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Keri Blakinger @keribla
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Over the weekend, I visited upstate NY, where I got arrested & later did time. And it kind of holds a special place in my heart bc it’s where I got my life back together. But someoneasked me where my dog was & it got me thinking. Here is a thread abt dogs, addiction, and reentry.
People don’t usually think about what happens to animals when someone gets arrested, but at the time of my arrest, I had a dog. Her name was Charlotte. Here is Charlotte:
I’d gotten her in 2007, just a few days after I'd jumped off a bridge in a very earnest suicide attempt. Afterward, the person I was dating made probably the only good suggestion they ever made the entire time we knew each other and pushed me to get a dog.
She was in rough shape - just like me. Her ribs stuck out and she jumped at everything. As soon as I brought her in the house she saw my housemate's cat and immediately peed all over the floor in abject terror.
She got healthier, but it took me a while to follow suit. In the meantime she spent a lot of time trying to steal people’s weed and walking to crackhouses with me. She’d been through some stuff w/me – she was there was raids, robberies, drunken fights, arrests. She'd seen it all.
I think my dog actually liked it when I was getting high, because I walked her A LOT, visiting drug spots all over town. And she was always around super-high people who just wanted to pet her all the time. She was probably the only "person" disappointed when I got sober.
I knew she depended on me and had no one else. And I think more than once it was knowing that that kept me from making even worse decisions than I already did on a regular basis – both before and after prison.
But then I got arrested, picked up while walking down the street. In a rare occurrence, Charlotte wasn’t with me; she was in my apartment. And I had no idea what would happen to her. Eventually someone checked for me and I got word that she’d disappeared, just vanished.
The apartment was ransacked, most of my stuff stolen – and my dog was missing. She’d been a huge support for me through some rough times, and I had no idea what happened to her. And whatever it was I knew it was my fault.
A wk or two after my arrest, I found out where she was. The property manager had given her to a family. They were complete strangers, and a little apprehensive abt taking a drug dealer’s dog.
But they had a dog of their own – Bailey. Bailey and Charlotte looked like they could be twins. Here they are:
Bailey & Charlotte became besties, and she started a happy dog life without me.

The family said they loved Charlotte and would keep her – just until I got out. At that point, we didn’t know how much time that would or wouldn’t be. (It ended up being ~2 years.)
In the meantime, I missed having a life filled with fur. I felt like I’d abandoned her, and it seemed like one of the most tangible immediate harms I’d done in my addiction – tho ofc it was really only one of many.
The day I got out – 6 yrs ago last month - the first place I went was to see Charlotte.

She had no idea who I was.
And amazingly, this family kept their word. After two years of giving my dog a great dog home, they gave her back. And over time – through letters and then later visits – they became like amazing second parents to me. Complete strangers. Who’d just by chance taken my dog.
They came to my graduation, showed up with groceries at random, dropped off homemade meals. They introduced me to people, invited me to movie nights, helped me plan community dinners.
So this weekend when I went to visit Ithaca, I stayed with them. I walked in, and their dog Bailey greeted me – then waited at the door for the dog she thought would be coming in behind me.
Charlotte died ~2 years ago.
But I say all this to say that the things that help w/successful reentry can be so random. There’s privilege & opportunity & also dumb luck. That family has been a huge, amazing support for me like some magical reentry fairies that helped me get my shit together.
And, yeah, my dog helped me get my life together. Miss her every day. Heckin’ good dog. 13/10 would hire as reentry counselor.
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