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March 7, 2014

Sister supports Friends for Folks prison dog training program

NORMAN — The scars on her hands and wrists might be unsettling to some, but Sister Pauline Quinn’s face was warm and her eyes understanding.

Quinn, whose scars come from suffering as a youth tied up in mental institutions after running away from home, stood next to her service dog, Pax, a golden retriever whose name means peace in Latin.

She shared information Thursday night at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History about prison dog training programs.

Quinn spoke with community members and students before the showing of “The Dogs of Lexington,” a documentary about the dog training program at Lexington Correctional Facility.

Quinn is a Dominican Sister who started the nonprofit “Pathways To Hope” and now works for her new nonprofit “Bridges and Pathways of Courage.” Quinn said she lives by looking at life as if through a camera lens, focusing on the good and blurring the bad.

“Broken people don’t remember the good. If you take a photo and capture the good, that can help,” Quinn said. “All of us can get down on ourselves. We should see the world by looking for good, even in the bad, and nourish that good.”

Quinn’s road to the church was a long, difficult one involving troubled family life and many years of homelessness, during which Quinn felt she was worthless.

Joni the German Shepherd changed how Quinn saw herself and interacted with others. Joni was Quinn’s first dog, and when she walked down the street, people would treat Quinn differently; they would step back, acknowledge her or ask her about Joni.

“I had no home. It was hard to keep my head up, and Joni gave me a sense of power,” she said. “When I finally healed from my past, I had enough power that I didn’t need a dog to hold my head up.”

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