Kona is an Alaskan Malamute/Husky mix that we recently adopted from Paws For Life K9 Rescue in CMF Vacaville, one of the 3 Correctional facilities located in California that offers in-prison dog training program.
Working at CMF, I have been privileged enough to be able to visit the dogs that we have in our institution. One day, I decided to take a break from being in the office and took a stroll down to the dorms to get some dog snuggles. As soon as I walked in, all the dogs were barking except for one that they had named "Safari". He was quiet, timid and seemed very shy. The trainers told me that he wasn’t really interested in play groups and preferred to be alone. I had asked if he can come out and as soon as he did, I gave him a belly rub and he fell asleep right on my lap. The next day, I went back to visit him again and that's when I knew I needed him just as much as he needed me. I was able to take him home a couple of days later and we decided to rename him Kona.
Having a toddler and two other small dogs at home, it was my number priority to keep them safe. Kona displayed a little bit of behavioral issues that were expected and understandable from a dog that was surrendered to a shelter twice. Being first time adopters, my husband and I knew very little knowledge about how to interact or handle these types of situation. However, Kona had stolen our hearts and I wanted to give him all the chances that he deserved to stay in a loving home for the rest of his life. I started looking for boarding and training programs, all of which I found, was way beyond our budget. I slowly began to lose hope, until I reached out to the director of Paws For Life, Jon Grobman. He was very helpful and kind enough to allow Kona back into the program to brush up on his trainings and address the issues that we were having.
During Kona's training, I was able to be present and spent some time watching and learning from the trainers at PFL. I learned so much from this experience and I witnessed the dedication and commitment that they pour, not only with Kona, but with all the dogs. With that, I felt the huge impact that attributed to my decision to keep Kona. I realized that one of the reason why many dogs gets surrendered or left at shelters are due to lack of training or perhaps, a concern that I might have shared with many- the fear of the dog's behavior given their unknown past. Both of which are viscerally painful reasons that leads to anxiety that many of these dogs unfortunately have to endure.
The immense drive that I have to save as much dogs as possible and make a difference in someone's life lead me to creating this organization. Our mission is to someday be able to open a facility where we can provide all the necessary tools for the dogs and the adopters to successfully thrive together. Paws For Life and their program holds a special place in my heart and that is why I plan to open our doors to those who were released from incarceration, worked as a trainer with Paws For Life and would like to pursue with training dogs. We at The Kona Project, believe in second chances just as much as PFL does.
We hope to be able to find as many dogs their forever, happy homes as possible and to renew a sense of optimism to continue to create a life that is beyond meaningful for everyone. I can only wish to make an impact in people’s lives that are far more valuable than what I could have contributed to create.