International Assistance Dog Week is celebrated Aug. 5-11 to recognize all the dedicated assistance dogs, volunteer puppy raisers and instructors who work to enhance the lives of people who have disabilities. Steve Karmgard, a Genoa, Ill., resident, has reason to celebrate.
Karmgard received an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence in May. He was placed with Service Dog Pluto II, a male black Labrador-golden retriever cross. Pluto II will help Steve retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, and help with daily chores, such as laundry and shopping.
Steve and Pluto II graduated together after completing an intense two-week Team Training course at the North Central Region of Canine Companions in Delaware, Ohio. During Team Training, students are strategically matched with assistance dogs and learn how to work with them effectively. The dogs are trained for two years, learning 40 commands before they are ready to be placed as working dogs. The dogs, their training and ongoing follow-up support, are all provided free of charge.
Karmgard learned about the Canine Companions’ program at a disability exposition. “I was looking for a service dog that would help me be more independent,” he said. “I was impressed with the Canine Companions’ program and the lifelong support they provide to their graduates.” Steve is also looking forward to the companionship Pluto II will provide.
Canine Companions for Independence is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit provider of trained assistance dogs for children, adults and veterans with physical abilities. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.
From the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue