Prison Officer To Pooper Scooper - My Great Escape
People always ask me “how did you get into dog walking?” and when I answer the question with “I was working as a prison officer for 9 years and my dad offered me a job so I jumped at the chance” I get one of two reactions;
1st. A complete look of disbelief that I would actually leave a job that was ‘stable, secure and respected (to an extent)’ for one of picking up other people’s dog mess.
2nd “I bet they couldn’t be any more different” followed by a genuine intrigue as to why.
Now, every prison officer knows how many questions get fired at them by someone who has never worked in a prison. Honestly it can go on for hours and to be fair……….we ABSOLUTELY love the attention and for good reason. Simply, it’s the forgotten service. The things a Prison officer has to go through on a daily basis is far beyond what any person can make up (well any sane person anyway) So when we get a chance to tell someone who doesn’t know what it’s like, we revel in it. We all have stories that could make you wince, laugh, cry, shudder and appreciate what we do, I can guarantee that, especially once we have put the good old prison officer exaggeration on it. In fact, it was whilst doing exactly that that I came up with the idea for this Blog.
I had just met up with a potential customer and their dog (a gorgeous old English sheep dog) to go for a little stroll around Hampstead Heath. This is a short walk for the owners to ask us questions regarding our day care centre, our walking/grooming services or about a typical day etc. but 5 minutes in, after brief introductions I get asked the question “so what did you do before?”…………….45 minutes later and after silencing 10 of my dad’s calls to see where I was, we arrived back at our cars having discussed dog walking for about 3 minutes. After the meet and talking about just some of my past experiences I began to think just how much my life had changed and what a great story I could tell.
With every blog I plan to tell real stories of my life before pooper scooping and how walking dogs has actually been the best therapy I could have asked for. So, Sit back and I hope you enjoy………
It all starts a little heavy but this is the real world of a prison officer. Around May 2018, I had just got back to work from an ankle injury I received whilst on duty 3 weeks prior……now, I could go into a story about me suffering this injury whilst trying to restrain a prisoner who was charging at me with a shank (homemade knife) however…………I want to be as straight and as honest as possible throughout my blogs, so I actually received this unfortunate injury whilst running a Badminton session with the prisoners and tripping up over my own foot, much to their amusement. Oh I forgot to mention, after spending my first 6 years as a landing officer, I received a promotion and became a Physical Education Instructor. Basically I was still an officer, just in a tracksuit and with a PT qualification.
So, I was enjoying my first day back in the gym. The prisoners couldn’t wait to see me and remind me how funny it was when I went over and how I screamed like a baby, all was good. But like all good things, especially in the prison service, that was about to come to an abrupt end. I had just released the prisoners back to the wings (their housing units) on main movement and like any good PEI, flicked the kettle straight on in my office to make a brew when an alarm came over the radio. It was a code blue which could mean anything from a prisoner having a fit all the way to not breathing. Code blues are common in prisons but as a prison officer you get a 6th sense. A sense for when something isn’t of the norm or for the way an alarm is called out. Being that I was one of the first aid instructors for the prison I responded to where the alarm was raised and when I got there, saw a prisoner unconscious on the floor of the cell. It quickly became apparent that the prisoner wasn’t breathing so I started CPR. Now this is where the true determination and comradery of prison officers come into play. When situations like this arise everyone pulls together, 10 people running in different directions at the same time with different tasks, one collecting the de-fib, one starting an incident log, 2 alternating CPR, one on the phone to the ambulance………Everyone sticks together and gives everything.
I ended up doing CPR on the prisoner for over an hour, yes the ambulance got there within 10 minutes but as me and another officer was in a routine and doing the job right, they left us to carry on whilst they started more complicated procedures.
Unfortunately despite all of our best efforts the prisoner didn’t make it. The next couple of days that follow an incident like this can be quite hard. However, all the officers involved where on shift the next day putting a brave face on. There seems to be a bravado in the service that you can’t show emotion or that a certain situation has affected you as it could be seen as a weakness. So what tends to happen is that you say your fine to management and then bottle up all the emotions and move on. The trouble is, horrible incidents happen thick and fast in the prison service, so fast in fact that you literally don’t have time to dwell on the last. This results in you bottling up more and more without even realising it.
Around 2 weeks after this incident I received an appointment back from the hospital about finally having my Hernia operation (I can hear all the prison service staff reading this saying “typical PEI’s” ha-ha) and it was whilst off sick recovering from this I had my epiphany. My Girlfriend was travelling the day after my operation due to work and not being able to pull my own trousers up on my own was going to prove difficult. Luckily for me, my dad and step mum volunteered to be my carer whilst my girlfriend was away.
Spending time with the parents was an eye opener, seeing them come home with smiles on their faces and telling me funny stories of the day was great but inside I thought, they must be mad! I mean, I know the absolute joy a dog brings to its family but can working with dogs really be that rewarding?
Another week past and I was more mobile so I started joining my dad on some of his walks. I can still remember when it hit me. I was walking through Hampstead Heath early one morning, Dad, Me and around six dogs. The sun was already up and shining, the dogs were running around sniffing, I could hear the sounds of the birds in the trees and NOTHING else. It was strange to me, where was the sound of prisoners arguing, fighting for your attention, the sound of keys jangling, gates slamming, alarms ringing. It was honestly like my eyes opened up, I actually had time to think, time to process and take in my surroundings without suspense or fear. It was peaceful and calming and the only danger I had to worry about was missing one of the dogs shitting or mistaking me for a tree.
I decided there and then that I would leave and join my dad.
It’s a year on now and the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner. My Life has changed for the better and I feel like a new man (even if working for your parents is testing at times)
I have yet to wake up and think errrgghh I have work today. In fact its the opposite.
Thank you and I hope you have enjoyed reading this quick introduction. I look forward to bringing you many funny stories about the past and present. PLEASE subscribe to receive alerts for my next post and please leave a comment letting me know what you thought.
Kane ‘The Pooper Scooper’ Doran