Beating the Odds

April 9, 2013  

Jagger the pit bull visits a maximum security juvenile facility to help teach lessons about overcoming hardship

By Jennifer

Maximum Security Juvenile Facility. Those are some words to get your thoughts spinning. Some people may have been taken aback by them, but when Joy with Healing Species of Texas asked Jagger and I to visit the facility with them for one of their character education lessons, I instantly agreed! What an opportunity!

With my work schedule, it took some time and planning, but Jagger and I were able to take the time to visit the facility with Joy and some of the Healing Species team to deliver a lesson on beating the odds. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when the day started. I was instructed to leave everything but Jagger and his leash in the car. We checked in, having already been pre-approved to visit through a background check that I was required to pass.

We were to talk to two units that day. Through a series of locked doors, we entered the first unit with our escorts. The doors were locked behind us. The young men, all in jumpsuits, were asked if any of them were afraid of Jagger. When it was clear that none of them were, I let Jagger off of his leash and he started working the room, doing what he does best, providing calm and comfort and getting love in return. These young men were so excited to see and interact with Jagger. As he walked the room, I shared his story and talked about his scars, both physical and emotional.

This was a little different for me. I am so used to sharing Jagger’s story of learning to be a dog again, about everything that has happened since he was confiscated. To focus on what had happened to him prior to his confiscation was a little difficult, but I knew it would be invaluable to the lesson and to reaching out to this group. Once I finished sharing Jagger’s story, the Healing Species lesson on beating the odds ensued. The group discussed famous people that have overcome hardships and how Jagger triumphed through hardships too.

When the lesson finished, we had a short break, but Jagger, true to his usual self, would have none of this break. He lured the adults walking in the hallway with his big brown eyes and wagging tail. They came up to meet him and hear his story too. We entered the second unit and repeated the routine. This time though, I watched the young men as they interacted with Jagger. They had clearly experienced a lot in their short lives. Many of them had tattoos and scars. Some of the teachers had told me that some of the boys had talked previously about fighting dogs. You cannot help but wonder what brought them to this point in their young lives, as they are just teenagers. I found that although I wondered briefly about their past, I focused more on hope for their future. What an amazing journey all of this with Jagger would be if it helped even just one of these boys to want to change, to want a better future, to succeed and be happy.

Since Jagger lives by the “nothing in life is free” method at home, I would give him a simple nonverbal “sit” or “down” command in order for him to get an ear or back scratch from me, and then he would go on and work the room some more. I noticed some of the young men began mimicking my commands when Jagger would come up to them. I also noticed some of them leaning over and talking to Jagger when he would come up to them. But perhaps the most inspiring moment was when I tried to read their lips as to what they were saying to Jagger. Some of the boys were apologizing to Jagger. And where there is compassion, there is hope for a better future; there is hope for these young men.

As we were about to leave, Jagger made his way to the back corner of the room where one of the young men had been asked to leave because of some of his actions from when we had first entered the room. He had his head down and his eyes closed. Jagger made his way right up to him and kissed him on the forehead. Although the young man was at first startled, he smiled and petted Jagger, seemingly pleased that he had not been entirely left out and had a moment to pet the dog that had come to visit his unit.

Jagger had a love hangover and slept the entire way home and most of the afternoon too. I haven’t been able to stop talking about the experience and how fortunate I feel to have been a part of it. Jagger has opened not only my eyes but so many others’ as well. My heart is full with the warmth of Jagger’s love and the opportunities he has provided for us to share compassion and hope with so many others. We look forward to the next opportunity!

This article was originally published on October 30, 2012.

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13 Responses to “Beating the Odds
  1. jennmartinelli says:

    What a great story and what an amazing opportunity for you and Jagger! He sounds like he really knows how to help everyone he runs into. What a good boy.

  2. tiffany_hutton says:

    I can’t help but love this story! I also love how you’re changing the view on pitbulls. That’s one of my goals as well. I’m learning from you so keep it up!

  3. ShariR says:

    These stories always make me cry (mostly tears of love and joy) but my heart stopped when you said some of the boys apologized to Jagger.  I have followed Jagger on FB for awhile now and I know how hard you have worked to make him part of your family.  You gave him a second chance in life and I am so grateful for the work you and Jagger do for the pit bull community.  As a fellow Houstonian, I am very proud of you, Jagger and Treat ’em Right Rescue.

    • StubbyDog says:

      @ShariR We, at StubbyDog, are incredibly proud of Jagger and Jennifer. This is the third story we have run about Jagger and his progress is amazing. We are proud to have him on our Superhero Squad and know that the sky’s the limit with Jagger!

    • Jagger says:

      Thank you Shari and Stubbydog! You make us blush! We are so happy to do the things we do, it just makes it all the sweeter that others get something out of it too!

  4. WOW is all I can say. My heart skipped a beat reading this as the chills run through my body and tears falling. Jagger you are the absolute best!!! Not leaving out the young man in the back is what being an ambassador is he!

    • StubbyDog says:

      @theprettychic We agree Kelli, Jagger is a great ambassador and teaches lessons all of us can learn from.

    • Jagger says:

      theprettychic – My heart skipped a beat too when Jagger walked to the back of that room to make sure everyone was somehow included. He amazes me everyday, but somedays, he leaves me speechless with wonder!

  5. ReneeMKeller says:

    Wow what a great story.  Jagger is one wonderful pup.  I think programs like the one you are involved in are amazing!!!  Thank you for sharing Jagger with us all!!!

  6. Cathy says:

    Jagger, you are doing what most PEOPLE can never do! You have been in horrible places just as these young people have! I know you will do GREAT things and help so many! If you just help one person you have done a great thing!!!! You Rock!!!!!


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