How old is your puppy? asked the Bob Evans server. She stoops down to look under the table at our pup in training.
Puppy Euka is alert amid the activity of this noisy – and aromatic – environment, but she’s content to hold her Down like the good girl she is. Beauty and brains, this one.
She’s almost seven months, I said.
Wow, you’re lucky, said the server. You got a good one then. My boyfriend’s little brother has a service dog. It’s three years old and can’t stay still. He’d never be able to get it to lie under a restaurant table like that.
Huh, is that so? I say. Where did he get his service dog from?
Oh, well, says our server. And she names a local assistance dog organization that’s not CCI, but another one we know about.
Gotcha, I say. You know, if the dog needs more training, I’m sure the organization will provide it.
I actually don’t know this is true. I hope it is.
My boyfriend’s little brother has autism, so the dog’s for that, she said. They don’t need the dog so much when they go out.
The Husband lowers his menu to catch my eye. I know that look. It says, go easy on the chick. The only thing between me and my lunch right now is your impending lecture.
Fine. I give the poor kid a break. I won’t tell her about the awesomeness of Canine Companions for Independence and their oh-so-careful dog-to-handler matches.
Or how high CCI’s expectations are for their dogs. So much so, that more dogs-in-training are released from Advanced Training than complete the program.
There’s the continuing education thing, too. It’s not here’s your dog, good luck to y’all. CCI continues to evaluate each team to ensure that all is well for both handler and dog. Even after the dog is retired, his or her destiny is safely ensured.
I don’t even mention to our young server that assistance dogs placed by CCI are done so free of charge. The other organization she mentioned requires fundraising of thousands of dollars for each dog.
Don’t get me wrong here. Anyone involved in an assistance dog organization is doing so out of a sense of altruism. Doing God’s work, so to speak. I don’t mean to say that the other organization is not trying to do the right thing, but there’s a reason we chose to volunteer with CCI.
The video above explains it quite well, I think.
On this Friday, November 7, each of the regional centers of Canine Companions for Independence will hold their autumn graduation ceremonies.
After two months with a Breeder Caretaker, eighteen months with a Puppy Raiser, another six months in Advanced Training, each graduating dog was teamed with a handler to bond through two weeks of Team Training.
Are these dogs ready?
You bet they are.
Did you know the graduation ceremonies are open to the public and free of charge? Check out this link to select a regional center to see the event details for your area. Something new this time around is three regional centers will be livestreaming the event for those who are unable to make the drive.
We hope you consider attending. In person, if you can, to get the full experience. Because, you know. Tons of awesome dogs in one room.
If you do attend, though …
A note for fans of the lovely and amazing Miss Euka. She was not matched during this Team Training class, but is still in the Advanced Training program. Watch for more news as we get closer to the next class in February.