RPSM.Org: What it Means to Me – A Series

I was introduced to RPSM.org five years ago when my family adopted Barkley LeRoy and Penelope Louise, “Penny.” My experience was chronicled in my blog post, Writing Their Stories, on March 23, 2016.

The Blogging Owl has been granted permission from Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan to promote their new series, “What it Means to Me.” 

Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan

Founded in 2007, RPSM has made a serious effort to effectively aid in the reduction of euthanasia rates at many animal shelters. In 2008, the RPSM Correctional Companion Program began. In a partnership with the Coldwater Prison Complex, RPSM endeavors to find homes for dogs in shelters that would otherwise be euthanized. Dogs selected for the Companion Program are carefully screened for temperament, trainability, and adaptability. They are fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered prior to enrollment in the program. Once they arrive at the complex, they are assigned to specially trained inmates who are responsible for their training and day to day care. Upon completion of the program, the dogs are ready to receive a canine good citizen certificate (CGC) and available for adoption in an approved home.

RPSM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We are 100% donation driven. Any donations to RPSM are always 100% tax deductible. A weekly or monthly donation to RPSM provides a consistent & dependable income to fund our ongoing efforts. Non-monetary items such as flea and tick preventative, heart worm preventative, dog shampoo, fund raiser items, and more are always welcomed.



This is the first post in series of reflections from the inmate trainers in their own words on what it meant to them to train a dog rescued by Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan.

A Rescue named Herman

To me, RPSM means a group of people who care for the health and fate of animals. It means people who make a difference. It means protection, care, foster, placement, and new additions to and for families.

The rescue dogs have made a profound impact on my life and I see the impact they make on others, even if only for the moments they spend petting a dog. The smiles and the looks that seem to turn on a light behind the eyes these dogs come in contact with. The calming effect was priceless. Despite all they have gone through, they can still show tender attachment of affection displaying the warm and fuzzy opposed to the cold and prickly.

Hands down, the best success story of a dog would be a dog I came to know and love named Herman. Herman went through more than any dog in several lifetimes. He was used for fighting. He came here with many bite marks and scars. His mouth was badly infected and he had to have plastic surgery. When RPSM brought him to me it was plain to see that none of this took away the joy this dog possessed and his demeanor was that of a dog who had forgiven cruelty that he had been subjected to.

Training Herman was fun because he loved learning new things and people. He had a certain type of magnetism about him. He had a fan base around here. People just wanted to pet this big guy. Before Herman left us, he knew his commands, plus doing, some by reading words from cards and in addition he also did some commands from them being spelled to him. Herman is a very smart dog. I could write a book on this guy, however, I will keep it short. Herman would come up to me and laid his big head on my lap and then try to crawl in my bed. I couldn’t allow him on the bed so after play time I would go to his sleeping area and take naps with him as he would nestle close to me. We had a good bond being a part of the same pack.

A tragedy occurred in my family, the loss of my daughter. Herman was there for me in ways that I can’t describe on paper. I was able to talk to him and he was a very good listener without judgement or criticism. In a grief stricken state he even licked a tear or two from my face as if to say, “It’s going to be okay, I’m here for you.” His show of affection brought a much needed smile to my tear stained face. Without his knowing he helped me through a very rough patch in my life. I can honestly say that he taught me more than I ever taught him. We were therapeutic for one another.

It is my wish that he is receiving the love that I know he gives. I know where ever he is at he’s being his fun loving self-bringing about smiles and laughter to those who lend attention to this amazing dog with so much life. Knowing he has removed some rough edges within me.

Herman, I wish you well old friend 🙂

Written by Herman’s Trainer

Ways Readers Can Help

The Prison Companion Program has given a second chance to over 500 dogs that would have otherwise be euthanized. We need your help to continue fulfilling our mission of saving these dogs that deserve a second chance! RPSM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization running solely on donations. Any donations to RPSM are deductible on your federal tax return. A weekly or monthly donation to RPSM provides a consistent & dependable income to fund our ongoing efforts of saving animals.

Please visit Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan’s website at www.rpsm.org for more ways you can donate and become involved in giving hope not only to the pets RPSM rescues but to all the lives these wonderful pets touch.

Penny and Barkley

Penny and Barkley wish to thank Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan and their trainers at the Coldwater Correctional Facility. Penny and Barkley were adopted together on May 5, 2012.


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