Helping Hodge

For such a young dog, Hodge has had an eventful life. He was rescued as an adolescent from a rural shelter that was being closed down, and all the dogs were at risk of being euthanized. Because Worthy Dog Rescue had previously rescued many dogs in this community, the shelter contacted us for help, and we were able to save Hodge and 17 other dogs from the shelter. Since then, each of those dogs has found an adoptive home in the DC area, except for Hodge, who needed a little more training and support than the rest.

Hodge is a very social and loving dog by nature, but he was also higher energy and excitable when he first came into rescue. He was a “mouthy” adolescent pup that would jump on people, and needed to learn better manners. Hodge’s case required more personal attention than our typical foster home could give, and thankfully we were able to enter him into the Happy Hounds Prison Dog Program (HHPDP), a special inmate training program at the Roxbury Correctional Institute in Hagerstown, MD.

The HHPDP identifies dogs who have a good nature and will benefit from specialized and intensive training that they wouldn’t receive in a shelter or foster home, and are otherwise at risk of being given up or euthanized. The program provides positive reinforcement training and behavior modification for the dogs, and offers the inmate handlers transferable experience in dog training that they can apply towards successful employment after leaving prison. This program is a win for the dogs and the inmate handlers, and allows the inmate population the opportunity to be productive and provide a beneficial service to the community.

Every dog entering the program must past a temperament test to be considered, and any dog displaying aggression towards humans will not be allowed to participate. The inmate handlers are selected from the minimum security population, and must have demonstrated an aptitude for the program and earned privileges for good behavior. Each dog lives with the handler in their cell, but also is allowed to interact with rest of the housing unit, which provides great socialization for the dogs and brings a positive energy and calming influence to the unit.

The HHPDP training program has a dedicated certified dog trainer who meets with the handlers every week, evaluates the dogs, and develops a detailed training program for them to follow. Dogs are typically in the program for 12 to 18 weeks, and Worthy Dog receives a weekly report from the Program’s Director, with updates on Hodge to track his progress. Hodge has done exceptionally well in the program, and the inmates in the housing unit and the Correctional Officers all adore him. We received the following note about Hodge from his handler:

Hodge is by far the most fun-loving dog I have ever been around.


He loves people, and when he meets someone he will always rub up against them so they can pet him. He will then lie down on his back so he can receive a belly rub.


Hodge really loves to play with a ball, and sometimes when I don’t have time to play ball he will throw and catch the ball himself. He loves to play so much that he will sometimes play with a dog biscuit before he eats it.


Hodge loves to lie on his bed as if to just chill, and when he sleeps he snores like a grown man.

Now that he’s completed his training, Hodge is ready to go home. He’s learned how to be calm when asked, and has learned to correct himself at the slightest urge to revisit his old mouthing habits. He’s mastered his commands, completed his Good Manners training, has excellent recall, and walks well on leash too. He’s also done really well interacting with the other dogs in the program, and would benefit from having another active dog and playmate in his new home.

At only 2 – 2.5 years old and 55 pounds, Hodge is a young, active, fun-loving dog who needs an equally active owner who will exercise and play with him. He will make an excellent running or hiking companion, and loves to meet new people. He’s a confident pup who wants to share affection and give lots of kisses, and needs an attentive owner who can lead him and continue his training. Hodge will make a great family dog, but because of his size, a home with kids 10 years or older would best suit him

Hodge is one awesome dog. He has a warm, loving nature, and deserves the great life that the people in the Happy Hounds program have worked so hard to give him. If you want to make Hodge a part of your life – apply today!

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