Puppy Summer Sundays with Canine Companions for Independence

This past Sunday, I stopped by the Puppy Summer Sunday event held by Canine Companions for Independence, or CCI.  Kimi, The Daily Toki reader that won the paracord leash in our recent giveaway, is a volunteer puppy raiser for CCI and she brought my attention to this fun event.

At Puppy Summer Sundays, visitors have an opportunity to learn about this non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities, meet and greet some adorable puppies that are currently in training, chat with staff and volunteers, and even watch a puppy training session by one of the professional trainers.

So many wiggly lab puppies in one room made it hard to concentrate!  I’m lucky I managed to snap some photos before getting totally distracted by their fuzzy yellow coats and big brown eyes…  You could tell that all of the puppies were trying very hard to concentrate too!

Each puppy spends about 18 months with a volunteer puppy raiser who provides them with basic obedience training and the foundation for the 6 – 9 months of intensive professional training that they need to learn their special assistance dog skills.  Those (approximately 35%) that graduate from this rigorous program are carefully matched with a compatible adult or child with a disability during a two-week on-campus training session at one of the 5 CCI regional training centers located throughout the country.

At the event I met lots of volunteer puppy raisers and their puppies . . .

a few retired assistance dogs (now CCI “ambassadors”) . . .

Becca, one of the professional instructors for the Southwest Region CCI center in Oceanside, CA . . .

and even a dog-handler graduate team.  It was truly an enjoyable event!  If you live near any of the 5 regional CCI training centers, consider going to one of their events — whether it’s a Puppy Summer Sunday, an open house event, or even a graduation ceremony.  It’s a wonderful way to learn about CCI and the important work of raising and training these canine professionals.  Who knows, you might even end up as a volunteer puppy raiser!

Upcoming CCI events in the SoCal area are the Puppy Summer Sundays on June 26, July 24, and August 21 (noon-2 PM) at 2312 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles.  And the Assistance Dog-Handler Graduation Ceremony on August 12 in Oceanside, CA.

. . .

This post is the first in my “Dogs with Jobs” series.  If you know of any working or professional dogs, or would like to tell your own story about a dog with a job, please leave a comment or contact me via email or our Facebook Page.  Thanks for reading!

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12 Responses to Puppy Summer Sundays with Canine Companions for Independence

  1. Benny & Lily says:

    Cool we might have to go check out this event
    Benny & Lily

  2. Melayne Yocum says:

    This was such a fun event! Thank you for posting this information on this blog. Our puppy went home and napped for a couple of hours after all this stimulating fun!

  3. Kimi says:

    This is great! I’ll definitely share it with our CCI group and maybe get the Daily Toki some new readers. Sorry I couldn’t make it, but I’m glad you went. Looks like there were only yellow dogs that day. I’ll have to go next time to put some black dogs in the mix!

  4. What a wonderful and meaningful program. I applaud the volunteer puppy-raisers! Gosh, if it were me, I would have such a hard time letting go after 18 months. I’m sure the reward is in seeing the dog you have raised become an integral support and companion to a physically-disabled person. Just wondering, why do the lab puppies in training have part of their muzzles restrained?

    • furfilled says:

      I’m glad you asked! Actually, the puppy handlers are all using the “gentle leader” or “halti” style head collar. They aren’t muzzles, but rather another type of collar commonly used to reduce pulling and as an alternative to a slip chain or choke collar. The dog can still open its mouth, drink, eat, etc. (It’s a similar concept to a horse’s halter.) It’s a great training tool because it allows you to better control your dog without using a lot of force. And because of that aspect, it’s used by a lot of positive reinforcement-style trainers. As a training tool though, the dogs eventually graduate to just using a flat collar.

      • Ah, I see! I’m glad I asked, too. In fact, I’m soooo glad I asked because the one area of difficulty we still have with Maple is her walking on a lead… she likes to pull ahead of us. We would like to avoid using a slip chain or choke collar, so the “halti” sounds like a much better alternative training collar. Will look into it! Thank you 😀

      • furfilled says:

        There are also some no-pull style harnesses based on similar concepts. “Premier”, the people who make the Gentle Leader, make such a harness. We used it on Toki, but being the husky-mix that she is, she didn’t seem to notice the “no-pull” part of the harness!

      • Kas says:

        I bought a Halti for Diesel, not because of pulling but so that I could have control of his head in high-stress environments since he can be leash reactive at times. I bet it would work great, BUT, no matter how hard I try to desensitize him to it, he acts like he is dying with it on. Sigh …

      • furfilled says:

        It sounds like a post on Halti’s would be interesting . . . I’d love to hear about everyone else’s experiences . . . Toki used to flop around and try and rub hers off her nose with her paw, and on people (kind of embarrassing when her head is crotch height). But she’s gotten a lot better using treats and training with it consistently. Those CCI pups seemed very unconcerned with their Halti’s, perhaps because they were used to them from when they were very young?

  5. Donna S says:

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment on my blog so I see your posting on this CCI event. As a CCI puppy raiser here in landlocked Ohio, I wasn’t able to be there so I really appreciate seeing your photos of Puppy Summer Sundays. Thanks for helping to raise awareness of CCI and the wonderful work this organization does.

    • furfilled says:

      You’re welcome! I was happy to be invited to the Summer Sunday event. And I’m so impressed with the dedication of all of the puppy raisers I met here in Los Angeles! You guys are amazing!

  6. Pingback: Dropping in on CCI Puppy Raiser Kimi | The Daily Toki

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