On November 22, Sandford Carter finished his supper and returned to his room. "Sandy" a resident of Loch Haven Nursing Home in Macon, can neither hear or speak, so when he fell out of his wheelchair he had no way to call for help.
But never fear, Larry was near. Larry, a Yellow Lab/Shepherd mix is also a resident of Loch Haven.
"I was at the desk working on charts when I heard Larry barking," said West Wing Charge Nurse Crystal Smoot, LPN. "He was standing outside Sandy's room and was looking down the hall at me like he was saying "'come on, you need to come here!"'
Although Larry has been trained not to bark he still sometimes does. But this barking was different.
"This was not his usual bark," said Loch Haven Administrator Byron Freeman. "He was barking frantically."
Crystal responded to Larry's alert and found Sandy lying on the floor.
"I gave Larry the hand signal that I was there to help, that he could stop barking," said Crystal. "We got Sandy back in his chair but Larry stayed right there until he knew he was taken care of."
"He started licking Sandy all over his face," said Loch Haven Marketing Director Mary Beth Truitt. "It was Larry's way of making sure he was ok."
Larry and Johnny, who is a Lab mix, came to live at the nursing home in June of this year as a part of the Puppies for Parole Program.
Puppies for Parole is an endeavor through the Missouri Department of Corrections in partnership with animal shelters and animal advocate groups throughout the state.
Selected prison inmates volunteer as dog trainers to rescue dogs through the program. They teach basic obedience and socialization skills to the canines which makes them more adoptable.
Once the dogs have successfully completed the 8-12 week training program they are placed up for adoption.
Larry and Johnny were trained at Algoa Correctional Facility in Jefferson City.
Larry came from the home of a man who was a hoarder. He lived the first two years of his life in a kennel.
"His son talked him in to letting Larry get in the program by convincing him that he would be helping someone else," said Truitt. "We heard that Johnny was one of three dogs found roaming the streets of Fulton."
Loch Haven personnel made trips to Jefferson City to pick out the dogs they wanted, to receive training and later to attending their graduation from obedience school before bringing them back to Loch Haven.
"We requested that they receive 'Man Down' training," said Freeman. "And Larry responded to that training by alerting us that Sandy needed help."
Page 2 of 2 - "Puppies for Parole is a win/win," said Freeman. "It helps the inmates, the animals they train and those who adopt them."
During the day, Larry may be found wandering the halls of the nursing home while Johnny is in the apartments.
At night Larry goes home with Freeman. Johnny is housed by Wendy Bouman the manager of the Loch Haven Apartments.
"Larry and Johnny have been very good for our residents," said Truitt. "We had one gentleman that hardly ever spoke before the dogs arrived. Since then he has opened up by talking about when he raised coon dogs."
Larry and Johnny roam freely from room to room. They know that they aren't allowed in the dinning area unless they are with someone.
"The residents look forward to the dogs visiting their rooms," said Freeman. "Many have doggie treats or leftovers from their meals for them. I've had residents call me if they haven't shown up in their room wondering where they are."
According to the Department of Corrections website, the program reached the milestone of 2,000 dogs successfully adopted this fall.
Puppies for Parole does not receive any general revenue funding from the state to support its activities. More information may be found on the program online at doc.mo.gov (click on Puppies for Parole tab) or on Facebook at Missouri Puppies for Parole.