By: Jenn Schanz
They say a dog is a man's best friend. That's certainly true for Wayne Fast, a retired combat veteran who suffers from PTSD.
But since meeting his dog Rain, he says things are getting better.
"It's just her presence that calms me down. And she realizes when I sort of get tense," he says.
When he has night terrors, Wayne says Rain wakes him up.
"She'll take her nose and push it up against my head and nudge and kiss and nudge and kiss until I wake up and then she, ya know, cuddles with me."
Rain is part of a special program through Second Chance Pups and Patriot Assistance Dogs.
State Pen inmates help train the dogs, and when they're ready, they go to veterans like Wayne for free.
Marsh Erickson got her dog Athena through the program too.
"She has filled in all the holes. I wake up and she licks my face, and I'm thinking ya, this is going to be a good day," says Erickson.
Friday, Marsh and Wayne visited the State Pen to celebrate another group of Second Chance Pups graduating from their first round of training, after 9 weeks at the State Pen.
The dogs are trained for different purposes. Some can sense seizures, others helps vets with physical disabilities or brain injuries.
Second Chance Pups has trained more than 350 dogs over the past decade.
Despite having to say goodbye to their furry friends, the inmates say training dogs does more than pass the time, it's rewarding.
"It gives us something to do, and in the end we know we're going to actually be doing something good because the dog is going to be able to help somebody," says Inmate Kevin Truttmann.
As today's graduates head to round two of training in Minnesota, the inmates have another round of students to look forward to; a new batch of pups comes in a couple weeks.