Recently, our friend and Party with a Heart Board of Directors member, Eileen Devereux, lost her beloved Napoleon – a Great Pyrenees who came into her family from Paws in Prison. We loved him, too, and want to honor his memory with this special fundraising campaign for Party with a Heart + Paws in Prison. Napoleon’s story follows. Please consider a donation in his honor to support the important mission fulfillment work of the Paws in Prison program.
The streets of Benton were Napoleon’s early home, where he was found with a spark in his eyes, as an under-nourished stray. Dogs like Napoleon become strays for a variety of reasons: they’re lost, abandoned, or born on the streets.
While we never knew Napoleon’s full story, we did know this: the Paws in Prison program in Little Rock took him in and gave him a second chance. Through months of obedience training, care and love provided by two inmates at the prison in Malvern, Napoleon graduated from the program and was ready for his new forever home.
Newly married and seeking a new pup to round out the family, Eileen Devereux, of Mexico City, and Jeff Dailey, of Little Rock, had the fortune of learning about Napoleon through a walk-in visit to Care for Animals in Little Rock. They heard about Napoleon, a full-bred Great Pyrenees who was a friendly and determined ball of love. H also had earned the reputation of an escape artist. Jeff and Eileen immediately wanted to meet him.
They met Napoleon at the prison in late summer of 2013 during his Paws in Prison training. After a series of buzzing gates, a volunteer escorted them to a large, open room. Among twenty inmates were as many dogs, including the great, white, fluffball named Napoleon.
This was an important visit for them. Neither Eileen nor Jeff had experience caring for such a large dog. They needed to meet the big guy in person and size up the possibility of taking him home.
While at the unit they were able to see a professional dog trainer teach a room full of inmates how to train and care for their assigned dogs and to get a small peek at how Paws in Prison plays such an important role in saving dogs that might otherwise die — or be killed — in a shelter.
Homeless dogs in central Arkansas are rescued by a variety of organizations. Thanks to the rescue groups working with Paws in Prison, Eileen and Jeff began the application process, and after their approval and the purchase of a new fence for their backyard, they were selected to give this 3-year-old pup his forever home.
When Napoleon moved in, Paws in Prison gave Eileen and Jeff a diary in which the inmates that trained him wrote down everything about their experience with the dog –– his progress in learning new skills, like sitting and shaking hands, notes about his fear of storms and how to ease his anxiety, and a day-to-day diary of his demeanor, special traits and new tricks taught during his time behind bars. But one of the most special things they read from that diary was a statement from one of his trainers at the prison: “having the opportunity to be part of the Paws in Prison has made me feel human again, as I had the chance to do something to give back to society from prison.”
During the next 6 years Jeff, Eileen and Napoleon went out on daily walks throughout the neighborhood, walking about 3 miles a day. Napoleon loved people, and even more, loved it when neighbors stopped him in the street to give him treats, pet his head, or give astonished looks at the sight of an 80-pound dog whose fluffy white hair made him seem twice the size. It seemed like everyone in the streets wanted to hug, make friends with, and love Napoleon.
Eileen and Jeff took him on hikes, road trips (his favorite), and dog-friendly restaurants. He saw Chicago in the winter, the Buffalo River in spring, and Dallas in the summer.
Napoleon did not play with any toys but enjoyed chasing other dogs pretending to herd them at the dog park. He would be so gentle with everyone, that even the smallest, feistiest, or most threatening looking pups could bark at him for hours without the slightest reaction. He loved children letting them pull on his ears and play while sitting patiently and lovingly. Napoleon was a loyal companion that helped Jeff and Eileen feel safe, loved and at home, wherever they were with him by their side.
What started as a small limp in May of this year, turned out to be a serious illness that would turn out the light that shined so bright in their lives for six years. After treating Napoleon in a palliative manner for four months, Napoleon, in great health throughout his life, let them know it was time for him to go. The cyst on his spine was too much for him to bear.
With the help of a dear veterinarian friend, Dr. Marlow Ball, from SOMA Animal Clinic, Napoleon’s suffering ended peacefully and surrounded by love in his home.
Napoleon was a beautiful, shining star in Jeff and Eileen’s lives for six years. But his legacy reached far beyond their lives. He was an important part of a program that saves dogs and educates our community about the thousands of dogs each year in central Arkansas that need a loving, safe home. Paws in Prison gave them the perfect gift in Napoleon, a dog that would have been killed in a shelter alone without the good work of volunteers, Paws in Prison staff, and the people who are incarcerated in our Arkansas prisons who rehabilitate hundreds of dogs per year.