Canine Companions for Independence

Who They Are

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence® is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.

The assistance dogs they breed, raise and train aren’t just the ears, hands and legs of their human partners. They’re also goodwill ambassadors and often, their best friends. They open up new opportunities and new possibilities, and spread incredible joy. They unite people with dogs in a powerful program that leads to greater independence and confidence.

They train four types of assistance dogs

Service dogs assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks.
“Mork helps me help myself. He can retrieve my phone and other dropped items, pull my wheelchair and open doors for me.”
—Wallis and Service Dog Mork

Hearing dogs alert their partners, who are deaf and hard of hearing, to important sounds.
“Thanks to Hazel, I don’t have to rely on someone to wake me up. I am less dependent on my family now.”
—Karen and Hearing Dog Hazel

Facility dogs work with clients with special needs in a visitation, education, criminal justice or health care setting.
“Sherlock allows many children to surprise themselves into doing things they might never have had the courage to try!”
—Kristen and Facility Dog Sherlock

Skilled companions enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
“He has really changed my life and I like showing people how he helps me.”
—Carter and Skilled Companion Hollen

From pup to assistance dog

Canine Companions breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and a cross of the two to be assistance dogs. Volunteers care for their breeder dogs and nurture newborn puppies for eight weeks. Canine Companions puppies spend the next 14-18 months with volunteer puppy raisers who provide basic obedience training, socialization and care.

 

Professional Canine Companions instructors teach the dogs to master over 40 commands in six to nine months. After training is successfully completed, the dogs can go through Team Training and be matched with adults, children or veterans with a disabilities, or professionals assisting clients with special needs. Team Training culminates in a joyful graduation ceremony for graduates beginning a new journey and for puppy raisers witnessing their puppies’ achievements.
 Their Dogs
Canine Companions dogs are trained to perform a variety of tasks, and they place their dogs in teams that will utilize their training and celebrate their spirits. Scroll down the page to learn more about the different types of assistance dogs they train.


Service Dogs

Imagine having a dog that could turn on lights, pick up dropped keys and open a door. Canine Companions for Independence service dogs are partnered with adults with physical disabilities to assist with daily tasks and increase independence by reducing reliance on other people. A service dog can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with business transactions by transferring money, receipts, and packages.

A Canine Companions service dog not only assists with physical tasks, but also provides social support. During a two-week training session, participants learn how to effectively handle an assistance dog to maximize use of the 40 commands.

Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, arthritis and cerebral palsy.

In order to be eligible for a service dog, applicants must:

  • Have a physical disability
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be independent in mobility
  • Be able to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively control, manage and care for a dog
  • Have adequate vision to observe, intervene and manage a dog’s behavior (generally equivalent to DMV license requirements)
  • Be willing to attend a two-week Team Training class at a Canine Companions training center
  • Be willing to participate in on-going Canine Companions training and graduate support program

Canine Companions service dogs and follow-up services are free of charge.

 


Hearing Dogs

Canine Companions for Independence hearing dogs are specially bred Labrador and Golden Retrievers who alert partners to key sounds by making physical contact such as nudging the leg or arm. Among the many sounds hearing dogs are trained to recognize and respond to are the sound of a doorbell, alarm clock, someone calling a name or a smoke alarm.

Partnering with a Canine Companions hearing dog can increase feelings of security and self-confidence by heightening awareness of environmental sounds.

After being placed in the home, the graduates “customize” the dog’s alerting pattern to their own particular environment and needs. Examples include: alerting to incoming e-mail messages at work, timers on microwaves, dryers and other appliances, and dropping keys.

In order to be eligible for a hearing dog, applicant must:

  • Be deaf or hard of hearing
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be independent in mobility
  • Be able to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively control, manage and care for a dog
  • Have adequate vision to observe, intervene and manage a dog’s behavior (generally equivalent to DMV license requirements)
  • Be willing to attend a two-week Team Training class only in Santa Rosa, CA or Orlando, FL
  • Be willing to participate in on-going Canine Companions training and graduate support program

Canine Companions hearing dogs and follow-up services are free of charge.


