His Shoes, His Story:    by    Rory Andes
A work of fiction based on someone’s truth (3 of 3)

In 2016, I applied for, and was accepted into, the coveted Assistance Dogs training program. This is a voluntary, inmate based service dog training program supported by outside sponsors and donors. Its mission is to provide service animals for people with mobility disabilities. Out of the roughly 800 inmates that can and do apply for this program, I was selected to be among the twenty participants because of my honest application, my recognized potential, and historically improved record. The screening process ensures that I’m the right fit for a team environment with a vulnerable animal. I live with both the dog and my co-handler, creating this extensive teamwork. I learn in class settings and implement those instructions to teaching the animal. It requires me to remain major infraction free, communicate effectively with both the animal and my team members, and do my part in giving time, energy, and selfless service to the success of the program. The rewards of this are immeasurable to me, because I know how lives are improved through this work. It’s become a focal point for my individual rehabilitation.

I found it important to get into the program because I connected to the willingness of the animal to learn. I also found the therapeutic component of contributing to something greater than myself. The progress that the dogs make are a reflection of the progress I’ve made in my own life. They become useful through discipline and kindness and this is something I’ve worked hard on for myself. Much like the dogs, I will also be greater to society when the day comes for me to leave. I am proud of my work with training and I’m proud of who I’ve become because of it.

Since I’ve been in prison, my family has suffered loss. My father passed away in 2009 and my mother is aging faster than I could imagine. I realize John never had the chance to age, a chance denied by me. I often wonder if I even deserve the chance to make a wish about a life beyond prison, but if one wish could be granted, I would want my mother to pass with me by her side. I hope to go back to Canada to be closer to family and pay for what I did in 1994, when I was an unmanaged angry person who ran from my problems. I simply need the chance and opportunity to make it right with them, too. I hope to be worthy of that chance and be found of quality enough for my community when I return…

by Rory Andes

Every prisoner has their truths. Learn them with compassion…

Email at Jpay.com using Rory Andes 367649

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Rory Andes 367649
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272