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When I told friends that my girlfriend and I were dropping off our dog at prison for a month, most of them appeared to be waiting for a punch line. After realizing I was serious, most of them crudely offered up their own.

"Maybe he'll emerge all hard, with "love" and "hate" etched across his front paws ..."

"I'll bet he'll play a mean game of dominoes ..."

It was easy for all of us to get a laugh from this side of the bars. But when I stepped to the other side, laughter hardly proved the first impulse.

What I found (cover story) was much more humbling: patient, dedicated individuals who have helped save thousands of dogs' lives since the state's Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program began in 2002.

Nobody providing this kind of productive and beneficial program is excusing the behaviors and actions that landed these men and women into Colorado's prisons. But as time has shown, the positives that come from a little companionship can be immeasurable.

After all, what better addition could you make to a prison cell than unconditional love?

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