Facility Dogs

Facility dogs are expertly trained dogs who partner with a facilitator working in a health care, visitation or education setting.

Canine Companions facility dogs are trustworthy in professional environments and can perform over 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire clients with special needs.

Facilitators are working professionals responsible for handling and caring for the facility dog. Additionally, facilitators are committed to long-term employment where they directly serve clients with special needs a minimum of twenty hours per week.

One of the most valued qualities of the facility dog is the unconditional love and attention it gives to the clients and patients with whom it interacts.

In an educational setting, a facility dog helps engage students in schools and special education classes.

In a health care environment, activities such as grooming, feeding and playing fetch with a facility dog can aid patients in medical rehabilitation and psychiatric programs.

A well-mannered and highly trained facility dog encourages feelings of calm and security for clients in a visitation setting such as a courtroom.

In order to be eligible for a facility dog, applicants must:

  • Be employed working a minimum of 20 hours a week with a marginalized population
  • Have approval from their employer for the use of a facility dog
  • Be able to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively control, manage and care for a dog
  • Have adequate vision to observe, intervene, and manage a dog’s behavior (generally equivalent to DMV license requirements)
  • Be willing to attend a two-week Team Training class at a Canine Companions training center
  • Be willing to participate in on-going Canine Companions training and graduate support program

Canine Companions facility dogs and follow-up services are free of charge.

Skilled Companions

People with disabilities might have trouble reaching a light switch, picking up a dropped pencil or opening a door. Imagine having a dog that could do all of that and more.

Their skilled companions are dogs trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator. A facilitator is typically a parent, spouse or caregiver who handles and cares for the assistance dog, encourages a strong bond between the recipient and the skilled companion dog, and is responsible for the customized training needs of the dog.

Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Spina Bifida and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

A Canine Companions skilled companion is bred to be calm, reliable, affectionate and utilizes its trained skills and tasks to help mitigate the recipient’s disability.

A Canine Companions skilled companion can also serve as a tool to assist in developing independent living skills as well as integrated into structured therapies and utilized to facilitate social interactions. Not only can a skilled companion placement make their physical lives easier, it can boost confidence, feelings of self-sufficiency and responsibility. Canine Companions dogs are responsive, but NOT responsible. A Canine Companions dog cannot take responsibility for the safety of the recipient. A Canine Companions dog does not have the ability to identify a situation that is safe versus a situation that is dangerous. Canine Companions dogs are only able to perform under the direct supervision of an adult, and cannot go to school alone with a child.

In order to be eligible for a skilled companion, applicants must:

Recipient must:

  • Be at least 5 years of age
  • Have a physical or developmental disability
  • Live with facilitator

Facilitator must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be able to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively control, manage and care for a dog
  • Have adequate vision to observe, intervene, and manage a dog’s behavior (generally equivalent to DMV license requirements)
  • Be willing to attend a two-week Team Training class at a Canine Companions training center
  • Be willing to participate in on-going Canine Companions training and graduate support program

Canine Companions skilled companions and follow-up services are free of charge.

 


Assistance Dogs for Veterans

Canine Companions for Independence has provided many assistance dogs to US war veterans across the country.

With the increase in wounded veterans who could benefit from an assistance dog, we want to do more. For a veteran making a new start putting their life back together from an injury, an assistance dog can provide the help they need to regain independence.

Canine Companions recognizes the urgent and growing need for programs that provide support to veterans with disabilities. Many of the brave men and women returning home from combat with disabling injuries experience a litany of new challenges.

Often, they face difficult transitions back to civilian life as well as uncertain futures with new disabilities. Canine Companions assistance dogs can help veterans regain independence, pride and hope. Beyond much-needed physical assistance, the love, loyalty and positivity of a canine partner can make a profound, lasting impact on someone dealing with difficult emotions that are hard to communicate.

“Just having someone with me to help do things that are difficult for me really affects my life positively.” – Charlie with his service dog Devon

Canine Companions was the first assistance dog organization to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International, and has provided assistance dogs to over 5000 people with disabilities.

 

 

2017-07-13T18:46:47-05:00