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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Super People and Extraordinary Dogs-CCI puppy raisers

I am awe inspired every day I go to work. Not because I have the pleasure to work with pet passionate people every day, but because I work with several people that take pet passion to the next level. These individuals not only have pet passion but also people passion. They are special individuals who take time in their busy lives to be puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Individuals who have selflessly brought a rotten, untrained, peeing and pooping machine into their homes for 14-18 months who later return to CCI as a well mannered super dog to fulfill its mission in life- "transform the life of a disabled individual." It is not a job for the faint of heart. It would be an impossible task for most. After months of caring for the well being of this living creature and with whom they have developed a deep bond, the dog must be returned to fulfill its purpose in life.

Employees at my workplace have the privilege to bring personal pets to work with them, therefore I have had the opportunity to meet several of these puppies and follow their journey along with their puppy raisers. A journey that is hardly a cake walk. Anyone who has raised a puppy knows it is challenging to say the least. Aside from the obvious basics of housetraining and "sit", the CCI dog must learn many commands (up to 40) beyond what the average dog would learn. They must be focused and resistant to distractions. After all, one day they may be pulling a wheelchair bound person across a busy intersection or alerting a hearing impaired person of a fire alarm. The puppy is returned to CCI at 14-18 months of age and then undergoes further training. This training weeds out those who aren't cut out for the job. These dogs must be strong and be able to perform flawlessly to move into the program and ultimately be partenered with a disabled individual. If a dog is removed from the program, the puppy raiser has first dibs to adopt. I imagine for the puppy raisers it is a bittersweet moment when those dogs don't graduate the program. Who wouldn't want to see a disabled individivual become independent with a dog you raised? Yet, who wouldn't want the dog back to be your own pet? But what a feeling of pride that must be to see your puppy graduate.....

I truly admire those that volunteer their hearts to raise these dogs. Despite the relationships the rest of us develop with the dogs, we all are pulling for them and want to see them succeed and graduate. It is truly an amazing opportunity to see how animals can improve the lives of people not only with their companionship but also giving disabled individuals the independence that most of us take for granted.

To read learn more about CCI:

To read about the puppy raising experience:
Photo: borrowed from puppy raiser's blog-Super Dog Inga

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baking Beagles

Having been in the animal care business for over 20 years, I have seen many situations that one would consider animal neglect as the root cause of a sick or injured animal. Many times these situations are not intentional but still the animal's welfare and life may be at risk. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get justice for an animal in a neglect/cruelty case as the laws are not very strong in many states. Often times if there is an animal being treated cruelly in a home, child abuse and domestic violence are present too.

Last weekend it was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon and the temperature was about 85 degrees. While returning to my car after making a stop, I heard a dog bark. I looked around and saw dogs in a pickup truck with the windows rolled down about 2 inches. Immediately my hackles go up as this is a situation that makes my blood boil instantly. I still find it unbelievable that people believe this is not a danger to the animal. Temperatures inside a car climb very quickly and are easily over 100 degrees within a few minutes on an 85 degree day. Every summer the media covers this story either as a public service announcement or because some poor animal died due to a neglectful owner. The analogy that keeps going through my head: Would you leave your baby or child in the car under the same situation and think it was ok?

I walked over to the vehicle to check the dogs. They were panting very hard and were a bit upset but did not appear to be in distress, yet. With the help of a couple of other people, we tried to locate the owner without success. I called the police and requested an officer to the location. As soon as the police arrived, so did the owner of the truck. The owner, of course, had many excuses such as " I was only gone a few minutes" to " They are my boys and they go with me everyday." The owner obviously had trouble telling time as I had been there at least 20 minutes. I was very pleased as the officer took the situation seriously and told the guy this borders on animal cruelty. I don't know how it ended as the officer wanted to speak with the guy privately so I dismissed myself. Fortunately, the dogs were not harmed despite the guys stupidity.

If you ever see this situation, be vigilant and call the authorities as this is animal cruelty. Be an advocate for the neglected animal and help save his life.

For more information: