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Dixie - Black Labrador Retriever - Fat Girl - Dustybutt

2005 graduate of the Blue Ribbon training program

Dixie - Black Lab.     I rescued Dixie May 31st, 2005 from the Helping Hands Humane Society www.http://www.hhhstopeka.org/ when she was approximately two and a half years old and weighed eighty pounds. She was a lean, not-at-all mean graduate of the shelter's Blue Ribbon Training Program, a live-in, eight week basic obedience instruction program conducted by the residents of the Topeka Women's Correctional Facility in Topeka, Kansas. During the eight week course she'd been taught basic commands like "sit," "down," "heel" and "stay," as well as how to behave herself when walking on a leash. Dixie has a stubborn, obstinate personality and while I know she remembers most of the training she received at the women's prison, she sometimes likes to act as though she doesn't.

Dixie's graduation certificate - Blue Ribbon training course diploma.     The acquisition of Dixie, my reasoning at the time anyway, was to give Buddy a companion of his own species. I was working a lot that summer and worried that Buddy, who was still in the formative stages of his growth, wouldn't get the socialization skills necessary to allow him to interact peacefully with other dogs. Dixie seemed the perfect choice. She was older than Buddy, two and a half years to his ten months, and she was of a breed known for their calm and even temperament. Buddy was a wildchild as an adolescent and we'd had a few control issues that really weren't his fault. I was hoping Dixie could help with that, could maybe exert a sort of older/wiser maternal influence on him and bring peace to the house at last. At right is her graduation certificate from that training.

Blue Ribbon Training daily progress log.     The inmate trainers at the women's prison responsible for conducting the Blue Ribbon Training Program kept detailed notes describing Dixie's progress for the eight weeks she was in their care. The log they compiled confirmed suspicions I'd already had about Dixie, that she'd given birth to a litter of puppies in her recent past. Her breasts were still fat and swollen and one of the earliest entries in her log reminds the women prisoners to watch to make sure they're drying up. They also wrote about Dixie whining a lot when she first got there. They wrote that they thought she was sad about something and I'm guessing she probably was. The scenario that I've been able to piece together with the evidence I have is that Dixie had some puppies and at about the time she was weaning them her owner decided he didn't want her around any more and took her to the dog pound. We have no idea what happened to the puppies but Dixie landed in The Big House - end of the line for most who wind up there. She not only had her puppies taken away from her, she lost her home and that's a pretty rotten break in anyones book.

Dixie the Black Lab. In the two years she's lived here, Dixie and Buddy have developed an "on-again/off-again" relationship. At times they're the best of friends. They play together, roughhouse together, use each other for pillows when they lay in the yard. As long as I'm not in the picture, they get along great. It's only when I add myself to the overall equation that things can get a little tense. Lots of jealousy issues between these two... insecurities, etc... Buddy because this has always been his house. He's never been forced to share "his" space with another dog. Dixie because, well, because she doesn't have much choice. She's on totally unfamiliar ground, faced not only with a strange person but a strange dog as well. Her choices were limited. Retreat to a hole where she could hide, or step up to the plate and declare her intent. Dixie chose to step up to the plate and assert herself and life got awful interesting around here for a few months.

continued on page 2 >

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