 15 min. Most dogs would’ve taken a seat by now. I could make him sit, but he’d get up the second I take my attention away.

Every Tuesday there is a Dog Program meeting. This is to assess the dogs and monitor progress. Right now Yahoo has a red bandana around his neck. All new dogs get red. The next step is yellow. Then green.

RED means no one can pet him except handlers.

YELLOW means others can pet him and approach him.

GREEN means I can take him with me outside the unit.

I can’t wait for Yahoo to earn his Green bandana. I love watching him progess and learn. This program is every bit as awesome as I knew it would be.

Until next time, love your pets and do something kind for an animal.

 

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Steven Jennings