From Canine Companions for Independence, for people with disabilities
DELAWARE, OhioJennifer Olson, a resident of Rockford, received an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a nonprofit organization that breeds, trains and places assistance dogs with people with disabilities.
Olson was placed with Larson II, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, who responds to more than 50 commands. The pair graduated after completing Team Training, a rigorous two-week training session at CCIs North Central Regional Center in Delaware, Ohio. Canine Companion recipients meet the dogs after the dogs have been fully trained by professional instructors. Larson assists Jennifer by opening doors, retrieving dropped items, turning on and off light switches, and other tasks that enable the woman to lead a more independent life.
During Team Training, Olson learned all of Larsons commands and how to properly care for him. Team Training is an essential part of CCIs program because it gives the recipient an opportunity to learn how to work with and benefit from a Canine Companion. The Team Training process consists of daily lectures, exams, practice and public outings. Team Training is held at five CCI training centers nationwide, four times per year.
According to Jennifer, Larson, her second CCI dog, will help me open doors to my apartment and refrigerator, and will retrieve items for me from another room.
CCI graduates pay nothing for their dogs, which cost more than $10,000 to breed, raise and train. Since CCI receives no government funding, charitable contributions, grants and corporate support fund the substantial costs involved with this process.
CCI has its own breeding program in Santa Rosa, Calif. CCI puppies are placed with volunteer puppy raisers who will teach them 28 basic commands. When the puppy is 14-16 months old, the puppy raiser returns the dog to one of CCIs regional training centers for six months of advanced training, Team Training and a graduation ceremony.
Canine Companions for Independence is the largest nonprofit organization in the world that provides assistance dogs for people with disabilities other than blindness. For more information about CCI, contact the North Central Regional Center at (740) 548-4447, or visit the CCI Web site at www.cci.org.
From the Feb. 8-14, 2006, issue