LINCOLN, Ill. (WAND) - A 101st Airborne Solider was saved by his service dog, which was trained by a Logan Correctional Center inmate.
Jim Champion said he always dreamed of becoming a solider, but his dreams of going to war changed after he got a startling diagnosis.
"I joined the service in 1985. I wanted to be like the little green army soldiers I grew up with," Champion said. "But I started noticing symptoms, like my foot was dragging. They finally diagnosed me with MS."
Bowie, Champion's dog, saved him and his family when the fish tank in their home caught fire.
"I told [Bowie] quiet, and he started barking. I heard a pop and thought nothing of it," Champion said. "I opened my eyes for a second, and I didn't see anything. Bowie started growling, and I yelled fire."
Before Bowie was placed with his new family, he was in the Helping Paws Program at Logan Correctional Center.
The Helping Paws Program gives incarcerated women the chance to train service dogs for people with disabilities.
Inmate Dakota Wall has trained three service dogs, including Bowie.
"He was probably the hardest to give up, because of the bond we had," Wall said.
Champion wanted to visit the prison to meet Bowie's trainer, and when he did, all of the women and dogs in the program thanked him for his service.
"They thanked me, but they have done so much," Champion said. "I'm on cloud nine."