It all starts with a puppy and you

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Someone else’s life is about to get better in ways they don’t even know

By the staff of Canine Companions

Across the country, families are bringing home adorable, eight-week-old Labrador and Golden Retriever puppies with the intention to give them away in 14 to 18 months. “How?” is the first question they often hear. “How can I not?” is how they typically respond.

These puppies are destined to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. They are future assistance dogs, and the families are volunteer puppy raisers for non-profit Canine Companions for Independence. Canine Companions provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children, adults and veterans with disabilities, free of charge.

Volunteer puppy raisers provide socialization, basic training and loving homes for the puppies. Then, the dogs train for an additional six months with professional instructors. By the time they graduate, they’ll be trained in over 40 commands. They will open and close doors, retrieve dropped objects, activate light switches and more. And they’ll provide immeasurable emotional benefits to their partners.

When an assistance dog graduates, the volunteer who raised the dog hands over the leash to the recipient in a special ceremony. Explains one volunteer of the experience, “It was right up there with the day I got married and the days that my children were born. There are so many happy tears, hugs, photos and stories shared. It feels like all is right with the world. Someone else’s life is about to get better in ways they don’t even know yet!”

To learn more visit CCI.org/raise or call (800) 572-BARK.

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