With the exception of cat people who believe their kitties are the most sublime creatures on Earth, I think the rest of us can agree that dogs are man’s, and more than a few women’s, best friends.

The question is whether that friendship and loyalty are easily transferable?

The answer appears to be “yes” based on the experience of Puppies Behind Bars, a program that pairs service dogs, trained by prison inmates, with military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The transfer of allegiance to the veterans from the inmates, who have typically spent at least two years with the dogs, occurs over a 16-day period when the groups work together.

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“It is instantaneous,” said Gloria Gilbert Stoga, the founder and president of Puppies Behind Bars. “The dogs know who they are supposed to attach themselves to.”

It may have something to do with the breed—all are Labrador retrievers—and the fact the dogs know that every executed command comes with a treat. “Ronald, you have to kibble her every time,” Ms. Stoga chided a participant who forgot to reward his dog when it used a cord to open a door.

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